Tags: layout

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Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The benefits of learning how to code layouts with CSS | Jen Simmons

A really inspiring post by Jen outlining all the benefits of the new CSS layout features …and the problems with thinking framework-first.

I know a lot of people will think the “best” way to use CSS Grid will be to download the new version of Bootstrap (version 5! now with Grid!), or to use any one of a number of CSS Grid layout frameworks that people are inevitably going to make later this year (despite Rachel Andrew and I begging everyone not to). But I don’t. The more I use CSS Grid, the more convinced I am that there is no benefit to be had by adding a layer of abstraction over it. CSS Grid is the layout framework. Baked right into the browser.

On container queries. — Ethan Marcotte

Unsurprisingly, I completely and utterly agree with Ethan’s assessment here:

I’ve written some code that’s saying, “Once the screen is this size and the element appears in a different, smaller container, use a narrower layout on this element.”

But, well, that’s weird. Why can’t we apply styles based on the space available to the module we’re designing, rather than looking at the shape of the viewport?

I also share his frustration with the “math is hard; let’s go shopping” response from browser vendors:

There’s an incredible clamor for container queries, with folks from every corner of the responsive community asking for something that solves this problem. So personally, I’d love to see at least one browser vendor partner with the RICG, and get properly fired up about this.

We had to drag browser makers kicking and screaming to responsive images (to this day, Hixie maintains it’s not a problem that needs solving) and I suspect even more activism is going to be needed to get them to tackle container queries.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The Unexpected Power of Viewport Units in CSS | Lullabot

A nice rundown of some of the fun you can have with viewport units.

I’m very glad the problems with vh units I wrote about a little while back is getting fixed in Chrome for mobile.

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

CSS Grid. One layout method not the only layout method

Grid is only a replacement for float-based layout, where float-based layout it being used to try and create a two-dimensional grid. If you want to wrap text around an image, I’d suggest floating it.

Grid is only a replacement for flexbox if you have been trying to make flexbox into a two-dimensional grid. If you want to take a bunch of items and space them out evenly in a single row, use flexbox.

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Browser Support for evergreen websites

Oh, how I wished everyone approached building for the web the way that Rachel does. Smart, sensible, pragmatic, and exciting!

Monday, January 9th, 2017

The Futures of Typography

A wonderfully thoughtful piece from Robin, ranging from the printing technologies of the 15th century right up to the latest web technologies. It’s got all my favourite things in there: typography, digital preservation, and service workers. Marvellous!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Vertical limit

When I was first styling Resilient Web Design, I made heavy use of vh units. The vertical spacing between elements—headings, paragraphs, images—was all proportional to the overall viewport height. It looked great!

Then I tested it on real devices.

Here’s the problem: when a page loads up in a mobile browser—like, say, Chrome on an Android device—the URL bar is at the top of the screen. The height of that piece of the browser interface isn’t taken into account for the viewport height. That makes sense: the viewport height is the amount of screen real estate available for the content. The content doesn’t extend into the URL bar, therefore the height of the URL bar shouldn’t be part of the viewport height.

But then if you start scrolling down, the URL bar scrolls away off the top of the screen. So now it’s behaving as though it is part of the content rather than part of the browser interface. At this point, the value of the viewport height changes: now it’s the previous value plus the height of the URL bar that was previously there but which has now disappeared.

I totally understand why the URL bar is squirrelled away once the user starts scrolling—it frees up some valuable vertical space. But because that necessarily means recalculating the viewport height, it effectively makes the vh unit in CSS very, very limited in scope.

In my initial implementation of Resilient Web Design, the one where I was styling almost everything with vh, the site was unusable. Every time you started scrolling, things would jump around. I had to go back to the drawing board and remove almost all instances of vh from the styles.

I’ve left it in for one use case and I think it’s the most common use of vh: making an element take up exactly the height of the viewport. The front page of the web book uses min-height: 100vh for the title.

Scrolling.

But as soon as you scroll down from there, that element changes height. The content below it suddenly moves.

Let’s say the overall height of the browser window is 600 pixels, of which 50 pixels are taken up by the URL bar. When the page loads, 100vh is 550 pixels. But as soon as you scroll down and the URL bar floats away, the value of 100vh becomes 600 pixels.

(This also causes problems if you’re using vertical media queries. If you choose the wrong vertical breakpoint, then the media query won’t kick in when the page loads but will kick in once the user starts scrolling …or vice-versa.)

There’s a mixed message here. On the one hand, the browser is declaring that the URL bar is part of its interface; that the space is off-limits for content. But then, once scrolling starts, that is invalidated. Now the URL bar is behaving as though it is part of the content scrolling off the top of the viewport.

The result of this messiness is that the vh unit is practically useless for real-world situations with real-world devices. It works great for desktop browsers if you’re grabbing the browser window and resizing, but that’s not exactly a common scenario for anyone other than web developers.

I’m sure there’s a way of solving it with JavaScript but that feels like using an atomic bomb to crack a walnut—the whole point of having this in CSS is that we don’t need to use JavaScript for something related to styling.

It’s such a shame. A piece of CSS that’s great in theory, and is really well supported, just falls apart where it matters most.

Update: There’s a two-year old bug report on this for Chrome, and it looks like it might actually get fixed in February.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Eric’s Archived Thoughts: CSS Grid!

Eric is excited about the imminent arrival of grid layout in browsers. And after reading the answers to these sure-to-be-frequently asked questions, you’ll be excited too!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

CSS Grid, Flexbox And Box Alignment: Our New System For Web Layout – Smashing Magazine

Rachel provides an in-depth comparison between flexbox and grid layout: what they have in common, and what their respective strengths are.

Don’t forget to enable the experiment web features flag in your browser if you want to see the examples in action.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Part 3: We might not need quantity queries thanks to Flexbox | Charlotte Jackson, Front-end developer

I love the way that Charlotte is documenting her learning process. In this third part of the quantity queries + flexbox saga, it turns out that flexbox is capable of doing the magic all by itself!

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Quantity queries and Flexbox part 2 | Charlotte Jackson, Front-end developer

This is so great! Charlotte takes two previous ideas she’s been writing about (quantity queries and flexbox) and puts them together in a new way.

It took me a while to get around what the nth-child selectors are doing here, but Charlotte does such great job of explaining the CSS that even I could understand it.

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Heydon/fukol-grids

The most minimal responsive, flexible grid library you can find. In fact, here’s the whole thing:

.fukol-grid {
  display: flex; /* 1 */
  flex-wrap: wrap; /* 2 */
  margin: -0.5em; /* 5 (edit me!) */
}

.fukol-grid > * {
  flex: 1 0 5em; /* 3 (edit me!) */
  margin: 0.5em; /* 4 (edit me!) */
}

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Grid layout is a much needed step-change for CSS | Matt Hinchliffe, Front-End Developer

This is not only a really good explanation of CSS grid layout, it’s also a practical walkthrough, recreating the layout of the Financial Times. I think if I followed along at home, writing the markup and CSS outlined here, it would me to get this stuff “clicking” in my brain.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

6 web layout myths busted | Creative Bloq

Jen tackles six aspects of web design that were true …but no longer.

  1. Everything must be a floating bar of soap
  2. Rectangles; only rectangles
  3. We can’t control the fold
  4. 12 columns is best
  5. We have to use a layout framework
  6. We are stuck in a rut because of RWD

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Proposal to CSSWG, Sept 2016 // Speaker Deck

Jen has some ideas for a new CSS Region spec to turbo-boost Grid. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, but in the meantime, if you have feedback on this, please let her know.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

The web is not print and other stories

Rachel takes a look back at twenty years of building on the web. Her conclusion: we’ve internalised constraints that are no longer relevant, and that’s holding us back from exploring new design possibilities:

Somehow the tables have turned. As the web moves on, as we get CSS that gives us the ability to implement designs impossible a few years ago, the web looks more and more like something we could have build with rudimentary CSS for layout. We’ve settled on our constraints and we are staying there, defined by not being print.

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

CSS Writing Mode

Some nifty layout tricks using the writing-mode property in CSS.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

CSS Containment Module Level 3

A way of declaring the scope of an element’s layout and paint styles, which browsers can then use as a hint to optimise performance. It’s already shipping in Chrome and Opera.

The Search For The Holy Grail: How I Ended Up With Element Queries, And How You Can Use Them Today – Smashing Magazine

An attempt to crack the element query nut. It relies on executing JavaScript at runtime so it doesn’t feel production-ready to me unless you’re already relying on JavaScript to render or style your content. Still, there’s a lot of good thinking has gone into the syntax—it’s worth investigating for that reason alone.

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Flex Layout Attribute (FLA)

The markup here (with proprietary inline attributes for styling) is a terrible idea but the demo that accompanies is great at showing how flexbox works …I just wish it didn’t try to abstract away the CSS. This is so close to being a really good learning tool for flexbox.