Faux Absolute Positioning

by Eric Sol

125 Reader Comments

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  1. Robert, i can help explain the principle if you want. I can see how it can be confusing to get your head around, but once you’ve got it, it really is very useful.

    I tried to find an email address through your website, but couldnt. Let me know if you need a hand.

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  2. Pretty big help in positioning techniques. This guy knows his stuff! Keep it up!

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  3. There is a bug at IE6… when you place a background image in the middle rightest column, the column disappear.

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  4. I love this technique, although I know there are some arguments against it (google faux positioning). In fact I love it so much that the new base theme for Drupal I’m making is based on this technique and it works great! In the first website I did with this base theme I’m having a problem, when I added a table of contents that uses same pahe links, whenever I clicked on a section all of the content in the main div that came before it, dissappeared. If I give overflow:scoll just to the main div, I get a scrollbar in the div and I can see the content scrolling up. This is pretty much a deal braker for that particular theme I’m building because I really need table of contents because of the amount of content the pages in the site has. Is there any way to be able to use this technique with table of contents?

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  5. I can confirm that Rafael is correct with the fact that in IE6 a background image on one of the main ‘columns’ (item) will throw off the layout completely. Mousing over a link snaps the columns back to where they should be, but obviously that’s no solution.

    For now the best solution I can find is to put the background image on an element within the column/item instead.

    Strangely, using a background colour doesn’t cause the same glitch.

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  6. Nice article and interesting technique! Just one minor typo:

    t lets us play with position: overflow (without breaking the grid!).

    My first impulse is always to doubt myself, but I’m sure that’s not a legitimate value for this property! :)

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  7. Thanks Buddy! this would definitely help us to fix the positioning problems.

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  8. from the examples: scales poorly past a certain point. or was this just in the examples?

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  9. I have used this to redo the css for a site that went live earlier this year,

    My only problem is I cannot work out how to stop the menu in the left hand column from being displayed. Ive tried

    #sidebar-left.item column, #ddblueblockmenu
    {
    display: none;
    }

    and various combinations but it still gets printed . Any ideas

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  10. Ignore above having bad day and using wrong folder for style sheet access.

    doh!

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  11. This is awesome!  I just starting fooling around with it and I can already see how efficient this is.  Thanks for the article!!!

    J

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  12. I really just wanted to make a simple personal site. But the complexity of doing just the simplest of things have such a myriad of choices that I just want to throw my hands up in the air and scream. I thought CSS was to be a universal solution that would enable once and for all the ability for everyone to be on the same level playing surface. But as it turns out, for every solution there is 10 opinions that state the opposite or the same but different approach. I see why even though FrontPage was so hated by so many, that it really made things simple. That is, until we went to Expression versions. I guess at least everyone is in the same but different bucket of confusion. Ultimately, I guess my question is: have we really come that far? Just seems like everyone is just arguing a new subject, but in reality it just the same old stuff – no one agrees on anything. Why has CSS made everything so complex? When its original intent was to simplify. Maybe we should all start from scratch again!

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  13. There will be a problem when I add a background-image to that DIV in IE 6. All DIVs that contain a bckground-image will be kept in the right and not in the correct position.

    Do you have any method to solve this bug?

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  14. Thank you for publishing this great tip!! I’ve been trying to implement tableless CSS design and this makes it so much easier. Keep the great tips coming!

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  15. Thanks for sharing this concept. It is very interesting for me as I used to spent hours fixing some broken css layouts in IE 5 & 6. I will try this layout technic in one of my next projects.

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  16. This is a phenomenal technique, but I’ve run into an issue that a few others have mentioned. To reproduce this error, use a background-image on an element with class-name “item” and see how IE6 reacts.

    It appears that this is a “Peek-a-boo bug”:http://www.positioniseverything.net/explorer/peekaboo.html – the element is invisible when you load/reload the page, but suddenly reappears when you resize the browser window.

    I tried to use the “clearfix”:http://www.positioniseverything.net/easyclearing.html approach to no avail and ended up refactoring my layout to make use of the sap-content element for background images.

    Hopefully this extra info will help someone smarter than myself to find a more robust solution.

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  17. I’ve been building websites for years and consider myself pretty nifty with CSS, but a method like this just never occurred to me! It looks robust and pretty straight forward and I’ll deffinitely give it a try next time I need to do a reasonably complex layout. Cheers guys!

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  18. Thanks Dude! It would definitely help us. Thanks a lot :D

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  19. Hello, I try this layout trick and i found problem with combination “overflow:hidden” and scroll to id inside page from url hash. You can see it on example from this article.
    With url hash: “http://fapdemo.solide-ict.nl/home#edit-submit”:http://fapdemo.solide-ict.nl/home#edit-submit
    Without url hash: “http://fapdemo.solide-ict.nl/home”:http://fapdemo.solide-ict.nl/home

    Have you somebody any idea?
    Ps: I’m sorry for my bad english ;-)

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  20. That’s an awesome job at problem solving…I’ve wondered how to do something similar to this for awhile, because I hate using tables for layouts because they’re slow-loading, and with divs I felt like I was stuck into only creating 2 column-layouts for fear of creating broken layouts if the elements end up growing too much or the padding/margins aren’t quite the same for every browser.  Good solution.

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  21. I’m very intrigued by this approach, and so far testing it against various browsers has worked fine… except for one IE6 (?) glitch: when using a two-column layout with Faux Absolute Positioning, and IE6 is running on a Virtual PC, the left column frequently (but not always) gets displayed to the far right. For more info see: “Anyone seen image positioning problems with IE6 running on a Virtual PC?” on MSDN IE Web Dev forum…

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  22. My IE6 layout problem had already been reported (although apparently not yet completely resolved). I must have accidentally jumped past those posts…

    But knowing that it’s aggravated when running under VPC may shed some light on how someone (smarter than me) might come up with the best work-around.

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  23. Nice article, and nice techniques. I haven’t sen this approach before, and I will try it out.

    I’ve been wondering similar things when it comes to multi-column layouts, and I have an idea that I’ve been using that I’d lke to run past you, or anyone else.

    I’ve been using <span> elements with the CSS display: inline-block. In combination with the vertical-align: top; property, I can achieve something very much like two or three table cells sitting next to eachother in a row, since they are sitting on the same text baseline (inline) but can take width properties (block). It’s a nice combination of the two.

    The problem is, if you stick a DIV inside of these spans, the layout will not validate. Since Spans are default inline, is it not allowed to insert a block-level div inside of them. The reason why I use Spans in the first place is that as early as v5, inline-block is supported in IE only on elements that are by default inline. So, spans, anchors, img tags, etc… can be inline-block, but DIVs can not.

    So, the question is, while this is a powerful layout tool, is it off limits since it technically is not allowed? Will the inline-block property eventually go the way of the dodo and cease to be supported?

    Anyone?

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  24. Very useful article. I´ll tell my friends in the office about it. Thanks alot. Markus

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  25. Hi Eric!
    I have stumbled upon this technique while looking for a solution to my problem. I am still not sure if/how I can use it. I think you may have had the same issue. The users have a “screen designer” for a form layout. I need to replicate that in the browser. Now it’s done with absolute positioning, and the problem is that the footer, which comes right after the form’s content, now gets placed to the top because of absolutely positioned elements in the form that don’t provide the form with a height. Can I move the footer in it’s place by still positioning the elements inside the form in the same positions the user did? If so, how. I seem to not getting exactly the point.
    Thanks!

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