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Archive: 1 November 2005

Layout Revolution

Recently, Alex Robinson published an article titled “In Search of the One True Layout“, and it basically turns the conventional wisdom about what CSS layouts can and can’t accomplish on its ear.

One of the article’s primary aims is nothing less than enabling multi-column layout using no extra markup (beyond a div to enclose each column’s content) and allowing the columns to be in any document source order.  Impossible?  No.  It appears to have done just that in all current browsers, and several non-current browsers as well.

Assuming this technique stands up over time, and I see little to no reason why it would not, this is a truly major development (and that’s an understatement).  There is a problem in recent versions of Gecko-based browsers which you can read about in Bugzilla entry 312777.  The problem has been fixed in very recent builds, but the question is whether or not the fix will make it into Firefox 1.5.  In comment 40 of that entry, one of the engineers indicates that having web developers put in their thoughts on the importance of this fix would be welcome.

Now, we don’t want to create a stampede here.  However, if you have a Bugzilla account and your assessment of the importance of the bug varies from the comments posted, or you have something new to add to the comments, then by all means contribute.

Getting back to Alex’s article, it also tackles the desire for equal-height columns in a tableless design environment.  Then, just to pile it on, Alex knocks out a way to create vertical grids without tables.  Later on, he ties it all together into one neat, shiny package.

So that’s basically killing three long-standing frustrations of standards-oriented design with one stone.  Any one of them is notable in its own right; put the three together, and I’m pretty much emerald green with envy over here.  It might just be time for me to consider hanging up my spurs, folks, ’cause it looks like there’s a new sheriff in town.  And he’s packin’.

November 2005
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