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I'm working on a website/web service. In one of my forms the user need to enter 2 values: A and B. Then when the user clicks the submit button some info appears in a separated view next to the form.

I have additional parameter C, this parameter gets its value from A and B (as a result of some Math calculation). Once the user changing A or B then C will be updated automatically.

The user can't directly update the value of C (only by updating A and/or B).

I can't decide whether the form-control (textbox) should be in ReadOnly state or Disable state.

I have noticed that both ReadOnly and Disable provide the same outcome: The user can read the value from the textbox but can't edit it. In the case of ReadOnly the textbox element appear the same as a regular textbox, while in the case of Disabled the textbox is grayed-out so the user can understand this textbox isn't editable.

Now since both ReadOnly and Disabled provide the same behavior (with a different appearance) I don't know which to decide? What are the guidelines for selecting between ReadOnly and Disabled? When should I prefer to use the one over the other???

Native Textbox

Native Textbox: ReadOnly and Disabled

Material Design Textbox

Material Design Textbox: ReadOnly and Disabled

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I don't think that using any form control for C is the right thing here. Using a form control implies that, at some point, the user can directly change it (by clicking/tapping on it), which doesn't appear to be the case here.

To me, while C is a value based on other inputs, it could be considered merely text, and displayed as such.

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If you let the input in readOnly and not in disabled, the user will think that if he edit the value of C then the value of A and B would be changed.

If the inputs of the values A, B and C have the same style then the users would not make the difference between an editable input and a non-editable input.

Also if nothing happens when he click on the input of the C value he will probably think that it's a bug.

I think that the Disabled Textbox is the better choice because the user will know just by looking on the input that it's not editable.

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  • Everything you say makes sense, but the style of a read-only textbox was designed to look like a regular textbox (not like the disabled one), so why do we even have the read-only textbox??? – Gil Epshtain May 9 '18 at 16:32
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ReadOnly

  • This attribute indicates that the user cannot modify the value of the control. The value of the attribute is irrelevant.
  • The "readonly" attribute is ignored if the value of the type attribute is hidden, range, color, checkbox, radio, file, or a button type (such as button or submit).
  • The browser doesn't add any visual style for "readonly" elements.

Disabled

  • This attribute indicates that the form control is not available for interaction.
  • The click event will not be dispatched on disabled controls.
  • The value of the "disabled" control will not be submitted with the form.
  • Disabled form elements do not receive focus and therefore are been skipped in tab navigation.
  • Most browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, IE and more) adds some style (grayed-out) to disabled elements.

User Experience

Since both ReadOnly and Disabled attributes give the user a way to view the value of the element but don't modify it. While one of them - disabled - provide a visual feedback, the designer needs to choose whether the user can differentiate between a standard element and a non-modified element.
If you want the user to identify the element is in non-modified mode, use "disabled".
If you want a non-modified element to appear like the rest of the form elements, use "readonly".

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