Monday, January 26, 2015

HTML 5 Date Picker

Firefox just updated itself.

Every time Firefox updates, I stop what I am doing to see if Firefox has started supporting the new date picker functionality of the HTML 5 specifications.

A few years back, I started upgrading my sites to HTML 5.0. Since several of the sites needed a date picker. I decided to put off the upgrade until the functionality of HTML 5 was in place; So, I am really irritated that this needed function is not yet in place.

Chrome, Opera and Safari support the new date picker. Firefox is pretty the last hold out. I should say it is the last holdout that matters. I have no idea what Internet Explorer is doing.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to see if the date picker works followed by an essay on why the date picker should be implemented on the client side.


Client Side Date Picker

Dates and times are extremely important in computer systems. We use the date and time to figure out the sequence of events.

While it is easy to use timestamps to record the date of computer actions, we need an easy way to query users for events that took place outside the computer.

A date picker is not a difficult piece of code to write. For the most part it is sufficient to know that weeks are seven days long and every fourth year is a leap year.

It is easy to write a javascript date picker. The problem here is that such code needs to be tested on hundreds of devices. Ideally, it should be checked in multiple languages. This type of testing is very expensive.

After that expense, the next problems kick in. The first is that the web site needs to send the javascript to the client with each page that contains a date. The second is all the web sites need date checkers send different code. This creates a confusing experience for users.

A client side date picker will present users with one consistent date picker that can be used on multiple sites. This greatly simplifies both the life of the web user and the developer who needs only send the parameters for the date.

Anyway, I've been anxiously awaiting the inclusion of a date picker in Firefox. The main purpose of this post was to create a form with a date, week and hour field to see if the picker was implemented yet.

If Firefox does not support this feature soon, I will probably just switch to Opera or Chrome.