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4.10.3 The form element

Categories:
Flow content.
Palpable content.
Contexts in which this element can be used:
Where flow content is expected.
Content model:
Flow content, but with no form element descendants.
Content attributes:
Global attributes
accept-charset
action
autocomplete
enctype
method
name
novalidate
target
DOM interface:
[OverrideBuiltins]
interface HTMLFormElement : HTMLElement {
           attribute DOMString acceptCharset;
           attribute DOMString action;
           attribute DOMString autocomplete;
           attribute DOMString enctype;
           attribute DOMString encoding;
           attribute DOMString method;
           attribute DOMString name;
           attribute boolean noValidate;
           attribute DOMString target;

  readonly attribute HTMLFormControlsCollection elements;
  readonly attribute long length;
  getter Element (unsigned long index);
  getter object (DOMString name);

  void submit();
  void reset();
  boolean checkValidity();
};

The form element represents a collection of form-associated elements, some of which can represent editable values that can be submitted to a server for processing.

The accept-charset attribute gives the character encodings that are to be used for the submission. If specified, the value must be an ordered set of unique space-separated tokens that are ASCII case-insensitive, and each token must be an ASCII case-insensitive match for the preferred MIME name of an ASCII-compatible character encoding. [IANACHARSET]

The name attribute represents the form's name within the forms collection. The value must not be the empty string, and the value must be unique amongst the form elements in the forms collection that it is in, if any.

The autocomplete attribute is an enumerated attribute. The attribute has two states. The on keyword maps to the on state, and the off keyword maps to the off state. The attribute may also be omitted. The missing value default is the on state. The off state indicates that by default, input elements in the form will have their resulting autocompletion state set to off; the on state indicates that by default, input elements in the form will have their resulting autocompletion state set to on.

The action, enctype, method, novalidate, and target attributes are attributes for form submission.

form . elements

Returns an HTMLCollection of the form controls in the form (excluding image buttons for historical reasons).

form . length

Returns the number of form controls in the form (excluding image buttons for historical reasons).

form[index]
form(index)

Returns the indexth element in the form (excluding image buttons for historical reasons).

form[name]
form(name)

Returns the form control (or, if there are several, a RadioNodeList of the form controls) in the form with the given ID or name (excluding image buttons for historical reasons); or, if there are none, returns the img element with the given ID.

Once an element has been referenced using a particular name, that name will continue being available as a way to reference that element in this method, even if the element's actual ID or name changes, for as long as the element remains in the Document.

If there are multiple matching items, then a RadioNodeList object containing all those elements is returned.

form . submit()

Submits the form.

form . reset()

Resets the form.

form . checkValidity()

Returns true if the form's controls are all valid; otherwise, returns false.

The autocomplete IDL attribute must reflect the content attribute of the same name, limited to only known values.

The name IDL attribute must reflect the content attribute of the same name.

The acceptCharset IDL attribute must reflect the accept-charset content attribute.


The elements IDL attribute must return an HTMLFormControlsCollection rooted at the Document node while the form element is in a Document and rooted at the form element itself when it is not, whose filter matches listed elements whose form owner is the form element, with the exception of input elements whose type attribute is in the Image Button state, which must, for historical reasons, be excluded from this particular collection.

The length IDL attribute must return the number of nodes represented by the elements collection.

The supported property indices at any instant are the indices supported by the object returned by the elements attribute at that instant.

When a form element is indexed for indexed property retrieval, the user agent must return the value returned by the item method on the elements collection, when invoked with the given index as its argument.


Each form element has a mapping of names to elements called the past names map. It is used to persist names of controls even when they change names.

The supported property names consist of the values of all the id and name attributes of all the listed elements and img elements that are descendants of the form element, and all the names currently in the past names map.

When a form element is indexed for named property retrieval, the user agent must run the following steps:

  1. Let candidates be a live RadioNodeList object containing all the listed elements that are descendants of the form element and that have either an id attribute or a name attribute equal to name, in tree order.

  2. If candidates is empty, let candidates be a live RadioNodeList object containing all the img elements that are descendants of the form element and that have either an id attribute or a name attribute equal to name, in tree order.

  3. If candidates is empty, name is the name of one of the entries in the form element's past names map: return the object associated with name in that map.

  4. If candidates contains more than one node, return candidates and abort these steps.

  5. Otherwise, candidates contains exactly one node. Add a mapping from name to the node in candidates in the form element's past names map, replacing the previous entry with the same name, if any.

  6. Return the node in candidates.

If an element listed in the form element's past names map is removed from the Document, then its entries must be removed from the map.


The submit() method, when invoked, must submit the form element from the form element itself, with the submitted from submit() method flag set.

The reset() method, when invoked, must run the following steps:

  1. If the form element is marked as locked for reset, then abort these steps.

  2. Mark the form element as locked for reset.

  3. Reset the form element.

  4. Unmark the form element as locked for reset.

If the checkValidity() method is invoked, the user agent must statically validate the constraints of the form element, and return true if the constraint validation return a positive result, and false if it returned a negative result.

This example shows two search forms:

<form action="http://www.google.com/search" method="get">
 <label>Google: <input type="search" name="q"></label> <input type="submit" value="Search...">
</form>
<form action="http://www.bing.com/search" method="get">
 <label>Bing: <input type="search" name="q"></label> <input type="submit" value="Search...">
</form>