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Creating accessible forms

From: Dreamweaver CS3 Beyond the Basics

Video: Creating accessible forms

When building items such as forms, it's often easy to forget specific accessibility or web standard conventions as you create your pages. Dreamweaver makes it easy to ensure that your pages are standards compliant by enabling its accessibility preferences. While exploring Dreamweaver's form accessibility preferences we will be introduced to another important tag in making your form elements fully accessible, the label tag. The label tag is used to associate a textual label with a specific form element. There are two ways to pass this association to the browser or any other devices consuming your content. The first is to wrap both the label text and the form element inside the label tag.

Creating accessible forms

When building items such as forms, it's often easy to forget specific accessibility or web standard conventions as you create your pages. Dreamweaver makes it easy to ensure that your pages are standards compliant by enabling its accessibility preferences. While exploring Dreamweaver's form accessibility preferences we will be introduced to another important tag in making your form elements fully accessible, the label tag. The label tag is used to associate a textual label with a specific form element. There are two ways to pass this association to the browser or any other devices consuming your content. The first is to wrap both the label text and the form element inside the label tag.

The second method is to use the for attribute in the label tag to reference a form element ID. The for attribute method is more flexible since it allows form elements and the labels to be physically separated, but still functional. So we will take a look at both methods once we turn on the accessibility attributes in Dreamweaver. To review Dreamweaver's accessibility of preferences we will need to go to the Preferences dialog box and on the PC you will find that under Edit > Preferences. On the Mac we will go to Dreamweaver and choose Preferences. So it brings up our Preferences dialog box and the second category from the top is Accessibility. So that's what I am going to choose. They are all in alphabetical order except for general, which is kind of at the top of everything. But you can see that our Accessibility Preferences really aren't that complex. We have accessibility options that we can turn on for our Form objects, for Frames, for Media, and for Images.

Now the default for these is to be turned on. So really you shouldn't even have to turn them on, but if you don't see what we are about to see as we insert form elements on the page, you need to go check those again and make sure the checkbox for Form objects is selected. Some people turn them off because every time you try to insert an image or a form object on the page, Dreamweaver is going to display a dialog box that asks some questions about making that particular object accessible. I don't recommend turning them off, because it actually speeds workflow process instead of impede it and you will see that in just a moment.

So let's go ahead and click OK. As I mentioned prior to this, we were going to be doing both label method. So we will work with one of the existing text input boxes as we explore using the label tag. I need to find the top input text field and the easiest way to do this just for me, just to, here in Design View, click on that Text Input Field and then switch to Code View and that will take me right to it. So let it be scrolling around. So I can see that I have the text Name and just below that I have an input element whose name is "name", type is "text" and whose id is "name". Now you might be wondering why do form elements need both a name and an id. Well, as we mentioned earlier, the for attribute referred that it's the form elements id attribute. The name element is typically passed along if there is any JavaScript involved. So at this point when the standards is XHTML transition we are going to be using both the name and the id attribute.

Well, let's go ahead and use a label tag. Go ahead and highlight both the word Name and the input text field. Once again use your Quick Tag Editor to wrap that in a label tag and that's all there is to it. Now there is a label tag around both the text and the text input form element. So if I switch back to Design View, nothing looks different. Now this form element is standards compliant and accessible. So we mentioned earlier that there are two methods of applying the label tag. Let's take a look at the second one. Click directly after your first input text field and hit Return to go down to the next line. We are going to place a request for an email address here. So we are going to use our Form objects in the Insert toolbar. So go up to your Insert toolbar and click on the Form tab and you are going to see it displayed all of the different form objects.

Now in CS3 there are some new icons over here on the far right-hand side. We have a chapter dealing with the Spry framework, but these four icons deal with doing Spry Validation. Now we are going to talk about validation in the later exercise and we will discuss these icons then. So I need to insert another text field. So I can find the Text Field on the far left-hand side, second icon from the left. Just go ahead and click that. Before it will ever place a text input element on the page, it brings up the Input Tag Accessibility Attributes and we have to answer a few questions here. Now we could click Cancel or we could click OK and it would go ahead and still put the element on the page, but it's a good idea for us to go ahead and fill out everything here, because that saves us a lot of steps. Our id is going to be "email", all lowercase, and for label, I am actually going to type in email: and that's going to be the physical text that's on the page next to it.

Notice that below that I have a style and it's basically asking me how I want to associate the label tag with the form element, should I wrap it with the label tag, should I attach it using the for attribute or should I just have no label tag whatsoever. Well, let's go ahead and attach the label with the for attribute in it. And if you are going to do that, it's very important that you go ahead and assign an ID at the top of it, because if you don't, then this method won't work. We can also choose to position it before the form item or after the form item. For further accessibility we can give it an access key and we can also specify a tab index order at this point. Tab index values can specify the order in which your form elements are tabbed through as somebody is filling out your form.

So I will just go ahead and click OK and right there on the page, it says now email and there is my form field right beside that. So notice that it actually saved me a step. I didn't have to type in the text Email, because it did that for me with a label tag. Now let's go in a Code View and examine exactly what's taken place here. So if we look at the code, now we have label tag with a for attribute and this is for Email and it wraps the text Email and then the label tag closes. So it's not wrapping the entire text and form element like our prior label tag.

This one is detached from it, but it's associated with it by using the for attribute and it's referencing the IDs. So these guys could be in separate table cells, they could be in different locations and they are still going to refer to each other. Screen readers will still be able to do direct, a correlation between the text and the form element and it's a lot more flexible in terms of a method. So we are actually going to convert our top example to using the for attribute as well. So I am going to go up into the label tag right above Name and I am going to type in for and the id of that text element is Name, so I will pass that along with it. And then I've got to remember to move the closing label tag. I could leave it where it is, but it's a better idea to go ahead and make everything consistent. So we will just move that closing label tag by highlighting it and dragging it just after the text name. Let's go ahead and save our file. And we will switch back over the Design View. So visually again, it doesn't look like a whole lot has changed there.

So making sure that Dreamweaver's accessibility attributes are turned on, makes creating standards compliant forms easier and a lot faster since it creates properly formatted labeled text at the same time that you place your form elements on the page. Next, we will use CSS to layout form elements without resorting to non-semantic table markup for our design.

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This video is part of

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Dreamweaver CS3 Beyond the Basics

102 video lessons · 38725 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 2m 3s
    1. Welcome
      1m 17s
    2. Using the exercise files
      46s
  2. 1h 23m
    1. Reviewing the Coding toolbar
      8m 42s
    2. Customizing the Coding toolbar
      9m 52s
    3. Taking advantage of Code Hinting
      7m 20s
    4. Using snippets and shortcuts
      11m 10s
    5. Using the Quick Tag Editor
      5m 18s
    6. Using Find and Replace
      9m 50s
    7. Regular expressions
      5m 39s
    8. Using Bridge with Dreamweaver CS3
      8m 28s
    9. Round-trip editing with Photoshop CS3
      3m 40s
    10. Leveraging image variables in Photoshop CS3
      7m 32s
    11. Integrating external variables into your workflow
      6m 16s
  3. 37m 26s
    1. Understanding the CSS Styles panel
      7m 59s
    2. Understanding the Cascade
      5m 50s
    3. Understanding Inheritance
      5m 8s
    4. Understanding Specificity
      7m 5s
    5. Managing CSS styles
      5m 4s
    6. Using Design-Time style sheets
      6m 20s
  4. 2h 19m
    1. Using the new CSS template pages
      5m 59s
    2. Understanding DIV tag structure and layout
      12m 0s
    3. Understanding the CSS box model
      10m 0s
    4. Using absolute and relative positioning
      8m 35s
    5. Understanding floating elements
      7m 9s
    6. Clearing floats
      7m 19s
    7. Using floats to control page layout
      3m 45s
    8. Building structure and assigning IDs
      10m 19s
    9. Applying basic styling to structured content
      11m 14s
    10. Positioning container elements
      11m 4s
    11. Enhancing layouts with background graphics
      11m 48s
    12. Creating faux columns with background graphics
      8m 55s
    13. Creating rounded corners with background graphics
      9m 17s
    14. Building navigation with CSS
      16m 57s
    15. Using Dreamweaver's Browser Check feature
      5m 31s
  5. 53m 22s
    1. Creating properly structured forms
      6m 30s
    2. Creating accessible forms
      6m 41s
    3. Using CSS to lay out form structure
      7m 40s
    4. Creating vertical columns for form elements
      7m 48s
    5. Adding user feedback
      5m 52s
    6. Applying advanced styling to forms
      8m 11s
    7. Client-side form validation
      4m 17s
    8. Validating forms with the Spry Validation tools
      6m 23s
  6. 1h 20m
    1. Understanding the Spry framework
      3m 43s
    2. Defining a data source for use in Spry
      3m 56s
    3. Creating a Spry table
      8m 8s
    4. Using the Spry widgets
      8m 11s
    5. Connecting various data sets
      4m 50s
    6. Understanding Spry widget structures
      7m 1s
    7. Applying custom styles to Spry widgets
      6m 24s
    8. Applying additional custom styles to Spry widgets
      8m 46s
    9. Controlling Spry widget behaviors with JavaScript
      6m 0s
    10. Controlling Spry widget animations with JavaScript
      9m 31s
    11. Creating effects with Spry behaviors
      4m 42s
    12. Hand-coding Spry
      9m 11s
  7. 1h 11m
    1. Creating a base template
      8m 6s
    2. Creating editable attributes
      6m 26s
    3. Creating a new page from a template
      7m 42s
    4. Applying a template to an existing page
      4m 36s
    5. Creating nested templates
      5m 24s
    6. Using repeating regions
      6m 34s
    7. Creating editable and non-editable optional regions
      6m 0s
    8. Using template parameters
      7m 26s
    9. Using template expressions
      9m 59s
    10. Using conditional template expressions
      8m 54s
  8. 54m 40s
    1. Examining XML structure
      2m 44s
    2. Creating an XML document
      9m 9s
    3. Using the CDATA structure
      5m 7s
    4. Creating an XSLT file
      4m 33s
    5. Binding data from an XML to an XSLT document
      5m 6s
    6. Inserting repeating regions into an XSL document
      5m 16s
    7. Creating a client-side XSL transformation
      2m 52s
    8. Styling a remote RSS feed
      7m 29s
    9. Creating a server-side XSL transformation
      5m 31s
    10. Writing XSL expressions
      6m 53s
  9. 1h 2m
    1. Overview of building dynamic websites
      1m 35s
    2. Installing PHP, MySQL, and Apache on Mac
      3m 22s
    3. Installing PHP, MySQL, and Apache on Windows
      3m 54s
    4. Creating a MySQL database
      3m 16s
    5. Defining a testing server and database bindings
      6m 14s
    6. Creating a database recordset
      4m 35s
    7. Adding dynamic content to the page
      5m 14s
    8. Creating repeating regions of dynamic content
      7m 6s
    9. Filtering database records
      7m 39s
    10. Using the Live Preview
      10m 22s
    11. Passing URL parameters
      4m 23s
    12. Dynamically generating links
      5m 18s
  10. 57m 9s
    1. Understanding behaviors
      5m 16s
    2. Installing additional behaviors
      3m 39s
    3. Planning to create a custom behavior
      3m 42s
    4. Examining existing behaviors
      5m 32s
    5. Building a behavior function
      7m 23s
    6. Creating an Action file
      6m 48s
    7. Enabling behavior functions
      9m 1s
    8. Initializing the user interface for a behavior
      3m 9s
    9. Loading behaviors in Dreamweaver
      6m 47s
    10. Testing and debugging behaviors
      5m 52s
  11. 27m 12s
    1. Running reports
      7m 41s
    2. Checking and validating links
      3m 40s
    3. Using cloaking
      5m 42s
    4. Using Check In/Check Out
      4m 3s
    5. Using Design Notes
      6m 6s
  12. 20s
    1. Goodbye
      20s

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