Anne van Kesteren

CSS3 Columns

You probably have read Of Site Styles and CSS Columns and if not, you should. Eric Meyer makes some nice points on new Mozilla functionality and browser extensions (although he forgets to mention that the first CSS specification which addresses browser extensions isn't even a standard yet). All new properties from the CSS3 module: Multi-column layout (still working draft) will be implemented in Mozilla with a -moz- prefix to make sure the W3C can change the way those properties behave before browser are actually encouraged to implement them (when specifications become candidate recommendation). Of course, this will also make the properties much better when they are final, since all the bugs can be taken out before they are converted to the actual property name.

One parts of the specification is underspecified and I wonder if the idea will make it through till the next draft, although it is a very nice idea. Floating in and between columns let's you make little boxes of text floating inside the columns. The problem is however that you can't specify in which column they should float. Robert has done a lot already, but the code isn't in the source yet. Some parts probably need some optimization before they can be reviewed and the code he has created needs to be sorted into several smaller parts probably tracked in separate bugs. However, you can check some screen shots of selecting inside columns, printing columns and right to left languages inside columns. Great stuff!


  1. Floating in and between columns.

    Maybe it's nice-looking on paper.

    There'se a difference between paper and reading from a screen.

    Posted by Mario De Zutter at

  2. There'se a difference between paper and reading from a screen.

    That's true, but what if you want to create a CSS file for printing? ;-)

    Posted by BtM909 at

  3. Great idea, but it's funny that it has been in the works since 18 January 2001. I wonder how much longer it'll take them to advance it to the next level in their nomenclature. :)

    Posted by Milan Negovan at

  4. Nice to see CSS finally implemented a much needed feature that Netscape 3 and 4 had (in the form of the multicol tag)

    Instead of just getting to say how many collums you would like, it'd be really really handy to get to specify a width, that way it'd be usefull for liquid design. (so say, 30ems per collum, and the browser calcs how many collums fit, and then renders them)

    Posted by AkaXakA at

  5. Just looked at the specs, and they actually have thought of this. Too bad it's going to be a long time before we can actually use this properly.

    There's JS hacks for now though.

    Posted by AkaXakA at