What's the connection between `input` and `datalist`, and do we need to specify `type`?

In the Learn section of this exercise it says:

The <datalist> is used with an <input type="text"> element.

It seems that the logic to this is explained as being because this:

… creates a text field that users can type into and filter options from the <datalist>.

Indeed, in the example that’s then given, the <input> element includes this type="text" attribute, along with 3 other attributes, as follows:

<label for="city">Ideal city to visit?</label>
<input type="text" list="cities" id="city" name="city">

However, in the code given in this exercise’s code editor, the type="text" attribute is excluded altogether, as follows:

<label for="sauce">What type of sauce would you like?</label>
<input list="sauces" id="sauce" name="sauce">

The code seems to give the same result with or without type="text". Is it therefore optional, or even redundant?

Use of the type attribute when creating a datalist input is made even more confusing in exercise 14 - Forms Review, where it says:

Setting type to "list" will pair the <input> with a <datalist> element.

Am I right in thinking that this is actually wrong, because type is either set to "text" or excluded altogether? i.e. it can’t have a value of "list" because list is an attribute in its own right and set to the same "value" as the <datalist>'s id attribute? This is what is suggested by the code given to us in the code editor in exercises 12, 13 and 14, as follows:

<label for="sauce">What type of sauce would you like?</label>
<input list="sauces" id="sauce" name="sauce">
<datalist id="sauces">
  <option value="ketchup"></option>
  <option value="mayo"></option>
  <option value="mustard"></option>
</datalist>
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@jon_morris, I believe that you are correct, in that what you saw in the exercise 14 review:

Setting type to "list" will pair the <input> with a <datalist> element.

…is incorrect.

I’m not there yet, I’m on exercise 11, and it clearly says:

in the code above, we have an <input> that has a list attribute. The <input> is associated to the <datalist> via the <input> 's list attribute and the id of the <datalist> .

I researched it a bit, and <list> is definitely not listed as a form <input> type per Mozilla’s documentation.

Mozilla’s docs may have also answered another of your questions (and one I was wondering too). Regarding the <input> tag’s <type> attribute:

If this attribute is not specified, the default type adopted is text .

Maybe that’s why Codecademy didn’t include it, and why it still worked - the value defaulted to ‘text’.

When I get to the exercise 14 review, I’ll submit a bug to have it checked out, if it hasn’t already been done (for the setting the type=“list” reference).

13 Likes

Thanks for this @agentgenx! That helpfully confirms what I had assumed about list being a separate <input> attribute associated with the <datalist>'s id, and not a value of type.

And very good to know about the type default being "text", as that definitely clears up the confusion over its appearance then disappearance :smiley:

I didn’t submit an error report for the exercise 14 review, as I thought it was better to raise it as a query here first. So, now we’re certain, go ahead and do that yourself when you get there :+1:

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<input list="sauces" id="sauce" name="sauce">
<datalist id="sauces">

Why is the id for the datalist “sauces” and not the stated id of “sauce”, as was the case in the previous exercises? What role does id=sauce play here?

The way I understood it is as follows:

The label is linked to the input field via the value "sauce", which is assigned to the <label>'s for attribute and the <input>'s id attribute. This is the same method used with other previous input fields.

The <datalist> is then linked to the input field via the value "sauces", which is assigned to the <datalist>'s id attribute and the <input>'s list attribute.
<input> already has an id of "sauce" and from what I understand the same id value should only be assigned to one element, so <datalist> needs a different id. Using a plural creates a different id yet still indicates the relationship (although any other word could be used).

Also, notice that with the dropdown menu we don’t have this issue as, instead of an <input> element, we have a <select> element which is wrapped around all the fixed options (and creates the actual dropdown).
<select> is linked directly to the label without any need for an input field.

With the datalist, however, we have to accomodate for both a manual ‘free-choice’ input field and a list of pre-selected prompts. We do this by using <input> and <datalist> respectively.

There may be some deeper theory here, but I’m just a beginner. This is how I rationalised it - I hope it helps :smile:

18 Likes

This was a very clear and helpful explanation! Until I get very comfortable with forms, I think I will continue to always include it.

In Microsoft Edge, it doesn’t show the text between the option tag. Only shows the value.