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Versions: 00                                                            
 INTERNET DRAFT                                                Paul Robinson
                                        Tansin A. Darcos & Company/TDR, Inc.
                                                                July 1, 1996
                                                   Expires December 31, 1996
 
               OnOff Switch Input Object Widget for HTML Forms
                   <draft-robinson-tdr-html-onoff-00.txt>
 
 Document Summary
 
             This document proposes a new type of input object, an "On-Off
         Switch" for HTML forms, and in doing so, proposes new values for
         the TYPE= keyword.
 
 
 Status of this Memo
 
     This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are working
     documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
     and its working groups.  Note that other groups may also distribute
     working documents as Internet-Drafts.
 
     Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
     and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
     time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts as reference
     material or to cite them other than as ``work in progress.''
 
     To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check the
     "1id-abstracts.txt" listing contained in the Internet-Drafts shadow
     Directories on ftp.is.co.za (Africa), nic.nordu.net (Europe),
     munnari.oz.au (Pacific Rim), ds.internic.net (US East Cost) or
     ftp.isi.edu (US West Coast).
 
     Distribution of this document is unlimited.  Please send comments to
     <ONOFF@TDR.COM>.
 
 
 Table of Contents
 
     Document Summary                                                   1
     Status of this Memo                                                1
     Table of Contents                                                  1
     Introduction                                                       2
     Description of the Proposed Item                                   2
     Alternatives                                                       3
     Why propose this?                                                  3
     Summary of proposed changes                                        3
     Proposed change to the <INPUT> tag for on-off switch widgets:      3
     Technical Description                                              4
     CGI Return values                                                  4
     Example                                                            4
     Other Possibilities                                                5
     Settings and Conflict Resolution                                   5
     Security Considerations                                            5
     Author's Address                                                   5
 
 
                                           1
 
 Robinson                       On-Off Switch                      Page 2
 
 Introduction
 
        In the options available for Text and Graphical User Interfaces
     and input forms under HTML, there are many different input objects,
     otherwise known as "widgets", which are available including but not
     limited to list, combo, and check boxes, and radio buttons.  One
     particular type of selector is not present: the "on-off" switch.
     This document proposes to rectify the situation by adding this
     feature to HTML forms input.
 
 
 Description of the Proposed Item
 
        The idea for an on/off switch came to me from a program I was
     using, in the manner in which it allowed me to select options.  I
     noted that the feature of the on/off switch had not been created
     or implemented for HTML or GUI environments, and it seemed like
     such a useful concept that, in a flash of brilliance, I knew that
     it was something that should be proposed.
 
        Explaining a commonplace item such as an on-off switch may seem
     silly, but the failure to clarify things which are ambiguous can
     cause problems.
 
        An On-Off switch is an indicator that shows two states, on and
     off, and has one of them selected.  This type of selector would be
     useful for various applications to show options which are or are
     not selected, where either a selection of one state or the other
     must be done, where there are only two selections, and a default
     value exists.
 
        One example of the usefulness of this would be where a display
     of the current settings of a particular object were shown, and the
     user, being shown these settings, could change them by selecting
     the opposite setting.  In a Graphical User Interface, the user
     could be shown a slidebar or a light switch, and "clicking" on the
     object would change its setting and provide a visual confirmation.
     In a Text User Interface, the user could be shown the terms "ON OFF"
     with one of them highlighted, and selecting this input item, the
     highlighting would change to the other.
 
        The advantage to this over using current methods is that the
     item shown would explicitly be a switch rather than a pair of
     selectors.  Also, since the switch display is done locally, a
     graphical image of a switch can be done faster via the local
     user's computer than by downloading an icon of a switch for each
     setting, or, in the case of a text-based interface, the text
     browser can show the words ON OFF (or the local equivalent)
     instead.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Robinson                       On-Off Switch                      Page 3
 
 Alternatives
 
        Currently, such an indicator could be simulated via use of
     radio buttons or a checkbox to select the "ON" setting.  This,
     however, does not provide the type of functionality that a true
     on/off switch provides, thus I propose that the "on-off switch"
     type widget should be available to explicitly provide this type
     of feature.
 
 
 Why propose this?
 
        One reason for adding this type of item is that an on-off
     switch could be displayed more compactly than perhaps two standard
     radio buttons.  An on-off switch could be shown as a slide bar
     with one side or the other showing the slider, or by an image of
     a switch, or other such graphical devices.  Thus the number of
     controls visible in a form or on a screen may be increased as
     opposed to the standard sized radio buttons or checkboxes.
 
        Also, radio buttons and checkboxes do not look like a toggle
     switch, thus they don't provide the type of visual feedback that
     a switch does.
 
 
 Summary of proposed changes
 
        Note that for all of the examples shown in this document, the
     keywords and attributes, as well as the values of keywords, are in
     all upper case, and values that are set by the creator of the page
     are shown in lower case, this is merely for the convenience of the
     reader.  As with all HTML tags, the case of the tag values which
     are used is unimportant, and may be upper, lower, or mixed case,
     so, for example, TYPE=, type=, Type=, and TypE= are all considered
     identical, as are "ONOFF", "OnOff", "ONoff", "onoff", etc.
 
 
 Proposed change to the <INPUT> tag for on-off switch widgets:
 
          For the TYPE= keyword, a new values is proposed.
 
          o    TYPE="ONOFF", for an on-off switch widget input device.
 
          For the VALUE= keyword, the following optional values are used
      to initialize the switch:
 
        o     VALUE="0" where the switch is initialized to the off
               position.
         o     VALUE="OFF" where the switch is initialized to the off
               position.
        o     VALUE="1" where the switch is initialized to the on
               position.  This is the default if the VALUE= keyword
               is not used, or if the value of that keyword is anything
               other than these four values.
        o     VALUE="ON" where the switch is initialized to the on
               position.
 
 
 Robinson                       On-Off Switch                      Page 4
 
 Technical Description
 
        This document proposes a new value to be added to the set of
     controls available in the INPUT tag for HTML forms.  Comments are
     shown in parentheses, and are not part of the proposed enhancement.
 
        The change to the INPUT tag to provide for on-off switches is
     proposed as follows:
 
        <INPUT>
 
                 (The following standard keyword is used unchanged)
 
             NAME = "value"       (The name is that passed to a CGI
                                    script, as usual)
 
         (The "TYPE=" standard keyword is updated to add the following:)
 
            TYPE = "ONOFF"
 
               (The "VALUE=" keyword is optionally set as follows:)
 
             VALUE="0"             (The on-off switch is off)
             VALUE="OFF"                  (The on-off switch is off)
             VALUE="1"             (Default: the on-off switch is on)
             VALUE="ON"            (The on-off switch is on)
 
                (No other keywords or values are allowed.)
 
 
 
 
 CGI Return values
 
        A CGI script receiving a response from a form which used the
     TYPE="ONOFF" keyword, the value specified in the NAME= keyword is
     returned, followed by the equal sign and the numeral 1 or a 0,
     depending on which was either set by the user or originally
     initialized if it was not changed.
 
        It is my understanding that all input objects which were defined
     on the form are returned as CGI response values when the form is
     submitted (and that is shown in the response example fragment below);
     if I am incorrect on this point, then only the changed items would be
     returned with the response on the "submit" button.
 
 
 Example
 
        The following example HTML fragment should make this clear:
 
            <FORM METHOD="POST" ACTION="/cgi/house">
             Here is the state of your house:
             <BR>
             <INPUT NAME="Air" TYPE="ONOFF" VALUE="0"> Conditioner
             &NBSP;&NBSP;
             <INPUT NAME="Living" TYPE="ONOFF" VALUE="0"> Room Lights
             &NBSP;&NBSP;
             <INPUT NAME="Bedroom" TYPE="ONOFF" VALUE="1"> Lights
             <BR>
             <INPUT NAME="Hall" TYPE="ONOFF" VALUE="OFF"> Lights
             &NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;&NBSP;
             <INPUT NAME="Front" TYPE=ONOFF> Porch Lights
             &NBSP;&NBSP;
             <INPUT NAME="Back" TYPE=ONOFF VALUE="ON"> Yard Lights
             <BR>
 
        More items (such as the "reset" and "submit" buttons) would
    follow but are not relevant to this discussion.  (Is the light on in
    the refrigerator when the door is closed?)
 
        The above fragment would (in part) show something similar to the
    following (Note: for the purposes of this text document, where "v"
    shows below, it represents an image of a light switch in the "off"
    position, and where "^" shows below, it represents an image of a
    light switch in the "on" position):
 
 
         Here is the state of your house:
 
         V Air Conditioner   V Living Room Lights  ^ Bedroom Lights
         V Hall Lights       ^ Front Porch Lights  ^ Back Yard Lights
 
 
        If the user were to change nothing and click on the submit
    button, the following would be returned to the CGI program:
 
        Air=0&Living=0&Bedroom=1&Hall=0&Front=1&Back=1
 
        If the user clicked on the air conditioner indicator, then the
    submit button, the following would be returned to the CGI program:
 
         Air=1&Living=0&Bedroom=1&Hall=0&Front=1&Back=1
 
 
 
 
 
 Robinson                       On-Off Switch                      Page 5
 
 
 Other Possibilities
 
        The creation of this feature may allow the use of the World
    Wide Web as a front-end for Full Screen Panel selection and changing
    of values for SNMP controller applications.  The possible uses for
    such a feature are limitless, seem to be extremely useful, and thus
    I propose and recommend adoption of this input object as a standard
    feature for HTML forms input.
 
 
 Settings and Conflict Resolution
 
     o    The default setting for an ONOFF switch is "ON" or "1".
     o    Illegal VALUE= settings are ignored.
     o    If more than one of VALUE="0", VALUE="1", VALUE="ON" or
          VALUE="OFF" is used in an <INPUT> tag, the last one used
          is the one that is effective.
     o    The response returned to CGI for the substitution of the
          NAME="value" parameter, is value=0 or value=1 only.
 
 
 Security Considerations
 
        Are not explored by this memo.
 
 
 Author's Address
 
        Paul Robinson  <PAUL@TDR.COM>
        Tansin A. Darcos & Company/TDR, Inc.
        8604 Second Ave #104
        Silver Spring, MD 20901 USA
 
        For Comments about this memo:  ONOFF@TDR.COM