Terence Eden looks into the complexity behind adding a new type of HTML input that would allow users to select a country from a list, as per a suggestion from Lea Verou. Lea suggested it could be as simple as this:
And then, voilà! An input with a list of all countries would appear in the browser. But Terence describes just how difficult making the user experience around that one tiny input could be for browser makers:
Let’s start with the big one. What is a country? This is about as contentious as it gets! It involves national identities, international politics, and hereditary relationships. Scotland, for example, is a country. That is a (fairly) uncontentious statement – and yet in drop-down lists, I rarely see it mentioned. Why? Because it is one of the four countries which make up the country of the United Kingdom – and so it is usually (but not always) subsumed into that. Some countries don’t recognize each other. Some believe that the other country is really part of their country. Some countries don’t exist.