Issue #110  (form.submit(), jQuery Plugins, JS Utils, Media)08/27/15

Here's something a little quirky with regards to forms. As you probably know, when a form is submitted, the submit event is fired. This allows developers to use the onsubmit event handler to check when a form is submitted and temporarily intercept the submission while data is validated. The same is also true of the reset button on forms (which you should rarely, if ever, use); the reset action can be temporarily stopped using the onreset handler.

But maybe you didn't know that both these events can be mimicked using the submit() and reset() methods, respectively. Something like this:
document.querySelector('form').reset(); document.querySelector('form').submit();

In this case, the first form found on the page will be reset, and then submitted.

But what's strange about these two methods is that neither of them triggers the submit or reset events. Look at the following example code. This assumes we have a form with a submit button and then a separate unrelated button outside of the form.
var myForm = document.querySelector('form'),
    myBtn = document.querySelector('button');

myForm.addEventListener('submit', function (e) {
}, false);

myBtn.addEventListener('click', function () {
}, false);

(JS Bin demo)

Try first hitting the "SUBMIT" button in the demo. Notice the log outputs the fact that the submit event has been fired. The other button is the separate non-form element. In the code, I'm triggering the submit() method on the form when that button is clicked. Notice that the form submits (shown by the fact that the page goes blank) but the console doesn't display the "submitted" message. This is because the submit event was not fired, even though the submit() method was.

To be completely honest, I'm not 100% sure why this happens but it seems to have been in place for quite some time in old browsers so my guess is the behaviour is still present for legacy reasons. Some notes I uncovered:
  • While MDN explains it correctly, the DOM 2 spec incorrectly says that the behaviour is the same.
  • The updated WHATWG spec has a full "Form Submission Algorithm" that makes more of a distinction but it's as clear as mud in my opinion.
  • This problem has caused developers to file related bugs with the jQuery team, although one commenter seemed to say that jQuery made a correction in a later version to deal with this.
Regardless, it's good to know that there's a difference between the submit() method and the natural way that forms are submitted, in case you're considering using submit().

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