Sample of a styleguide

How do we get the industry to embrace native HTML form elements?

Bushwazi
Feb 5, 2016 · 3 min read

Which industry?

Website builders, specifically creatives.

What are native HTML form elements?

After links, one of the most important parts of the internet are HTML forms. It’s how communication gets done. Native elements are part of Hypertext Markup Language. Out of the box, the browsers support them (for the most part). Learn more about HTML forms.

What is being embraced if not native HTML form elements?

There are a set of widely accepted javascript hacks or plugins that commonly include select list, checkboxes and date selectors. They all date back to when desktop browsers were the only browsers and mobile devices were just snippets from Stanley Kubrik movies.

What’s the big effing deal?

Now, I know I’m not the first, or last person to have this opinion, but I’m currently dealing with the resistance at work, so I’m writing this so I can have a solid, civil argument. This isn’t about styling the elements, I’m all for beautiful design, but I’m also all for functionality. If we all agree to live within the constraints of CSS styles of form elements, the experience for our users can still be top notch.

Points against hacking form elements

  1. Bloat: plugins and libraries add more weight and connections, slowing the internet down. It’s 2016, like most developers, I no longer include jQuery in my sites, not only because I’ve become more comfortable with javascript, but also because browsers are far superior than in just a short time ago
  2. Complexity: these javascript hacks add complexity to a project, but they require the developers to maintain them and watch for changes
  3. Evolution: the users, devices, browsers and languages that are the internet have all evolved. Even Microsoft doesn’t support IE less than 10 anymore. And we thank you Microsoft.

Points for hacking form elements

  1. Beauty: They are pretty and perfectly match someone’s vision of the website theme
  2. Nothing: honestly, this is the least snarky thing that I could up with…

Points for native form elements

  1. No bloat: other than their attributes and the CSS, you won’t be adding much to bandwidth
  2. Beauty: for most elements, you can still pretty them up enough to feel like they are part of a website’s theme
  3. Simplicity: it is on the browsers to support the elements, not the developer to keep up.

Points against native form elements

  1. Beauty: Not as pretty as the hacks

This currently stems from a creative design that uses a full calendar, similar to jQuery’s plugin instead of the date input. It elevated for me with yet another custom select menu within the same project. I no longer want to enable the people I see as the abusers, but they have the inertia, not me.

Thanks for reading my amateur pitch for using native form elements and against hacking form elements. I hope this helps someone else win this battle in their own little world. I look forward to using native elements for date selection, select lists, radio buttons, checklists, and all the fun stuff folks are thinking of before I even get chance.

Please please please, if you have anything constructive, please share. I need the strongest argument possible.

Similar articles I found while researching:

http://aaronmbushnell.com/lets-stop-customizing-form-fields/

https://github.com/h5bp/lazyweb-requests/issues/92

Bushwazi

Written by

Bushwazi

Web developer Daddy who is jealous of all ski bums.

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