Peter Flanigan
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HTML::FormWidgets - Create HTML user interface components


Describes version v0.24.$Rev: 1 $ of HTML::FormWidgets


   use HTML::FormWidgets;

   my $widget = HTML::FormWidgets->new( id => 'test' );

   print $widget->render;
   # <div class="container">
   # <input value="" name="test" type="text" id="test" class="ifield" size="40">
   # </div>


Transforms a Perl data structure which defines one or more "widgets" into HTML or XHTML. Each widget is comprised of these optional components: a line or question number, a prompt string, a separator, an input field, additional field help, and Ajax field error string.

Input fields are selected by the widget type attribute. A factory subclass implements the method that generates the HTML or XHTML for that input field type. Adding more widget types is straightforward

This module is using the MooTools Javascript library to modify default browser behaviour

This module is used by CatalystX::Usul::View and as such its main use is as a form generator within a Catalyst application

Configuration and Environment

The following are passed to "build" in the config hash (they reflect this modules primary use within a Catalyst application):


Some of the widgets require image files. This attribute is used to create the URI for those images


Either application/xhtml+xml which generates XHTML 1.1 or text/html which generates HTML 4.01 and is the default


This hash ref contains the fields definitions. Static parameters for each widget can be stored in configuration files. This reduces the number of attributes that have to be passed in the call to the constructor


So that the "File" and "Table" subclasses can store the number of rows added as the hidden form attribute nRows


This is the name of the global Javascript variable that holds config object. Defaults to html_formwidgets


The path to the document root for this application


Width in pixels of the browser window. This is used to calculate the width of the field prompt. The field prompt needs to be a fixed length so that the separator colons align vertically


The path to template files used by the "Template" subclass

Sensible defaults are provided by new if any of the above are undefined


Public Methods


      HTML::FormWidgets->build( $config_hash );

The "build" method iterates over a data structure that represents the form. One or more lists of widget definitions are processed in turn. New widgets are created and their rendered output replaces their definitions in the data structure


   $widget = HTML::FormWidgets->new( [{] key1 => value1, ... [}] );

Construct a widget. Mostly this is called by the "build" method. It requires the factory subclass for the widget type.

This method takes a large number of options with each widget using only few of them. Each option is described in the factory subclasses which use that option


   $widget->add_hidden( $key, $value );

The key / value pair are added to list of hidden input elements that will be included in the page


   $widet->add_literal_js( $js_class_name, $id, $config );

The config hash will be serialised and added to the literal Javascript on the page


   $widget->add_optional_js( @filenames );

The list of Javascript filenames (with extension, without path) are added to the list of files which will be included on the page


   $widget->inflate( $args );

Creates new objects and returns their rendered output. Called by the "_render" methods in the factory subclasses to inflate embeded widget definitions


   $widget->init( $args );

Initialises this object with data from the passed arguments. This is usually overridden in the factory subclass which sets the default for it's own attributes. In the base class this method does nothing


   $bool = $widget->is_xml;

Returns true if the content type matches xml


   $message_text = $widget->loc( $message_id, @args );

Use the supplied key to return a value from the l10n object. This object was passed to the constructor and should localise the key to the required language. The @args list contains parameters to substituted in place of the placeholders which have the form [_n]


   $html = $widget->render;

Assemble the components of the generated widget. Each component is concatenated onto a scalar which is the returned value. This method calls "render_field" which should be defined in the factory subclass for this widget type.

This method uses these attributes:


If set to left the widget begins with an <br> element


If true it's value is wrapped in a <span class="lineNumber"> element and appended to the return value


If true it's value is wrapped in a <label class="prompt_class"> element and appended to the return value. The prompt class is set by the pclass attribute. The id attribute is used to set the for attribute of the <label> element. The pwidth attribute sets the width style attribute in the <label> element


If true it's value is wrapped in a <span class="separator"> element and appended to the return value


If true the value return by the "_render" method is wrapped in <span class="container"> element


The text of the field help. If tiptype is set to dagger (which is the default) then a dagger symbol is wrapped in a <span class="help tips"> and this is appended to the returned input field. The tip text is used as the title attribute. If the tiptype is not set to dagger then the help text is wrapped around the input field itself


Boolean which if true causes the field to generate server side check field requests


Adds markup for the Ajax field validation


Wraps the rendered field in a containing div


Should be overridden in the factory subclass. It should return the markup for the specified field type


Adds a label element to the generated markup


Insert a spacing element between the prompt and the field


Markup containing the step number on the form if required


Flyover tooltip field help text


Makes absolute URI from relative paths by calling the supplied function

Private Methods


   $widget->$_bootstrap( $args );

Determine the id, name and type attributes of the widget from the supplied arguments


   $widget->$_ensure_class_loaded( $class );

Once the factory subclass is known this method ensures that it is loaded and then re-blesses the self referential object into the correct class


   $widget->$_set_error( $error_text );

Stores the passed error message in the text attribute so that it gets rendered in place of the widget

Private Subroutines


   $args = $_arg_list->( @args );

Accepts either a single argument of a hash ref or a list of key/value pairs. Returns a hash ref in either case.


   $item = $_form_wrapper->( $options, $item, $stack );

Wraps the top nitems number of widgets on the build stack in a <form> element


   $item = $_group_fields->( $options, $item, $stack );

Wraps the top nitems number of widgets on the build stack in a <fieldset> element with a legend

Factory Subclasses

These are the possible values for the type attribute which defaults to textfield. Each subclass implements the "_render" method, it receives a hash ref of options an returns a scalar containing some XHTML.

The distribution ships with the following factory subclasses:


Returns an <anchor> element with a class set from the class argument (which defaults to linkFade). It's href attribute set to the href argument. The anchor body is set to the text argument


Returns a <div> element with a class set from the class argument (which defaults to server). The div body is set to the text argument. When the JavaScript onload event handler fires it will asynchronously load the content of the div if it is visible


Generates an image button where name identifies the image file in assets and is also used as the return value. The button name is set to _verb. If the image file does not exist a regular input button is rendered instead


Return a <checkbox> element of value value. Use the element's value as key to the labels hash. The hash value (which defaults null) is used as the displayed label. The checked argument determines the checkbox's initial setting


Creates a popup window which allows one item to be selected from a long list of items


Creates list of links from the data set supplied in the data argument


Return another <textfield>, this time with a calendar icon which when clicked pops up a Javascript date picker. Requires the appropriate JavaScript library to have been loaded by the page. Attribute width controls the size of the <textfield> (default 10 characters) and format defaults to dd/mm/yyyy. Setting the readonly attribute to true (which is the default) causes the input <textfield> to become read only


Display the contents of a file pointed to by path. Supports the following subtypes:


Return a table containing the CSV formatted file. This and the file subtype are selectable if select >= 0 and represents the column number of the key field


Default subtype. Like the logfile subtype but without the <pre> tags


The "_render" method returns an <iframe> element whose src attribute is set to path. Paths that do not begin with http: will passed to "uri_for"


The "_render" method returns a table where each line of the logfile appears as a separate row containing one cell. The logfile lines are each wrapped in <pre> tags


The module Syntax::Highlight::Perl is used to provide colour highlights for the Perl source code. Tabs are expanded to tabstop spaces and the result is returned wrapped in <pre> tags


New values entered into a text field can be added to the list. Existing list values (passed in values) can be removed. The height of the list is set by height.


Displays two lists which allow for membership of a group. The first scrolling list contains "all" values (all), the second contains those values currently selected (current). The height of the scrolling lists is set by height


Generates a hidden input field. Uses the default attribute as the value


Generates an image tag. The text attribute contains the source URI. The fhelp attribute contains the alt text and the tiptype attribute is defaulted to normal (wraps the image in a span with a JavaScript tooltip)


Calls "loc" with the text attribute if set otherwise returns nothing. If dropcap is true the first character of the text is wrapped in a <span class="dropcap">. Wraps the text in a span of class class which defaults to label_text


Generates an ordered and unordered lists of items. Set the ordered attribute to true for an ordered list. Defaults to false

Generates an unordered list of links. Used with some applied CSS to implement a navigation menu


Calls "localize" with the name attribute as the message key. If the message does not exist the value if the text attribute is used. The text is wrapped in a c<< <span class="note"> >> with width setting the style width


Uses Pod::Html to render the POD in the given module as HTML


Newspaper like paragraphs rendered in a given number of columns, each approximately the same length. Defines these attributes;


CSS class name of the <span> wrapped around each column. Defaults to null


Number of columns to render the paragraphs in. Defaults to 1


Paragraphs of text. A hash ref whose values attribute is an array ref. The values of that array are the hash refs that define each paragraph. The keys of the paragraph hash ref are class, heading, and text.


Each paragraph can have a heading. This is the class of the <div> that wraps the heading text. Defaults to null


Maximum width of all paragraphs expressed as a percentage. Defaults to 90


Paragraph leading. This value is in characters. It is added to the size of each paragraph to account for the leading applied by the CSS to each paragraph. If a paragraph is split, then the first part must by greater than twice this value or the widows and orphans trap will reap it


Returns a password field of width width which defaults to twenty characters. If subtype equals verify then the message vPasswordPrompt and another password field are appended. The fields id and name are expected to contain the digit 1 which will be substituted for the digit 2 in the attributes of the second field


Returns a list of <option> elements wrapped in a <select> element. The list of options is passed in values with the display labels in labels. The onchange event handler will be set to the onchange attribute value


The attribute columns sets the number of columns for the returned table of radio buttons. The list of button values is passed in values with the display labels in labels. The onchange event handler will be set to onchange


Generates a horizontal rule with optional clickable action


Implements clickable navigation markers that scroll the page to given location. Returns an unordered list of class class which defaults to pintray. This is the default selector class for the JavaScript ScrollPins object


The height attribute controls the number of options the scrolling list displays. The list of options is passed in values with the display labels in labels. The onchange event handler will be set to onchange


Generates the markup for a sidebar accordion panel (a "header" div and a "body" div). The panel contents are requested asynchronously by the browser. The "SidebarPanel" widget defines these attributes:


A hash ref whose keys and values are written out as literal JavaScript by "add_literal_js"

A hash that provides the id, class, and text for header div


A hash that provides the id and class for body div


Implements a dragable slider which returns an integer value. The "Slider" widget defines these attributes:


Boolean which if true causes the widget to display a read only text field containing the sliders current value. If false a <hidden >> element is generated instead. Defaults to 1


Name of the Javascript instance variable. This will need setting to a unique value for each slider on the same form. Defaults to behaviour.sliderElement


If the display attribute is false the current value is pushed onto this array. Defaults to []


Which orientation to render in. Defaults to horizontal


Sets the minimum value for the slider. Defaults to 0


The range is either the offset plus the number of steps or the two values of this array if it is set. Defaults to false


Snap to the nearest step value? Defaults to 1


Sets the number of steps. Defaults to 100


Use the mouse wheel? Defaults to 1


A list of divs is constructed that can be styled to display only one at a time. Clicking the tab header displays the corresponding div


The input data is in $data->{values} which is an array ref for which each element is an array ref containing the list of field values.


Returns markup for a table row. Used to generate responses for the LiveGrid JavaScript class


Look in templatedir for a Template::Toolkit template called id with a .tt extension. Slurp it in and return it as the content for this widget. This provides for a "user defined" widget type


A text area. It defaults to five lines high (height) and sixty characters wide (width)


This is the default widget type. Your basic text field which defaults to sixty characters wide (width)


Implements an expanding tree of selectable objects





Included in the distribution are the Javascript files whose methods are called by the event handlers associated with these widgets


   HTML Parser By John Resig (
   Original code by Erik Arvidsson, Mozilla Public License

Used to reimplement innerHTML assignments from XHTML


   Mootools - My Object Oriented javascript.
   License: MIT-style license.

This is the main JavaScript library used with this package


Replaces Mootools' setHTML method with one that uses the HTML parser. The included copy has a few hacks that improve the Accordion widget


   Copyright Mihai Bazon, 2002-2005  |
   The DHTML Calendar, version 1.0   |
   License: GNU Lesser General Public License

Implements the calendar popup used by the ::Date subclass


Is included from the App::Munchies default skin. It uses the MooTools library to implement the server side field validation

Also included in the images subdirectory of the distribution are example PNG files used by some of the widgets.


There are no known incompatibilities in this module.

Bugs and Limitations

The installation script does nothing with the Javascript or PNG files which are included in the distribution for completeness

There are no known bugs in this module. Please report problems to Patches are welcome


Peter Flanigan, <>

License and Copyright

Copyright (c) 2015 Peter Flanigan. All rights reserved

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself. See perlartistic

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE