25 April 2009

Internet Explorer Submit Button Bug

While testing a simple form in Firefox and MSIE 7, I found that my server-side program got different values for HTML submit buttons depending on the browser. Below is a test HTML file to demonstrate the problem. Copy and paste the text below into a test file, open the file in your browser and press the Test button.

    <form method='get'>
      <button name='testSubmitButton' type='submit' value='value1'>Test</button>

Examine the URL in the address bar.

In Firefox 3.0.9 and Opera 9.52, the URL is: file:// … MsieSubmitButton.html?testSubmitButton=value1, so the value is sent from the browser with the button name.

In MSIE 6.0.2900.5512 and MSIE 7.0.6001.18000, the URL is: file:// … MsieSubmitButton.html?testSubmitButton=Test, so the text of the button is sent from the browser with the button name.

Both MSIE's behaviour doesn't conform to the HTML 4.01 recommendation on Controls:

Each control has both an initial value and a current value, both of which are character strings. … In general, a control's "initial value" may be specified with the control element's value (emphasis mine) attribute. …
The control's "current value" is first set to the initial value…

When a form is submitted for processing, some controls have their name paired with their current value and these pairs are submitted with the form. …

My workaround was to give each submit button a unique name and change the server-side program to use the button name instead of the button value. While this was adequate for my task, it was an annoying, basic problem that shouldn't still exist.

While researching this bug, I found other issues with MSIE when using submit buttons in HTML forms, so be careful!

See Also