[whatwg] [WF2] <select required>

Andy Lyttle whatwg at phroggy.com
Thu Oct 23 22:37:58 PDT 2008

On Oct 23, 2008, at 12:19 PM, Tab Atkins Jr. wrote:
> Ultimately the display of the hint is, and should be, up to the UA,  
> so that non-full-featured devices can display things in a maximally  
> helpful way to the user.  Within the context of a standard browser  
> on an ordinary computer, though, the correct display seems  
> relatively clear.  When the select is collapsed, the hint should  
> show until the user selects something.  After the user selects  
> something, the hint will never again display in the collapsed  
> state.  I'm not sure if it's necessary for the hint to display in  
> the expanded state.  If it is, though, then it should always be the  
> first item in the list, and it should be nonselectable, similar to  
> how column groups display currently.

1) If the user clicks to open the menu, then clicks away or presses  
Esc without making a selection, does that count as a selection for  
purposes of making the placeholder not appear again?

2) If the user never selects something, they'll never see anything  
but the placeholder.  That means they won't see the text associated  
with whatever option is selected by default.  In many cases, the  
default option will be some sort of blank* value to indicate that the  
user has not made a selection; the current practice serves both  
purposes at the same time (having a blank value to indicate no  
selection, and setting the text of that option to a placeholder/ 
hint).  A placeholder option would replace one of these purposes, but  
not both; authors would still need to have a default option that  
indicates non-selection.

* By blank, I mean something unique that the script that will process  
the form knows means a non-selection.  I normally use <option  
value=""> for this purpose, but it could be any value the author  

In other cases, there must always be something selected; a non- 
selection shouldn't be possible.  An example might be the "country"  
field on an address form, which defaults to the most likely choice  
(e.g. United States for sites that expect most of their audience to  
be American).  The user shouldn't be permitted to select a non- 
value.  How should the placeholder text be displayed?  It seems clear  
to me that it should NOT appear on the collapsed menu at all, but  
should appear at the top of the expanded menu.

There are other cases where having a blank option is appropriate, but  
the default may be something else.  The user can explicitly change  
the selection to a blank option.

How should the placeholder behave in each of these cases?

I realize these are display issues rather than semantic issues, but I  
think it's appropriate to discuss them.

Andy Lyttle
whatwg at phroggy.com

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