The question is often asked, whether a form can be submitted
without using a submit button. (Here,
the term "submit button" is understood in the generic sense, to cover
BUTTON TYPE=SUBMIT: in the terminology of
HTML4.0 these are known collectively as "submit controls").
Within the scope of HTML alone, there is one case where that is
possible, and that is the submission of a pre-determined form
by means of
METHOD=GET, by preparing the appropriate
URL to represent the form submission, and using it as a normal
This item seems to cause a lot of confusion, and is
therefore discussed in detail,
Beyond that, you'd need client-side scripting: some examples are mentioned below; but since, in a WWW context, there is no guarantee that client-side scripting will be enabled, it would, as always, be advisable to avoid making web pages entirely reliant on scripting if you can. (Nothing against client-side scripting as an optional enhancement: that's different.)
No: within HTML the only way to initiate a POST is to submit a form. Form submission could be initiated via client-side scripting, subject to the usual caveat that there is no guarantee that it will be enabled, so it's advisable to design the page so that it's usable even when client-side scripting is disabled.
Another popular question is how a form submission can be triggered when an ordinary page is loaded. Quite why this is so popular isn't entirely clear, but we'll skip that part of the issue in the present discussion.
There are several ways in which one could attempt to achieve this, again based on a coded URL of the type discussed later.
The only way that can be guaranteed to work in all situations is to have the page itself generated as a result of the form submission, and to access the page by means of such a coded URL. However, that is usually not what is wanted: the questioner wants a simple URL, without any evidence of a form submission showing in the browser's URL display.
One group of methods is based on calling up other kinds of
object from the HTML page. The HTML constructs that do this
(some standard, some vendor extensions) are
IMG, EMBED, OBJECT,
IFRAME etc. Of course, the form submission script at the server
will need to return a result that consists of the expected kind
of object, as well as doing whatever it does in response to the form
submission. None of these methods
can be guaranteed to work, as some browsers do not
implement one or other of the above tags, and some browsers
can have image loading turned off as an option.
There's another look at form submission issues in detailed discussions and tutorials by J.Korpela, always a reliable contributor.
Original materials © Copyright 1994 - 2006 by A.J.Flavell