solidifying a really neat forms hack (Marc Andreessen)
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 93 02:47:23 -0800
From: (Marc Andreessen)
Message-id: <>
Subject: solidifying a really neat forms hack
Due to a cute little trap door we put into the Mosaic for X 2.0 forms
support, forms that consist of only a single text entry field with
NAME="isindex" result in query strings that look like:


...and NOT:


The reason we did this is because it was the cleanest way to handle
ISINDEX via inlined forms -- when the HTML parser sees an ISINDEX tag,
it replaces it with a fill-out form with a single text entry field
named "isindex", and Mosaic subsequently special-cases the handling of
forms with only a single value and NAME="isindex" when sending out a
query from such a form.

So then, Tony Sanders (originator of the incredibly useful ISMAP
attribute to IMG -- how is it he comes up with these things before
everyone else??? :-) realized that this means that *normal* forms in
arbitrary documents that contain, you guessed it, only a single text
entry field with NAME="form", provide transparent access to normal
ISINDEX servers (WAIS servers, Gopher search engines, etc.).

Some of you have already seen the a sample of the implications of this
paradigm shift (God, I love that term); e.g.,

Also, yesterday I noticed:

For those of you without forms-enabled browsers, these documents
contain a series of forms as described above that point to existing
ISINDEX servers.  For example, the NCSA document given above allows
you to search on the CUI WWW catalog, the GNA Meta-Library, the Whole
Internet Catalog, Veronica, Jughead, the WAIS directory of servers,
etc. all from a single document -- a text entry field is provided for
earch search engine.

I propose that this technique be institutionalized by a one-time-only
special case in the forms spec that will insure that all forms-enabled
browsers can provide this capability.  It's really quite powerful, and
I think it's well worth a special case in the spec -- existing query
databases from a wide variety of information services can be folded
into arbitrary HTML documents very smoothly.