HTML5 autofill using autocomplete

Once in a while, the web development community reintroduces old ideas in a new way. Years ago, there was a concept called ECML (E-Commerce Markup Language) that added an HTML attribute to identify values in a FORM that could be auto-filled from a users “virtual wallet”. Sadly, while it was implemented on a variety of websites (mine included), it was not widely supported and disappeared.

The concept has been reintroduced as values in the ‘autocomplete’ attribute in HTML5. Traditionally this attribute was only used to prevent auto-filling of values, now it can identify which values it is related to for pre-fill.

The usual payment, address and demographic fields (and variations of each) are supported.

EXAMPLE:

^<input type="text" name="ccnum" autocomplete="cc-number" value="" />

REFERENCES:

HTML5 Link Prefetching

Link prefetching is used to identify a resource that might be required by the next navigation, and that the user agent SHOULD fetch, such that the user agent can deliver a faster response once the resource is requested in the future.


<link rel="prefetch" href="http://www.example.com/images/sprite.png" />

<link rel="prefetch" href="/images/sprite.png" />

Supported in:

  • MSIE 11+/Edge
  • Firefox 3.5+ (for HTTPS)
  • Chrome
  • Opera

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HTML5 preconnect

In addition to dns-prefetch, you can take browser performance one step further by actually creating a new connection to a resource.

By initiating an early connection, which includes the DNS lookup, TCP handshake, and optional TLS negotiation, you allow the user agent to mask the high latency costs of establishing a connection.

Supported in:

  • Firefox 39+ (Firefox 41 for crossorigin)
  • Chrome 46+
  • Opera


<link rel="preconnect" href="//example.com" />
<link rel="preconnect" href="//cdn.example.com" crossorigin />

REFERENCES:

HTML5 DNS prefetch

I often get into some fringe areas of micro-optimizations of website performance, DNS prefetching is another one of those topics.

To understand how this can help, you must first understand the underlying concepts that are used within the communications used to build your web page.

The first of these is a “DNS Lookup”, where the domain name (www.example.com) is converted into a numerical address, the IP address of the server that contains the file(s).

In many websites, content is included from other domains for performance or security purposes.

When the domain names are known in advance, this approach can save time on the connection as the lookup can fetched in advance, before it is required on the page to retrieve assets.

This can be particularly useful for users with slow connections, such as those on mobile browsers.


<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//www.example.com" />

Supported in:

  • MSIE9+ (MSIE10+ as dns-prefetch)/Edge
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Opera

REFERENCES:

HTML5 script async

The HTML5 “async” attribute simplifies page-load performance improvements and dynamic script loading, it can be useful in modern web browsers.

Simply put, this tag allows for the browser to asynchronously load and execute external javascript files in a parallel vs. serial manner. Unfortunately while most modern browser support it, MSIE versions prior to MSIE10+ are problematic.


<script src="example.js" async="async"></script>

This is particularly useful when using third-party javascript libraries and utilities that have no dependeny relationships with your existing website javascript.

REFERENCES:

HTML cleartype meta tag?

This tag allows for activation of ClearType in Mobile IE for smoothing fonts.


<!--[if IEMobile]><meta http-equiv="cleartype" content="on" /><![endif]-->

NOTE: Future use of this approach is questionable, as MSIE10 dropped support of conditional comments, and HTML5 validators (in general) do not “like” the http-equiv values as they are not standardized

REFERENCES:

HTML5 – abbr replaces acronym

I recently found another element that is no longer supported for HTML5. The <abbr> element represents an abbreviation or acronym, the <acronym> tag was dropped in HTML5 and XHTML2.

REFERENCES:

Device Fingerprinting

Often it can be beneficial to ‘more’ uniquely identify your users. For applications this is trivial, but in a web browser this can be accomplished via only a few attributes.

  • HTTP – User-Agent, IP Address, Content types and languages accepted.
  • HTTPS/SSL – the keys and encryption methods available to a specific user may vary for each client configuration.
  • HTML5 – local storage and capabilities supported.
  • Geolocation – this is included in HTML5, but also supported in many clients without full HTML5 support, or via browser extensions.
  • JavaScript – Installed version – and many DOM attributes/capabilities such as timezone, installed plugins, screen sizes and fonts from the browser can be detected.
  • Java (Applet) – Installed version – this can often be used to get additional information regarding the client system directly from the VM or Operating System itself. (* Persistent Cookies possible)
  • Flash – Installed version – this can often be used to get additional information regarding the client system directly from the Operating System itself. (* Persistent Cookies possible)
  • Silverlight (for Microsoft Windows) – – Installed version and additional information from Operating System?
  • GoogleGEARS (deprecated) – Installed version and additional information from Operating System such as Geolocation

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HTML5 speech input

Adding speech input to your webapp is much easier than it might first seem.
This is part of the proposed HTML5 enhancements to FORMS and is already implmented in some browsers.

Google Chrome (WebKit 534.24) added this in version 11 in April 2011.

XHTML compatible example:
<input type="text" x-webkit-speech="x-webkit-speech" speech="speech" value="" />

NOTE:
In this example, ‘x-webkit-speech’ is the proprietary attribute used by Google Chrome (WebKit). ‘speech’ is the expected HTML5 attribute when it is finalized.

REFERENCES:

No JavaScript support

There are still a measurable number of internet users that browse without the use of JavaScript, use the NoScript plugin, or have disabled it for security purposes. In those cases, as well as for SEO. It’s often a good idea to manipulate the display to better accomodate these users. One of the most common methods is shown below, as we can toggle a CSS class on the HTML tag easily and use CSS “cascade” to hide or show alternate content.

NOTE: this example currently requires PrototypeJS, but can easily be changed to not do so.


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html class="no-js">
<head>
<script type="text/javascript">
var ar = document.getElementsByTagName('html');
var i = ar.length;// should only be one!
while(i--){
Element.removeClassName(ar[i],'no-js');
}
</script>
<style type="text/css>
html .no-js-show { display:none; }
html.no-js .no-js-show { display:block; }
html.no-js .no-js-hide { display:none; }
</style>
</head>
<body>
JavaScript is:
<p class="no-js-hide">enabled</p>
<p class="no-js-show">JavaScript is disabled</p>
</body>
</html>