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What to Use Instead of Number Inputs

March 6th, 2020

You might reach for <input type="number> when you’re, you know, trying to collect a number in a form. But it’s got all sorts of issues. For one, sometimes what you want kinda looks like a number, but isn’t one (like how a credit card number has spaces), because it’s really just a string of numbers. Even more importantly, there are a variety of screen reader problems.

Hanna Laakso documents the problems for GOV.UK. This is what they landed on:

<input type="text" inputmode="numeric" pattern="[0-9]*">

The inputmode attribute is pretty great, and we have a deep dive on that.

Phil Nash came to (almost) same exact conclusion, and blogged about improving the experience of a two-factor auth code input on the Twilio blog:

<input
  type="text"
  name="token"
  id="token"
  inputmode="numeric"
  pattern="[0-9]*"
  autocomplete="one-time-code"
/>

That last attribute is interesting and new to me. It means you get this super extra useful experience on browsers that support it:

iOS screen with a numeric input and a text message offering to auto-fill the two-factor auth

There are other autocomplete values, as Phil writes:

There are many autocomplete values available, covering everything from names and addresses to credit cards and other account details. For sign up and login there are a few autocomplete values that stand out as useful hints: usernameemailnew-passwordcurrent-password.

Browsers and password managers have very good heuristics to find login forms on web pages, but using the username and current-password values make it very obvious.