Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Types

Posted by Nikhil | February 13, 2019
Cross Browser Testing • LambdaTest Experiments • Web Development •

14185 Views | 11 Min Read

Forms have been an integral part of the HTML ever since its foundation, allowing websites to seamlessly interact with users to collect data. HTML 4 originally had only 8 input types which imposed a huge restriction on developers and capabilities of web forms. However, with the roll out of HTML5 in 2014 and web forms 2.0, 13 new form input types were introduced that supercharged HTML Forms.

The new input types not only introduced specific data fields like telephone, email, url, date, number etc but also added visual interactive widgets like datepickers, colorpickers, sliders etc to enhance user experience to a completely new tangent.

As good as these newly introduced form input types were looking, they posed a plethora of cross browser compatibility, and consistency issues which in some cases could dampen user experience or lead to faulty form submissions.

Today, we are going to look at some to major cross browser compatibility issues with form input types and how to resolve them using javascript/jquery plugins and polyfills so that they work perfectly even in legacy browsers like IE

LambdaTest – A Cross Browser Testing Tool

Before we look into ways to fix cross browser compatibility issues, we need a mechanism to check whether our code is being rendered by different browsers in the intended manner or not. However, the idea of maintaining an entire library of browsers on your system and mobile devices is unfeasible and expensive. This is where cloud based cross browser testing tools come to rescue. Well, if you are aiming to perform cross browser testing then LambdaTest is the right platform for you.

With LambdaTest, you can test over 2000+ browsers, and OS combinations hosted by Virtual Machines running through their cloud servers. I will be demonstrating real time testing feature of LambdaTest below, using which we can interact with our web page inside the VM hosted by LambdaTest and ensure whether the fix is working as intended or not.

1. Cross Browser Compatibility Issue With Form Input Type – Date/time

HTML5 introduced 5 new input types that enables web developers to easily add date and time pickers to any website using native HTML without relying on any JavaScript or jQuery library.

  • date
  • month
  • week
  • time
  • datetime-local

These 5 form input types are used to create input fields that enables a user to select not only a single date, but also a week, month, time, or completely different time zones using a dedicated date/time picker widget interface which varies with different browsers.

NOTE: The HTML < input type= "datetime" > has been deprecated and is no longer supported by browsers. This input time allowed users to pick date, time and time zone. However, it has been replaced by a new input time “datetime-local”.

Syntax

These input types can be further enhanced by using attributes like min, max, value and step.

  • max : highest value of acceptable date
  • min : lowest value of acceptable date
  • readonly : If the input’s contents are read-only
  • step : stepping interval when clicking up and down spinner buttons

Form input type – ‘Date’ rendered by different browsers

Date rendered by different browsers

Browser Support

Browser Support

Out of all the new HTML5 form features, date time input types have one of the poorest browser support. As you can see in the above Can I Use screenshot, the 5 Date and Time input types are not supported by any Internet Explorer version, neither by Safari nor by Opera mini. Also, until v57, Firefox also did not support date/time input. In unsupported browsers, < input type”date” >(or time,week,month, or datetime-local) degrades gracefully to a simple text box < input type="text" >.

“Date” is not supported in Safari 12

Form Input Type – “Date” is not supported in Safari 12

“Date” is not supported in Internet Explorer 11

Form Input Type -“Date” is not supported in Internet Explorer 11

Did you notice the cross browser compatibility issue with form input type between Safari 12 & IE 11?

That was just a single instance. What happens if you want to test a static website or if you wish to capture screenshots of the display of your webpage in bulk?

Well, we can make use of Screenshot Testing feature provided by LambdaTest. The automated bulk screenshot capture would allow you to test your website across 25 browser + OS configuration in one go.

You would also find the below tutorial video to be of great use. This video will demonstrate cross browser compatibility issues with form input types related to HTML date property.

Fixing Cross Browser Compatibility Issue – jQuery UI

One of the most popular and reliable way to deal with cross browser compatibility issue with Datepickers is to use a very popular jQuery library called jQuery UI. With the code below, we can leverage jQueryUI’s DatePicker to target all form elements with input type “date” to add date/time picker functionality to not only unsupported browsers like Internet Explorer and Safari but also ensure uniformity in widget interface across all browsers.

jQuery UI library

jQuery UI library

Head over to jQuery UI website to download necessary files. Add jquery-ui.min.css, jquery-ui.min.js and jquery files to your project. You can also additionally use a theme like ui-lightness.

‘Date’ is fixed for Internet explorer 11 using jQuery UI

Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Type – ‘Date’ is fixed for Internet explorer 11 by using jQuery UI

One drawback of this code is that both native date picker of browser(like chrome or firefox) and jQuery UI will be in effect and overlap. We need to ensure that, if a browser supports input type date, then do not trigger jQuery UI datepicker.

We can ensure this in 2 ways –

  1. Using vanilla javascript to trigger jQuery UI datepicker only in unsupported browsers. As we discussed earlier, in this case < input type="date" > is gracefully degraded to < input type="text" >. As shown in the code below, datepicker is conditionally applied if variable “elem” returns input type – text.
  2. Using Modernizr javascript library to run feature detection test for form input type date and conditionally loading jQuery Ui datepicker for unsupported browser. If you are new to modernizr then you can follow my other blog where I have demonstrated feature detection with Modernizr for cross browser compatibility. Download modernizr.js development build from the official website.


2. Cross Browser Compatibility Issue With Form Input Type – Color

Form input type color enables users to either enter a hex value of a color in the text field or select a color from a visual color picker widget which is implemented natively by browsers. Some browsers allow only simple hexadecimal values are allowed without any alpha value. The color picker widget varies from browser to browser.

Syntax

browser compatibility issue

Form Input Type – ‘Color’ rendered by different browsers

Browser Support

browser support

Just like date and time input types, color type is also plagued with poor browser support. While all major browsers like Google Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Firefox and Edge do support form input type color; Internet Explorer, Safari, iOS and Opera mini don’t support this feature. Color picker functionality for these browsers can be added by using javascript/jQuery plugins or polyfills.

Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Type

Form Input Type – “Color” is not supported in Internet Explorer 11

Fixing Cross Browser Compatibility Issue – Spectrum jquery plugin

Since jQuery UI does not offer a colorpicker plugin, we can instead utilise Spectrum, a jQuery plugin which is not only highly customizable, but can also be used as a simple input type=color polyfill.

Spectrum colorpicker jQuery plugin

Spectrum colorpicker jQuery plugin

Visit Spectrum Github repository and download spectrum.css and spectrum.js files. Spectrum color picker can be further customised as shown in the code below.

“Color” is fixed for Internet explorer 11 by using Spectrum plugin

Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Type – “Color” is fixed for Internet explorer 11 by using Spectrum plugin

Full Customisation

Spectrum colorpicker plugin Full Customisation

Spectrum colorpicker plugin Full Customisation

3. Cross Browser Compatibility Issue With Form Input Type – Range

Form input type range enables users to select a numeric value inside a predefined range – no less than specified minimum value and not greater than specified max value (default range is 0 to 100). Majority of browsers render form input type range as a slider while some can also render it as a dial control. Range input type should only be used when exact value isn’t required to be too precise

Syntax

Range input type can be further enhanced by using attributes like min, max, value and step.

  • max : The highest value in the range slider
  • min : lowest value in the range slider
  • step : stepping interval by which slider moves

‘Range’ is rendered differently by different browsers

Form Input Type – ‘Range’ rendered by different browsers

Browser Support

range input type

Unlike date and color form input types, range enjoys a much wider cross browser compatibility. Internet explorer 10-11 as well as all versions of Safari browser for Mac and iOS support range input type. Only noticeable exception is Internet Explorer 9.

 “Range” is not supported in Internet Explorer 9

Form Input Type – “Range” is not supported in Internet Explorer 9

Fixing Cross Browser Compatibility Issue – rangeslider.js polyfill

To add form input type range functionality to IE9, the most pragmatic and easy to implement solution is offered by rangeslider.js, which is a lightweight javascript/jquery polyfill that provides a fully customizable range slider.

rangeslider.js polyfill

rangeslider.js polyfil

Visit rangeslider.js Github repository and download rangeslider.min.css and rangeslider.min.js files or simply use CDN links as shown below –

Range”  is fixed for Internet Explorer 9 by using range slider.js

Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Type – “Range” is fixed for Internet Explorer 9 by using range slider.js

4. Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Type – Number

Form input type number permits users to enter only a numeric value in the text field or use spinbox button controls(up and down arrows). Opera was the first browser to implement number input type. While majority of browsers provide spinbox controls IE10+ and Edge don’t. However, if the field is fed with a non-numerical value, it won’t be retained when field focus is lost.

Syntax

Number input type can be further enhanced by using attributes like min, max, placeholder, step and readonly.

<

pre><input type=”number” name=”points” min=”0″ max=”10″ placeholder=”5 step=”1″>

  • max : the highest numeric value acceptable
  • min : the lowest numeric value acceptable
  • Placeholder : display the default numeric value in the field
  • step : step control(up/down arrows) which increments or decrements the numeric value

Number input type rendered by different browsers

Form input type – ‘Numer’ rendered by different browsers

Browser Support

number input type

Just like input type range, number along with other input types such as email, tel, url are cross browser compatible features supported by IE 10-11 as well as safari. IE9 is the only major exception.
“Number” is not supported in Internet Explorer 9

Form Input Type – “Number” is not supported in Internet Explorer 9

Fixing Cross Browser Compatibility Issue – Number Polyfill

To add form input type number functionality to IE9, we can utilise number polyfill by jonstipe as also suggested by html5please. Only requirement is to add number-polyfill.js file in the head section. CSS file can be used to style the the field along with increment decrement arrows. If the script detects that a browser doesn’t support number input type, it will configure it to function as number-only input field, and add increment/decrement arrow buttons.

“Number” is fixed for Internet Explorer 9 by using Number Polyfill

Cross Browser Compatibility Issues With Form Input Type – “Number” is fixed for Internet Explorer 9 by using Number Polyfill

Conclusion

It has almost been a decade since the notion of HTML5 form features also known as Web forms 2.0 was contemplated. Majority of the new form input types are cross browser compatible, supported by all the major modern browsers, the only noticeable exceptions being Safari and Opera Mini. In near future, it is highly likely that we will witness cross browser uniformity in visual interfaces of form elements and input types and also a strong possibility that all remaining inconsistencies, especially Safari and Opera browsers will be resolved for good. The only thorn in the way of developers is IE11/IE9 that is notorious for its beleaguered support. But armed with the right javascript/jquery plugins, libraries and polyfills, web developers now have a reliable way to keep cross browser compatibility issues with form input types at bay.

Written by Nikhil Tyagi

Experienced Frontend Developer and UX Designer who specializes in HTML5, CSS3 SASS/SCSS, Bootstrap 4, Materialize, Semantic UI frameworks, Javascript, Jquery, Ajax, React JS and APIs.

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