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Preloading an autocomplete list using the datalist feature

From: HTML Essential Training

Video: Preloading an autocomplete list using the datalist feature

Most browsers support some form of autocomplete for fields that you enter on a page. Let's take a working copy of dataset.html, and I am going to rename that to dataset-working, open that in my text editor, and we'll go ahead and open this in the browser as well. Open Firefox for this, and you'll notice I am just going to press the down arrow here in this Text 1 field, and you see I've already got a couple of different things in this in the past. And there they are, in my autocomplete list. aAd so if I just press the O letter, you see now I get the first one of them, and I can just select that and it will fill it in for me.

Preloading an autocomplete list using the datalist feature

Most browsers support some form of autocomplete for fields that you enter on a page. Let's take a working copy of dataset.html, and I am going to rename that to dataset-working, open that in my text editor, and we'll go ahead and open this in the browser as well. Open Firefox for this, and you'll notice I am just going to press the down arrow here in this Text 1 field, and you see I've already got a couple of different things in this in the past. And there they are, in my autocomplete list. aAd so if I just press the O letter, you see now I get the first one of them, and I can just select that and it will fill it in for me.

So if I type a few different things in here--I'll just type a three here and I'll type a four here and a five here and a seven here--and if I go back up here and type in something else--nine, foo, baz, blah, blah--now we've got a few different things in here and I am going to put my cursor up here on the URL Bar and press Enter, and that resets and reloads the whole page. Now when I press my down arrow there, I get a number of different options, and when I press my down arrow here, I get a number of different options on each of these.

So that's called auto-complete. Most browsers have some form of that available. If I come back in here to my HTML and in my form, I can come in here and I can say, for the entire form actually, autocomplete="off". If I save that and come over and reload, now you will notice I am pressing my down arrow and autocomplete is not on for any of these. On the other hand, I can do this just for one element if I want to. Let me do it just for the first one, save that and reload, and now you notice there is no autocomplete on the first one. I am pressing the down arrow.

If I go to the second one, I do have autocomplete, and the third one, I have autocomplete, just the first one that I don't. So I can do this for the whole form. I can do it just for a particular element. I can turn it off for the whole form if I want to, and I can turn it on for a particular element if I want to. So I will just turn it on for the second one, and it's off for everything else. I reload, it's off there. It's on here and it's off there and it's off there. It's also possible to pre-fill your own list of autocomplete options using HTML5's new datalist feature.

So you'll see I am taking out all of those autolist attributes, and you see down here I have this datalist, id="cats," and it has a bunch of options. And if I come up here in my first field or in any of my fields actually, I am going to say, list="cats" and cats is the id of the list that I want to use. So I save this and come back over to my browser, and I am going to do the whole reset thing by putting my cursor in the URL bar and press Enter. And now if I press by down arrow, you will notice that I have my autocomplete options up there at the top, but I also have these other options down here, which are the ones from my datalist.

And if I just start typing, you see it gives me some choices, and there they are. You notice that one of these options has a value inside the option, its contents in the option container, and I just want to talk about this briefly. This isn't a feature that has been implemented very much, but I've seen it in a few places and some of them actually do this. And I think it's a bad idea, for a couple of reasons. If I erase this and I come down here, let's just choose the one that says The Cat in the Hat, you will notice that the value that gets completed is the value here, Hat, not the whole text, Cat in the Hat.

And if I look at this in Chrome, you will see it gets implemented slightly differently. Press my down arrow there and you notice that it says hat on the left and it has Cat in the Hat a little bit lighter text. So at least it shows you that that's what's going on. But generally, it's a confusing option. The other problem with this is if you open this page in a browser that does not support the autocomplete feature--so I am going to close Firefox here and I am going to open it in an old version of Firefox that I have on this computer-- you'll notice that that Cat in the Hat text shows up at the bottom of my div.

And that's because it doesn't know what to do with any of this, and so it's just going to display any text that's inside of an element that it doesn't know what to do with. So I strongly suggest that you do not use that feature; just put your value in the value and leave your element empty, and be sure to have the closing option. This is actually in this context. It's optional and yet the page doesn't validate properly without it. So it doesn't hurt. It doesn't cost a lot to just type that, and most of the time we are going to be copying and pasting anyway.

So just have that closing option. So the way this works is you have a datalist element and it's a container and it contains options just like select does, and you want to put your autocomplete in your value attribute in each of the options. The id here corresponds with how you select it in your text field, list="cats", id="cats" and there you have it, and it works great. So the datalist feature is useful for preloading the autocomplete list for fields in a form.

This feature currently works in all the major browsers except Microsoft Internet Explorer.

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This video is part of

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HTML Essential Training

82 video lessons · 101728 viewers

Bill Weinman
Author

 
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  1. 5m 24s
    1. Welcome
      56s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 37s
    3. What you need to know about this course
      2m 51s
  2. 22m 0s
    1. What is HTML?
      4m 12s
    2. Examining the structure of an HTML document
      7m 50s
    3. Understanding tags and containers
      6m 4s
    4. Exploring content models in HTML5
      2m 23s
    5. Looking at obsolete elements
      1m 31s
  3. 27m 19s
    1. Understanding whitespace and comments
      3m 53s
    2. Displaying text with paragraphs
      3m 37s
    3. Applying style
      8m 5s
    4. Using block and inline tags
      6m 34s
    5. Displaying characters with references
      5m 10s
  4. 16m 36s
    1. Exploring the front matter of HTML
      2m 9s
    2. Applying CSS to your document
      3m 59s
    3. Adding scripting elements
      4m 54s
    4. Using the meta tag
      3m 34s
    5. Optimizing your page for search engines
      2m 0s
  5. 24m 59s
    1. Controlling line breaks and spaces
      2m 46s
    2. Exploring phrase elements
      1m 44s
    3. Using font markup elements
      1m 5s
    4. Highlighting text with mark
      1m 29s
    5. Adding headings
      1m 38s
    6. Using quotations and quote marks
      3m 2s
    7. Exploring preformatted text
      1m 45s
    8. Formatting lists
      2m 28s
    9. Forcing text direction
      3m 49s
    10. Suggesting word-break opportunities
      2m 29s
    11. Annotating East Asian languages
      2m 44s
  6. 29m 15s
    1. Introducing CSS
      55s
    2. Understanding CSS placement
      6m 55s
    3. Exploring CSS syntax
      10m 34s
    4. Understanding CSS units of measure
      3m 3s
    5. Some CSS examples
      7m 48s
  7. 22m 5s
    1. Using images
      4m 13s
    2. Flowing text around an image
      4m 55s
    3. Breaking lines around an image
      3m 3s
    4. Aligning images
      5m 25s
    5. Mapping links in an image
      4m 29s
  8. 22m 28s
    1. Understanding URLs
      2m 41s
    2. Working with hyperlinks
      3m 28s
    3. Using relative URLs
      4m 20s
    4. Specifying a base URL
      2m 19s
    5. Linking within a page
      4m 12s
    6. Using image links
      5m 28s
  9. 17m 2s
    1. Exploring list types
      3m 52s
    2. List elements in depth
      7m 44s
    3. Using text menus with unordered lists
      5m 26s
  10. 15m 30s
    1. Introduction to HTML semantics
      4m 9s
    2. Exploring an example
      4m 56s
    3. Marking up figures and illustrations
      2m 33s
    4. Creating collapsible details
      3m 52s
  11. 11m 18s
    1. Embedding audio
      5m 19s
    2. Embedding video
      5m 59s
  12. 11m 53s
    1. Creating ad-hoc Document Object Model (DOM) data with the data-* attribute
      4m 53s
    2. Displaying relative values with meter
      2m 57s
    3. Creating dynamic progress indicators
      4m 3s
  13. 4m 49s
    1. Overview of HTML5 microdata
      1m 8s
    2. Exploring an example with microdata
      3m 41s
  14. 7m 3s
    1. Understanding outlines
      52s
    2. A demonstration of outlining
      6m 11s
  15. 13m 1s
    1. Table basics
      7m 29s
    2. Exploring the semantic parts of a table
      2m 32s
    3. Grouping columns
      3m 0s
  16. 9m 55s
    1. Frames overview
      54s
    2. Using traditional frames
      4m 26s
    3. Exploring inline frames using iframe
      2m 7s
    4. Simulating frames with CSS
      2m 28s
  17. 53m 7s
    1. Introducing forms
      10m 24s
    2. Using text elements
      10m 12s
    3. Using checkboxes and radio buttons
      2m 37s
    4. Creating selection lists and dropdown lists
      5m 14s
    5. Submit and button elements
      8m 48s
    6. Using an image as a submit button
      2m 15s
    7. Keeping context with the hidden element
      3m 0s
    8. Setting tab order
      2m 7s
    9. Preloading an autocomplete list using the datalist feature
      5m 26s
    10. Displaying results with output
      3m 4s
  18. 19m 47s
    1. Touring a complete site
      2m 14s
    2. Touring the HTML
      8m 44s
    3. Touring the CSS
      8m 49s
  19. 29s
    1. Goodbye
      29s

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