Closed Bug 843284 Opened 11 years ago Closed 7 years ago

placeholder should disappear when text input is clicked on platforms where that is expected


(Core :: DOM: Core & HTML, defect)

19 Branch
Not set



Tracking Status
firefox19 - ---


(Reporter: karlt, Unassigned)



+++ This bug was initially created as a clone of Bug #758996 +++

On some operating systems, text input placeholders usually disappear when the placeholder is clicked.  This is the situation on WINNT (including Win 7) and GTK.

Our placeholders should behave similarly, so that users don't think the text input is unresponsive.

This bug is not about hiding the placeholder when the input has focus.
Note that on Win 7, the behaviour of OS placeholders in inputs receiving focus
depends on whether the input has initial focus or not.  Inputs with initial
focus, such as "Search programs and files" and "Search control panel", show
the placeholder on focus, even when focus has been lost and restored again.
Inputs without initial focus, such as "Search computer", hide the placeholder
on focus.

Even initial-focus inputs hide the placeholder on click.
IE10 was released 25.04.2013, and placeholder in IE has it's old good behavior. 
And it is intentionally on both Win 7 and Win 8 systems. (My beloved Win XP doesn't have IE10, but it's the same).
Microsoft spec
clearly says "Placeholder text is visible until focus is placed in the element".
I still think that IE10 didn't go the best way. I still this this bug should follow. Probably Ms with IE10 just didn't think about this or didn't want to take the extra work to implement it this way.
I don't see a reason why we wouldn't do it. FF is not IE10. Sometimes other browsers give good ideas that FF can use but, other times, it is the opposite (IMO).
Like said above "This bug is not about hiding the placeholder when the input has focus". This bug for doing that on platforms (WIN & GTK) where it's expected.
By the way there are Pros and cons of the new behavior placeholder

- The user can not distinguish placeholder and preset value. Color placeholder - is inherited directly from the input. Therefore, if you change the text color for the input color the value and the placeholder will looks the same. By default in some browsers the placeholder has lighter color, but you can not always make it lighter, because when background color is different the best way is to use the color specified by the user for input.
- The user is not sure if he clicks in the input field. What's particularly hard to tell on touch devices. (The whole interface feel lagging or broken).
- The user can try to delete the text in the box - and it will not work by the delete key or a backspace.

+ The user knows what a placeholder is used in the input field, even clicking on it (but before you start typing). In my opinion this is a dubious advantage only if the user clicks occurred after sclerosis, and he actually forgot what was in the box. Although many prominent people do not want to focus on "smart enough" users, I believe that the common behavior of the user - is to look where he pokes his arm. For users who do not watch where they poke - a priori not possible to make high-quality interface.
+ The user knows what a placeholder is used if the input field has auto focus (example It is also very doubtful advantage. As for usability guidelines - placeholder certainly be used to describe the input field, but should not be used as the sole explanation. As in the case with a bunch of username / password - autofocus on the login field (hiding a hint that the first field login) - may be obvious to people who are used on sites that authorization through the fields username / password as well as totally obvious to people who have already used this form of input. In general, auto-focus - and this is the only rare case where there is no hiding the help text somehow justified.

As usabilist I am very concerned by this problem. For me it's intuitive way to hide placeholder on focus. You can judge youself. 
In Russia we say "The best is enemy of the good". This means that the old placeholder behavior is good enough for most of users, it IS intuitive. The tries to implement it in the best possible way is reason that many of users feel not comfortable. You must think, are the tries to implement the best way are safe and consistent. 
The reasons above is exactly the same reasons why Gnome opposed on new behavior. I bet Microsoft has enough resources and enough UX designers to think about placeholders, but they keep old behavior. 
Microsoft has moved to this behavior in Edge (although not across the OS).

We have a preference to turn it on for users that want it:


I think this ship has sailed.
Closed: 7 years ago
Resolution: --- → WONTFIX
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