[whatwg] Form-associated elements and the parser

Adam Klein adamk at chromium.org
Tue Aug 6 16:47:35 PDT 2013

On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 4:38 PM, Jonas Sicking <jonas at sicking.cc> wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 4:27 PM, Adam Klein <adamk at chromium.org> wrote:
>> On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 4:21 PM, Jonas Sicking <jonas at sicking.cc> wrote:
>>> As I recall it (it was ages since I dealt with this), the tricky case
>>> that you need to handle is this one:
>>> http://software.hixie.ch/utilities/js/live-dom-viewer/?saved=2432
>>> In this case, web compatibility requires that the <input> is
>>> associated with the form. Specifically hidden <input> elements would
>>> often end up moved, but still had to show up in form.elements as well
>>> as get submitted along with the form.
>> That case definitely makes sense to me, and I think it's fine to keep
>> that behavior for compat. The only one I'm asking to change is the
>> case when the <input> and <form> end up in different trees.
> Sure, as long as you come up with a formalized algorithm for when
> there is an association and when there isn't. Keep in mind that by the
> time that the input-element is inserted, the form-element might have
> been moved elsewhere. We likely don't need the association in that
> case, but detecting that that has happened sounds tricky.

My concrete proposal would be something like this:

In step 4 of http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/tree-construction.html#create-an-element-for-the-token,
add a requirement that "intended parent" and the "form element
pointer" be part of the same "home subtree" (defined at

> The way that Gecko currently works IIRC is that it creates the
> association any time it has seen a "<form>" without seeing a
> "</form>". And it breaks the association anytime an input-element's
> parent chain changes and the associated form-element is no longer in
> the parent chain.

This is basically the same thing Blink & WebKit do, with the caveat
that we also avoid associating <form>s with elements inside
<template>s (this is now reflected in step 4 of the algorithm, see

> On a related note, when are you guys going to add a cycle collector or
> other not-plain-refcounting memory manager :-)

Yes, that would be nice :)

- Adam

> / Jonas
>>> On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 2:01 PM, Adam Klein <adamk at chromium.org> wrote:
>>>> Hixie opened my eyes last week to parser-association behavior of the
>>>> sort found at http://software.hixie.ch/utilities/js/live-dom-viewer/?saved=2428.
>>>> In that case, an <input> in a detached tree is associated with a
>>>> <form> in the main document. This causes badness in WebKit and Blink
>>>> because the association between the <form> and the <input> (e.g., as
>>>> exposed in the HTMLFormElement.elements collection) is only weakly
>>>> held to avoid reference loops (and thus memory leaks). And that
>>>> weakness occasionally results in crashes when one of these objects is
>>>> collected before the other.
>>>> While all modern HTML parser implementations I tested seemed to agree
>>>> on their treatment of the above example (they all return "1" as
>>>> elements.length), this feature doesn't strike me as terribly useful.
>>>> And for what it's worth, it doesn't seem to be present in legacy IE.
>>>> I'm interested what others would think about changing the parser to
>>>> only associate a <form> with an <input> if both are in the same "home
>>>> subtree" (http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/infrastructure.html#home-subtree).
>>>> Or is there some deep web-compat reason for this parsing oddity?
>>>> - Adam

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