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API Dependent fields

Using the [up-validate] attribute you can implement forms where the state of some fields depend on the value of other fields.

Declaring dependencies

This is a form to purchase postage for international parcels:

A form with many dependent fields

The fields in this form have many dependencies between them:

  • When the continent is changed, the country select must update to list countries from the selected continent.
  • When the country is changed, the price preview must update.
  • When the parcel weight is changed, the price preview must update.

We can implement this form with three [up-validate] attributes and no additional JavaScript:

<form method="post" action="/purchases">
    <label for="continent">Continent</label>
    <select name="continent" id="continent" up-validate="#country">...</select> <!-- mark-phrase "up-validate" -->
    <label for="country">Country</label>
    <select name="country" id="country" up-validate="#price">...</select> <!-- mark-phrase "up-validate" -->
    <label for="weight">Weight</label>
    <input name="weight" id="weight" up-validate="#price"> kg <!-- mark-phrase "up-validate" -->
    <label for="price">Price</label>
    <output id="price">23 €</output>

  <button>Buy stamps</button>

When a field is changed, Unpoly will automatically submit the form with an additional X-Up-Validate HTTP header. Upon seeing this header, the server is expected to render a new form state from the form values in the request parameters. See this example for control flow on the server.

When the server responds with the re-rendered form state, Unpoly will update the target selector from the changed field's [up-validate] attribute. For instance, when the continent is field is changed, the country field is updated.

Multiple dependent fragments

A field with [up-validate] may update multiple fragments by separating their target selectors with a comma.

For instance, when the user changes the continent, the following would update the price preview in addition to the country select:

<select name="continent" up-validate="#country, #price">

Preventing race conditions

Custom implementations of dependent fields will often exhibit race conditions, e.g. when the user is quickly changing fields while requests are still in flight.

Such issues are solved with [up-validate]. The form will eventually show a consistent state, regardless of how fast the user clicks or how slow the network is. In particular:

  • Unpoly guarantees only a single validation request is in flight concurrently (per form). Additional validations are queued until the current validation request has loaded.
  • Multiple updates from [up-validate] or up.validate() are batched into a single request with multiple targets.
  • When one of the target elements is an ancestor of another target, Unpoly will only request the ancestor.
  • If the user submits the form while validation requests are still in flight, the validation requests are aborted.

Let's walk through a challenging scenario using the postage form example above:

  • User selects a continent. A request for the country select is sent, but takes a while to load.
  • User inputs a parcel weight. Because a request is still in flight, no additional request is sent.
  • User changes continent again. While a request is still in flight, no additional request is sent.
  • The response is received. The country select is updated.
  • A request for the the country select and price preview is sent.
  • The next response is received. The price preview and country select are updated.

Once the last response is processed, all fields and the price preview show consistent values.

Disabling fields during validation

If you prefer to completely prevent user input during validation, give the form an [up-watch-disable] attribute. This will disable all form fields while validation requests are in flight:

<form method="post" action="/purchases" up-watch-disable> <!-- mark-phrase "up-watch-disable" -->

You may also assign [up-watch-disable] to individual fields, or any element that contains fields.

Also see disabling fields while working.