W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > June 2012

Re: Sticky Positioning

From: Ojan Vafai <ojan@chromium.org>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2012 21:30:23 -0700
Message-ID: <CANMdWTvMYc2eMHpML8J-1o=0YZuvFdG11xGVWur=27iZ5w7S8g@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Edward O'Connor" <eoconnor@apple.com>
Cc: www-style@w3.org
On Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 4:50 PM, Edward O'Connor <eoconnor@apple.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> Many web sites have elements that alternate between being in-flow and
> being position:fixed, depending on the user's scroll position. This is
> often done for elements in a sidebar that the page author desires to be
> always available as the user scrolls, but which slot into a space on the
> page when scrolled to the top. It can also be done for table headers
> which remain visible after the top of the table has been scrolled off-
> screen.
> Lots of sites, such as news.google.com (the "Top Stories" sidebar) and
> yelp.com (the search results map), use scroll event listeners in
> JavaScript to achive this effect. However, browsers are increasingly
> moving towards scrolling implementations that make use of hardware
> acceleration to improve performance, for example by leveraging the GPU,
> and doing scrolling on a thread other than the main UI thread.
> In this situation, browsers may use fast scrolling but fire scroll
> events asynchronously, which will result in rendering glitches on pages
> that update element positions from JavaScript via scroll events.
> Alternatively, the browser may fall into a slow scrolling mode when
> scroll events are listened for; this impacts the perceived quality of
> the browser's scrolling. To address this problem, common scrolling
> behaviors like this should be exposed declaratively, through CSS.
> A feature like this has been a long time coming. It was first proposed
> (for table headers) by the OEBPS (EPUB) folks on www-style in 2002[1]:
> > One of the examples of the desired layout\formatting behavior would be
> > that the header column would stay frozen if horizontal scrolling is
> > required to view additional columns of the table (similar to the
> > "Freeze Panes" option in Excel).
> Mikko Rantalainen proposed generalizing such a feature to elements other
> than table headers[2]:
> > Perhaps a new position value (e.g. "fixed-relative") that is a mix of
> > "relative" and "fixed": the content still reserves space in the flow
> > similar to relative but it would be displayed as fixed if the element
> > would not fit in the viewport but its containing block is visible. In
> > that case, the element would be "moved" within its containing block
> > until it would fully fit in the viewport.
> Mikko's proposal is very close to what we have in mind: a new value for
> the 'position' property, similar to relpos, but with a new method of
> calculating the element's offset.
> You'd use it like this:
> h1 {
>  position: sticky;
>  top: 10px;
> }
> This means that every <h1> in the document will "stick" 10 pixels from
> the viewport top when things scroll such that the <h1> would have been
> partially off-screen. When the viewport has scrolled such that the
> visible portion of the <h1>'s containing box is too small to fit the
> <h1>, it should stop at the containing box's edge and only be partially
> displayed.
> There are a lot of details to work out, of course. Doug raised several
> questions about such a feature in [3]; here are some preliminary
> thoughts on them.
> Doug wrote:
> > * should sticky content accumulate?
> No. In some future level of this feature, it might be worth
> investigating a new property or set of properties which could cause such
> accumulation. We should avoid this problem in the first level of this
> feature by having the sticky elements simply overlap, just as other
> positioned elements do.
> Doug wrote:
> > * what should be the behavior when a user jumps to the middle of a
> >   containing block that would otherwise have a sticky header/footer
> >   when scrolled (e.g. a row in the middle of a very long table, a
> >   paragraph under a sticky <h2> itself under a sticky <h1>)? (I think
> >   it the sticky content effect should be applied, though I suspect
> >   this will make implementation rather more difficult.)
> The sticky effect should be applied, just like any other positioning
> scheme.
> Doug wrote:
> > * should there be an event that is thrown when content sticks, so
> >   that the author can choose to enhance the effect via script or
> >   declarative animation?
> No. A big advantage of this feature over emulations of it in JS is the
> lack of events.

Great use-case. Something long-overdue for CSS to address. Some other
related use-cases:
1. positioning an element with respect to another element (e.g. a rich
tooltip or formatting bar) without exceeding the bounds of the viewport.
2. sticking an element to a boundary other than the viewport

I think http://www.xanthir.com/blog/b48H0 addresses the same problem more
generally. The proposed solution to your use-case is hidden in the last
paragraph, i.e. add the position-contain/position-restrict property instead
of adding a new position value. This proposal also gives added flexibility
of whether you want the element to take part in layout. You can get sticky
behavior with absolute or relative positioning.

For now, in order to address your use-case, we could just spec and
implement position-contain/position-restrict. position-root is only needed
for use-case 1 above and is a bit orthogonal I think.


> Thanks,
> Ted
> 1. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2002May/0153.html
> 2. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2009Dec/0165.html
> 3. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2009Dec/0204.html
Received on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 04:31:15 UTC

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