Beginner stuff

Introduction to HTML5 form validation

I recently embarked on improving the client-side form validation for a client. There were about 400 lines of form validation code stuffed inside a 1000 line form_helper.js. I looked for lightweight form validation scripts but after some hemming and hawing I decided to try my hand (again) at native HTML5 Form Validation.

If you’ve ever experimented with HTML5 Form Validation, you’ve probably been disappointed. The out-of-box experience isn’t quite what you want. Adding the required attribute to inputs works wonderfully. However the styling portion with input:invalid sorta sucks because empty inputs are trigger the :invalid state, even before the user has interacted with the page.

I finally sat down and spent a couple days trying to make HTML5 Form Validation work the way I want it. I had the following goals:

  1. Leverage browser-level feedback, free focus management and accessible labelling
  2. Only validate inputs on submit
  3. Styling with .error class

With this wishlist in hand, I set off and found a solution that works with only 6 lines of code.

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CSS Ruleset Terminology

An inforgraphic demonstrating the various parts of a CSS rule and their names. See the text following this image for more information.

If you ever wanted a mini-cheat sheet for what every part of a CSS rule is called, here it is:

  • The whole thing is a ruleset.
  • The curly braces and everything inside is a declaration block.
  • The bit before the opening curly brace is a selector.
  • Each key/value pair, as separated by a colon and ending in a semicolon, is a declaration.
  • In those key/value pairs, the key is a property (or property name), and the value is a value (or property value).

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