parsing complex user inputs

Discussion in 'Javascript' started by Sven Neuberg, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. Sven Neuberg

    Sven Neuberg Guest

    Hi,

    I have been handed the task of updating and maintaining a web
    application, written in ASP and Javascript, that takes complex
    user inputs in HTML form and submits them to server-side ASP
    pages for processing. The problem is, the user inputs can
    become very complex, and the way this application was developed,
    the inputs are all concatenated into monstrously long strings
    of text that are then submited as <hidden> inputs in HTML forms
    and parsed by the server-side ASP. This results in hideous strings
    that go on and on like
    johnsmith~1232^01^Yes^no~~|43|april

    etc. etc. This code is an incredible pain to maintain and update.
    There has got to be a better way to do this. I am required to
    use javascript and vbscript in ASP pages on the client side,
    and ASP pages for processing data on the server side. I can't
    switch to a different technology, or use .NET, or anything like
    that. I have to use JS and VBScript to get intricate and lengthy
    user inputs and submit them for processing. I would like to
    store these inputs in objects somehow and then get the data
    from those objects, if possible.

    If anyone could suggest a better method for doing all of this
    in javascript, even just to point me in the right direction, I would
    greatly appreciate it.

    sven
     
    Sven Neuberg, Oct 25, 2004
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. Sven Neuberg

    McKirahan Guest

    "Sven Neuberg" <> wrote in message
    news:kHafd.6882$...
    >
    > Hi,
    >
    > I have been handed the task of updating and maintaining a web
    > application, written in ASP and Javascript, that takes complex
    > user inputs in HTML form and submits them to server-side ASP
    > pages for processing. The problem is, the user inputs can
    > become very complex, and the way this application was developed,
    > the inputs are all concatenated into monstrously long strings
    > of text that are then submited as <hidden> inputs in HTML forms
    > and parsed by the server-side ASP. This results in hideous strings
    > that go on and on like
    > johnsmith~1232^01^Yes^no~~|43|april
    >
    > etc. etc. This code is an incredible pain to maintain and update.
    > There has got to be a better way to do this. I am required to
    > use javascript and vbscript in ASP pages on the client side,
    > and ASP pages for processing data on the server side. I can't
    > switch to a different technology, or use .NET, or anything like
    > that. I have to use JS and VBScript to get intricate and lengthy
    > user inputs and submit them for processing. I would like to
    > store these inputs in objects somehow and then get the data
    > from those objects, if possible.
    >
    > If anyone could suggest a better method for doing all of this
    > in javascript, even just to point me in the right direction, I would
    > greatly appreciate it.
    >
    > sven
    >


    It sounds like the user fills in numerous fields and, on form submission,
    the data is concatenated into a single (hidden) field for passing to the
    server where it is parsed (perhaps using "Split()"), validated, and
    processed.

    One option is remove the concatenation+parsing and just refer to each file
    via "Request.Form("fieldname") on the server.

    Is any validation done on the client-side?

    Is any manipulation done on the client-side?
     
    McKirahan, Oct 25, 2004
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Sven Neuberg

    Grant Wagner Guest

    Sven Neuberg wrote:

    > Hi,
    >
    > I have been handed the task of updating and maintaining a web
    > application, written in ASP and Javascript, that takes complex
    > user inputs in HTML form and submits them to server-side ASP
    > pages for processing. The problem is, the user inputs can
    > become very complex, and the way this application was developed,
    > the inputs are all concatenated into monstrously long strings
    > of text that are then submited as <hidden> inputs in HTML forms
    > and parsed by the server-side ASP. This results in hideous strings
    > that go on and on like
    > johnsmith~1232^01^Yes^no~~|43|april
    >
    > etc. etc. This code is an incredible pain to maintain and update.
    > There has got to be a better way to do this. I am required to
    > use javascript and vbscript in ASP pages on the client side,
    > and ASP pages for processing data on the server side. I can't
    > switch to a different technology, or use .NET, or anything like
    > that. I have to use JS and VBScript to get intricate and lengthy
    > user inputs and submit them for processing. I would like to
    > store these inputs in objects somehow and then get the data
    > from those objects, if possible.


    Everyone would like to be able to serialize client-side JavaScript
    objects and send them to the server, unfortunately HTTP doesn't work
    that way. To get the data to the server, you have to make an HTTP
    request (usually GET or POST). The only thing you can send to the server
    with a GET or POST are HTTP headers (which client-side JavaScript has no
    access to without using the XML HTTP Request object) and the URL itself.

    So at some point, you need to turn your complex data structure into
    delimited text, or text attached to multiple attributes, or something,
    to get it to the server.

    The XML HTTP Request object does not change this, except it gives you
    the ability to send custom HTTP headers and POST data without a <form>.

    > If anyone could suggest a better method for doing all of this
    > in javascript, even just to point me in the right direction, I would
    > greatly appreciate it.


    If you are trying to move complex client-side data structures to the
    server, the only way to do it is to "serialize" it by doing what the
    previous author of the site you must maintain has done, and then
    reconstruct the data structure on the server from the "serialized" data
    (delimited strings).

    --
    Grant Wagner <>
    comp.lang.javascript FAQ - http://jibbering.com/faq
     
    Grant Wagner, Oct 25, 2004
    #3
  4. On Mon, 25 Oct 2004 21:15:57 GMT, in comp.lang.javascript you wrote:

    >Sven Neuberg wrote:
    >
    >Everyone would like to be able to serialize client-side JavaScript
    >objects and send them to the server, unfortunately HTTP doesn't work
    >that way. To get the data to the server, you have to make an HTTP
    >request (usually GET or POST). The only thing you can send to the server
    >with a GET or POST are HTTP headers (which client-side JavaScript has no
    >access to without using the XML HTTP Request object) and the URL itself.


    What about using WDDX to ease the parsing woes?

    Jamie
     
    Jamie Jackson, Oct 25, 2004
    #4
  5. Sven Neuberg

    Sven Neuberg Guest

    "McKirahan" <> wrote in message
    news:4Zcfd.304707$MQ5.33947@attbi_s52...
    >
    > It sounds like the user fills in numerous fields and, on form submission,
    > the data is concatenated into a single (hidden) field for passing to the
    > server where it is parsed (perhaps using "Split()"), validated, and
    > processed.
    >


    Yes, and not only that, there could be a dozen "sets" of this information,
    all in one very long hidden field.


    > One option is remove the concatenation+parsing and just refer to each file
    > via "Request.Form("fieldname") on the server.
    >


    I'm not sure what you mean, sorry.


    > Is any validation done on the client-side?
    >


    Yes, quite a bit.


    > Is any manipulation done on the client-side?
    >


    Yes, because the user may choose to go back and edit some of the
    fields, so there is quite a bit of parsing of the strings going on.

    thank you,

    sven
     
    Sven Neuberg, Oct 25, 2004
    #5
  6. Sven Neuberg

    Sven Neuberg Guest

    "Jamie Jackson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    >
    > What about using WDDX to ease the parsing woes?
    >
    > Jamie



    I have never heard of it, but now I am looking at www.openwddx.org to
    see if it will help. Thank you for the suggestion.

    sven
     
    Sven Neuberg, Oct 25, 2004
    #6
  7. Sven Neuberg

    Joakim Braun Guest

    "Sven Neuberg" <> skrev i meddelandet
    news:kHafd.6882$...
    >
    > Hi,
    >
    > I have been handed the task of updating and maintaining a web
    > application, written in ASP and Javascript, that takes complex
    > user inputs in HTML form and submits them to server-side ASP
    > pages for processing. The problem is, the user inputs can
    > become very complex, and the way this application was developed,
    > the inputs are all concatenated into monstrously long strings
    > of text that are then submited as <hidden> inputs in HTML forms
    > and parsed by the server-side ASP. This results in hideous strings
    > that go on and on like
    > johnsmith~1232^01^Yes^no~~|43|april


    <snip>

    What happens if a user inputs one of the delimiting characters ("Joh|n
    Smi~th")?

    That problem is solved if you write Javascript to serialize/unserialize
    arrays, and the same code in your server-side language.

    For instance, say you collect form values into an array like:
    var theThing = new Array("johnsmith", "Yes", 1232);

    You could convert this into something like:
    Array{key sz:1{0} string sz:9{johnsmith} key sz:1{1} string sz:3{Yes} key
    sz:1{2} int sz:4{1232}}

    You post it to the server, which reconstitutes the array. This would work
    regardless of the input values and it's a bit easier to maintain.

    Joakim Braun
     
    Joakim Braun, Oct 26, 2004
    #7
  8. Sven Neuberg

    Grant Wagner Guest

    Joakim Braun wrote:

    > "Sven Neuberg" <> skrev i meddelandet
    > news:kHafd.6882$...
    > >
    > > Hi,
    > >
    > > I have been handed the task of updating and maintaining a web
    > > application, written in ASP and Javascript, that takes complex
    > > user inputs in HTML form and submits them to server-side ASP
    > > pages for processing. The problem is, the user inputs can
    > > become very complex, and the way this application was developed,
    > > the inputs are all concatenated into monstrously long strings
    > > of text that are then submited as <hidden> inputs in HTML forms
    > > and parsed by the server-side ASP. This results in hideous strings
    > > that go on and on like
    > > johnsmith~1232^01^Yes^no~~|43|april

    >
    > <snip>
    >
    > What happens if a user inputs one of the delimiting characters ("Joh|n
    > Smi~th")?
    >
    > That problem is solved if you write Javascript to serialize/unserialize
    > arrays, and the same code in your server-side language.
    >
    > For instance, say you collect form values into an array like:
    > var theThing = new Array("johnsmith", "Yes", 1232);
    >
    > You could convert this into something like:
    > Array{key sz:1{0} string sz:9{johnsmith} key sz:1{1} string sz:3{Yes} key
    > sz:1{2} int sz:4{1232}}
    >
    > You post it to the server, which reconstitutes the array. This would work
    > regardless of the input values and it's a bit easier to maintain.
    >
    > Joakim Braun


    One last note about this, the Object#toSource() method is well-suited to the
    task of serializing your object. Try the following code in any Gecko-based
    browser (Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape 7+):

    var o = new Object();
    o.a = 1;
    o.b = '2';
    o.c = new Object();
    o.c.d = 3;
    o.c.e = '4';
    alert(o.toSource());

    Unfortunately, toSource() isn't supported in IE. :(

    --
    Grant Wagner <>
    comp.lang.javascript FAQ - http://jibbering.com/faq
     
    Grant Wagner, Oct 26, 2004
    #8
  9. Sven Neuberg

    Sven Neuberg Guest

    "Joakim Braun" <> wrote in message
    news:zkpfd.9001$...
    >
    >
    > For instance, say you collect form values into an array like:
    > var theThing = new Array("johnsmith", "Yes", 1232);
    >
    > You could convert this into something like:
    > Array{key sz:1{0} string sz:9{johnsmith} key sz:1{1} string sz:3{Yes} key
    > sz:1{2} int sz:4{1232}}
    >
    > You post it to the server, which reconstitutes the array. This would work
    > regardless of the input values and it's a bit easier to maintain.
    >



    Thank you! I am going to look into this. It looks like it could be very
    helpful.

    sven
     
    Sven Neuberg, Oct 26, 2004
    #9
  10. Sven Neuberg

    Sven Neuberg Guest

    "Grant Wagner" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >
    >
    > Unfortunately, toSource() isn't supported in IE. :(
    >


    Unfortunately, IE is our target browser, and it is a decision that is
    out of my control. :(

    sven
     
    Sven Neuberg, Oct 26, 2004
    #10
  11. Sven Neuberg

    Joakim Braun Guest

    "Sven Neuberg" <> skrev i meddelandet
    news:86xfd.19339$...
    >
    > "Joakim Braun" <> wrote in message
    > news:zkpfd.9001$...
    > >
    > >
    > > For instance, say you collect form values into an array like:
    > > var theThing = new Array("johnsmith", "Yes", 1232);
    > >
    > > You could convert this into something like:
    > > Array{key sz:1{0} string sz:9{johnsmith} key sz:1{1} string sz:3{Yes}

    key
    > > sz:1{2} int sz:4{1232}}
    > >
    > > You post it to the server, which reconstitutes the array. This would

    work
    > > regardless of the input values and it's a bit easier to maintain.
    > >

    >
    >
    > Thank you! I am going to look into this. It looks like it could be very
    > helpful.


    Below is my own code which works for my needs. It turns arrays (which may
    contain other arrays as well as strings, booleans and numbers) into strings
    and back. Array keys are preserved. There are probably better/more
    efficient/more compact ways to do this. Note that strings are escaped,
    you'll have to unescape them server-side.

    Joakim Braun

    ***

    function serializeArray(inArray){

    var theResult = "";
    var arrayConstructor = new Array().constructor.toString();
    var thing = true;

    for(var i in inArray){

    var theType = typeof(inArray);
    var key = escape(i.toString());

    theResult += "key sz:" + key.length + "{" + key + "}";

    if(inArray && inArray.constructor &&
    inArray.constructor.toString() == arrayConstructor){

    var arrData = serializeArray(inArray);
    theResult += "Array sz:" + arrData.length + "{" + arrData + "}";

    }
    else{
    var str = escape(inArray.toString());
    theResult += theType + " sz:" + str.length + "{" + str + "}";
    }
    }
    return theResult;

    }


    function unserializeArray(inString){

    var theResult = new Array();
    var theKey = "";

    // Note that arrays with zero entries will come in as "Array sz:0{}".
    // The recursion will then be called with "zero string",
    // which is why we check for inString.length
    while(true && inString.length > 0){

    var nextLeftBracketIndex = inString.indexOf("{", 0);
    var theType = inString.substr(0, inString.indexOf(" ", 0));
    var sizeOffset = inString.indexOf("sz:", 0) + 3;
    var dataSize = parseInt(inString.substr(sizeOffset, nextLeftBracketIndex -
    sizeOffset));
    var theData = inString.substr(nextLeftBracketIndex + 1, dataSize);

    // This will save legacy arrays
    if(theKey == "")
    theKey = theResult.length;

    if(theType == "key"){

    if(!isNaN(theData)){
    theKey = parseInt(theData);
    }
    else if(theData.length > 0){
    theKey = unescape(theData);
    }
    }
    else if(theType == "number"){

    theResult[theKey] = parseFloat(theData);
    theKey = "";
    }
    else if(theType == "string"){

    theResult[theKey] = unescape(theData);
    theKey = "";
    }
    else if(theType == "boolean" ){

    var val = new Boolean(theData);
    theResult[theKey] = val == true ? true : false;
    theKey = "";
    }
    else if(theType == "Array"){

    // Recurse
    theResult[theKey] = unserializeArray(theData);
    theKey = "";
    }
    else{

    prompt("Unknown object: " + theType + "\ninString: " + inString,
    inString);
    }

    nextLeftBracketIndex = nextLeftBracketIndex + 2 + dataSize;

    if(inString.length - nextLeftBracketIndex > 0){
    inString = inString.substr(nextLeftBracketIndex, inString.length -
    nextLeftBracketIndex);
    }
    else
    break;
    }

    return theResult;

    }
     
    Joakim Braun, Oct 26, 2004
    #11
  12. On Mon, 25 Oct 2004 21:42:59 GMT, "Sven Neuberg"
    <> wrote:

    >
    >"Jamie Jackson" <> wrote in message
    >news:...
    >>
    >>
    >> What about using WDDX to ease the parsing woes?
    >>
    >> Jamie

    >
    >
    >I have never heard of it, but now I am looking at www.openwddx.org to
    >see if it will help. Thank you for the suggestion.


    When I look at that site, it's not immediately apparent what it's all
    about.

    Here's what I understand WDDX to be:
    Each language has a couple of API functions (already) written for it:
    Something like JSToWDDX and WDDXToJS for JavasScript and maybe
    VBToWDDX and WDDXToVB for VB. It allows for easy serialization and
    de-serialization of variables. Behind the scenes WDDX is a particular
    type of XML, but you aren't exposed to those complexities, since you
    use the simple API methods to create/consume the WDDX.

    I'm no expert, so apologies if you find that I'm incorrect. I have,
    however, used WDDX to serialize and de-serialize ColdFusion objects
    within ColdFusion. I just have never taken advantage of the main
    benefit -- cross-language, complex variable communication.

    Thanks,
    Jamie
     
    Jamie Jackson, Oct 26, 2004
    #12
    1. Advertising

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.
Similar Threads
  1. zyaam
    Replies:
    2
    Views:
    358
    Steve C. Orr [MVP, MCSD]
    Dec 29, 2004
  2. news.amnet.net.au
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    588
    =?UTF-8?b?TMSByrtpZSBUZWNoaWU=?=
    Apr 13, 2004
  3. Stanimir Stamenkov
    Replies:
    2
    Views:
    764
    Stanimir Stamenkov
    Oct 25, 2005
  4. jeff regoord
    Replies:
    10
    Views:
    621
    Irrwahn Grausewitz
    Sep 13, 2003
  5. Sam
    Replies:
    2
    Views:
    140
Loading...

Share This Page