[whatwg] Textarea Wishlist

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Mon Aug 9 04:48:53 PDT 2004

On 9 Aug 2004, at 12:29, Matthew Thomas wrote:

> On 9 Aug, 2004, at 9:09 PM, Kai Hendry wrote:
>> ...
>> I might not be the typical use case, however I think it is appropriate
>> for editors to embed themselves in web forms to give the user their
>> editing environment, be it emacs or notepad.
>> Downside is that people would have to choose their editor. And the
>> default for some might suck.
> Worse, some keyboard equivalents would do wildly different things 
> depending whether focus was in a text field or not. Especially since 
> some pages auto-focus a text field and some do not.

That could be solved at the UA level by providing a default editor with 
the same key combinations as the browser. Users who could change the 
editor could also deal with the switch in input behavior from the 
browser to the editor (no, that's not an ideal situation, but it's 
probably better than forcing users to copy and paste between their 
preferred editor and their browser because textarea implementations 
tend to be somewhat simplistic.)

The alternative approach to providing access to external editing 
functionality is to allow the user launch an external editor instead of 
typing into the textarea directly and have it sync its contents 
somehow. However I can't think of a way to make the interface for 
syncing the contents of the textarea and the external editor very 
clear. Presumably, one would write to a temporary file, save the file 
in the text editor, and then instruct the browser to update the file 
when it regained focus. However it wouldn't be obvious that the user 
should save the document in the text editor, nor what would happen if 
the user focussed the browser, made some changes in the textarea and 
refocussed the editor.

Despite the UI problems here, I still believe it would be beneficial if 
there was a way to specify the MIME type of the data expected in a 
textarea so that browsers could provide interface enhancements specific 
to the data format expected. 

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