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If you want to assign a height you will need to create another style otherwise your other form fields will have this height.
(I usually also assign font value because the textarea utilize a different type of font than the form fields)
It seems that the style attributes override rows and cols (as expected), so I would still include both to allow for graceful backward compatibility.
<textarea cols='20' rows='20' style='width:500px;height=500px;'>blah,blah,blah</textarea>
(or if you're using CSS apply the width and height via a class attribute of course)
It seems rather simple, but i don't know if i could have figured that out. At least not in such a short time.
It works excellent in IE and Mozilla. In Opera the height is the height that is needed for the text between the textarea tags. So <textarea style='width:100%;height:100%;'>some text</textarea>, would make the textarea 1 row high.
I try to find a solution for that. If i'll find I'll post it here.