Archive for the ‘ie’ Category

Fluid searchbox

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

There’s been a lot of fluid layouts recently. When you use a fluid layout it’s hard to make everything fluid as you need to stretch certain elements and have other elements fixed.

I was approached some time ago by a designer who was working on a fluid design but was having problems with a HTML/CSS only solution for a fluid searchbox. The idea to create a searchbox that grows when the window grows is simple, but becomes a tad more difficult when you add stuff to the left and right of it, some being fixed width (width in px or em) and some fluid width (width in %).

As I like challenges I took it on and produced a sample that worked on most modern browsers in a single evening. They didn’t like it because it didn’t work in IE7 (cause I never checked it) even though the fix for IE (it was only IE7 that didn’t work) was trivial. After a while I went back and checked it out again, changed the code a bit and I think it’s much better now.

The simple form

Creating a fluid search box when you only have a single element next to it is trivial. What you do is wrap the input in an element and use padding to create space for the fixed element, then position the fixed element absolutely (or relatively) in the space created by the padding.

		<input type="text" name="q" value="" />
	<input class="s" type="submit" value="Search" />
fieldset {position:relative;padding:0;}
div {padding-right:6em;}
div input {width:100%;}
input.s {width:5em;font-size:1em;position:absolute;right:0;top:0;}

You could target the input with input[type=submit] but that wouldn’t work in older browsers.

A complex form

The complex form from the intro includes a title, a search type drop-down (select element), the input box and a submit button. This gives us four elements, two of which are fixed and two fluid – and more stuff to hack around.

	<div class="l">
		<select name="type">
			<option>in Books</option>
			<option>in DVDs</option>
	<div class="c">
		<input type="text" value="" name="q" />
	<div class="r">
		<input type="submit" value="Search" />
fieldset {margin:0;padding:0;position:relative;border:0;}
fieldset .l {height:0;}
fieldset .l span {width:3em;display:inline-block;}
fieldset .l select {width:10%;}
fieldset .c {margin:0 60px 0 4em;padding:0 .7em 0 10%;}
fieldset .c input {width:100%;}
fieldset .r {position:absolute;right:0;top:0;}
fieldset .r input {width:60px;}
* html fieldset .l {float:left;width:100%;margin-right:-100%;}

The basics

I created three elements that help me align elements. I’m using classes l for left, c for center and r for right. The left element includes the title and the type, the central element includes the search box and the right element includes the submit button.

fieldset .l {height:0;}
fieldset .r {position:absolute;right:0;top:0;}

The left element has its height set to 0 so it seemingly doesn’t take any space. The central element includes the input and needs no special positioning, while the right element is positioned similar to the simple solution – absolute and set to right.

The surrounding elements

You can set the width of these elements in any unit you like. I set the width for the span element in em, type drop-down in % to make it fluid and submit button in px.

fieldset .l span {width:3em;display:inline-block;}
fieldset .l select {width:10%;}
fieldset .r input {width:60px;}

The only thing you need to do in CSS is set the width to these elements. You need to set the display property on the span element to work around the fact that inline elements don’t allow setting of width.

The fluid input

fieldset .c {margin:0 60px 0 4em;padding:0 .7em 0 10%;}
fieldset .c input {width:100%;}

The input needs its width set to 100% so it will stretch the whole available width of the parent. That happens due to the fact that block-level elements will grow to 100% automatically and the margin and padding will “shrink” its contents. This allows setting the spacing in two different units – one for margin and one for padding. If you look at the CSS rule, you’ll see that the widths are similar to those set for the surrounding elements – of course with some spacing added.

  • Right: 60px margin (width of the submit button), .7em padding (spacing)
  • Left: 4em margin (3em for the title + spacing), 10% padding (type select width)

The browsers

You can check out a sample page with the complex form. Working on Windows I’ve tested it in these browsers:

  • Firefox: 2.0, 3.0, 3.5
  • Opera: 10
  • Safari: 4
  • Google Chrome: 3
  • Internet Explorer: 8 (with its rendering of IE7 Standards and Quirks)

As always at least one browser had to fail – IE6 did. The problem was height:0; as IE6 will render elements as high as their content. We can work around this by changing the way we make it zero width/height so it doesn’t affect the central element.

* html fieldset .l {float:left;width:100%;margin-right:-100%;}

I’m using the IE6 CSS filter to target IE6, you can use conditional comments or whatever you like best. The rule floats the element left, making it 100% wide, but resets the position by setting the right margin to -100%.

As I’m using display:inline-block; this will work a bit different on browsers that don’t support inline-block. In Firefox 2.0 you can use display:-moz-inline-box; in the rule for the span, but make sure you put it before the inline-block.

fieldset .l span {width:3em;display:-moz-inline-box;display:inline-block;}

Last words

You might want to fix some stuff in some browsers so everything aligns nice. The techinque used is derived from the multi-unit any-order column layout by Eric Meyer as it opens your mind on how to use multiple units in a single layout without fuss. I’ve tried all the browsers I have on my dev machine and I’m not saying it works everywhere. If you find a browser where it doesn’t post a comment; if you find a better way of doing things also post a comment.

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Developing for Opera

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I’ve recently put a lot of time into Zemanta stuff working in Opera. There are a few things I’ve noticed that really bother me as a developer when developing for Opera.

OperaImage via Wikipedia
  1. The easiest way to be sure you’re getting a non cached file is to actually have it open in a tab and reload that tab. Emptying the cache does not seems to work as I’ve found out while caught in an alert loop.[1]

  2. I found the “don’t run scripts on this page anymore” checkbox in the alert box fascinating, but less so after I clicked it and couldn’t find a way to turn scripts back on for that specific page. Fortunately restarting the browser did the job.

  3. We load a loader.js that in turn loads other Javascript and CSS files. Unfortunately it seems I have to manually load these files in tabs in order to get them to work – even though I can see them in Dragonfly when I click them they seem to be blank. When I reload, the content appears. After that they work as expected. But even then I don’t see them loaded in the Network tab of Dragonfly.

  4. Can’t get the CSS loaded from a script to work. I don’t have any ideas, they just don’t work. I don’t see them in Dragonfly network tab (but I don’t see Javascript files either and they work).

  5. When using Dragonfly I cannot get out of the inspect DOm mode so I can’t use the site to do something while watching what is happening in the DOM – what you must do is switch to a different tab, do your stuff and then switch back.

  6. When you look at errors on a WordPress page Opera spits out loads of “-… is an unknown property” – thanks very much but properties that start with a – are supposed to be unknown to most of the browsers as they are vendor specific. This means that finding the error you’re looking for is much more difficult than it should be.

What I really hate the most when working with Opera is the lack of information about what is going on. They’ve added some really nice features in the recent releases but it is still quite far away from being a browser that people develop for. In this way it is sort of similar to IE but IE is a must and Opera isn’t…

If any of these are my mistakes I’d be glad if someone set me straight and taught me to use Opera as a developer. I bet others would too.

  1. When you have a loop that alerts something and you keep getting the alert – the only way of getting out is removing the alert from code, emptying cache and trying to hit reload between alerts. In Opera this does not seem to work as the only way to get the new file is to reload the file and you can’t do that between alerts. back
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Speaking about the web of data

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Today at 19:00 CET I’ll be speaking at a local web meet-up about the web of data. There’ll be a live feed of the talk available and since I’ll be speaking in English you can tune it. This is a quick translation of the abstract posted on Slovenian sites:

Numerous services are emerging on the web that provide data in a computer friendly form through APIs, microformats, feeds,… Even your blog is actually a database as it syndicates its content via feeds and new posts trigger a ping you can subscribe to.

This fact opens new ways of collaboration – so called mash-ups, but this isn’t really a new concept. What’s new about it is the fact that we don’t use this word anymore as all the new services are some sort of a mash-up leveraging existing services. But accessing data is not the only way to leveraging these services – it’s becoming increasingly easy to create an application that lives in other applications without their approval through browser extensions and bookmarklets.

Marko Mrdjenovič from Zemanta will talk about what you can do to make your site more mash-up friendly and why that’s becoming increasingly important. As a developer I’ll also present what options you have and give a few tips on what to do and what to avoid when developing these kind of apps.

If you have any questions during the talk use twitter to tell me and I’ll try to answer them. Or put them in the comments.

Update: The video is now online. It’s in English so go watch it and tell me what you think.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

There’s a really small probability that someone might need something like this but I did and I’d like to share it.

At Zemanta we have a few different ways of loading our scripts and we cannot always control when they do. The Firefox extension will load the scripts on DOM ready, WordPress plugin will load them somewhere in the middle of the HTML, Drupal and MovableType plugins will load them in the head and IE extension will load them sometime while loading the page.

This all means that we have to delay some of our code execution to when DOM is ready and scripts are loaded. Which is where the problem kicks in.

jQuery has this nice way of doing this with $(document).ready(fn) or short $(fn) which waits until the document is ready and executes the passed fn function. If the document is ready it will execute the function immediately. Our issue lies in what “document is ready” means to jQuery – it means different thing in different browsers.

In browsers that support DOMContentLoaded (Firefox, Webkit, Opera – let’s call them modern browsers) “document is ready” means that either DOMContentLoaded event fired on the document or the load event fired on its window. On IE “document is ready” means that either onreadystatechange fired with readyState === 'complete' on the document or document.documentElement.doScroll("left") is successful (Diego Perini hack). To make this short – if you load jQuery after all the events fired in modern browsers jQuery will never know that the document is ready.

To get around this (we really don’t like having our own hacked version of jQuery) I wrote this little plugin:

(function ($) {
$.readyOrDone = function (fn) {
	var s = document.readyState;
	if (s === 'complete') {

As you can see this will check if document is in a “complete” state and fire the ready method on jQuery which usually fires when DOM is ready – if it fired before it will do nothing. It will then add the function to the ready queue which also has this nice feature of firing immediately if DOM is ready.

All you have to do is change your $(fn) calls to $.readyOrDone(fn) and you have a bulletproof solution for executing functions when DOM is ready even if jQuery was late to the party and has no idea if the document is really ready.

Update: Filed a bug and hoping for the best.

Update 2: I found out that not all browsers provide the readyState property – Firefox on Ubuntu for example. Devised a new version that tries to smartly handle such cases:

(function ($) {
	var time = setTimeout(function () {}, 0),
		lastelm = null;
	$.readyOrDone = function (fn) {
		var s = document.readyState, getLast = function () {
			var elms = document.getElementsByTagName('*');
			return elms[elms.length - 1];
		if (s === 'complete') {
		} else if (typeof s === 'undefined') {
			lastelm = getLast();
			time = setTimeout(function () {
				if (getLast() === lastelm && typeof document.readyState === 'undefined') {
			}, 1000);
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jQuery transport is out…

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
JQuery intermediate site

Image by Phillie Casablanca via Flickr

After a week of mostly testing and fine-tuning the code I finally released the windowName transport plugin for jQuery. You can get the plugin here but I suggest you first check the plugin page.

I need help testing

If you have an obscure browser / OS combination that is supported by jQuery I urge you to test the plugin. There are no good test pages yet so my temporary test page will have to do. The test page POSTs the querystring passed to it to a nonlocal domain and should open a JavaScript alert with the same querystring plus php=true.

On a sidenote – I figured out that the page looks better without the background images. So I changed the theme – let me know what you think.

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Testing JavaScript in IE

Thursday, September 18th, 2008
Are libraries guns in the hands of children?

Image by Friedcell via Flickr

As nowadays less and less development goes on in Internet Explorer and the versions that are currently available and widely used have some quirks — to be fair they are by the book and others aren’t — I’m starting this post to have a list of stuff that you need to keep in mind if you don’t want problems when testing in IE.

  1. Trailing comma in object literals

    This is very common in multiline object definitions. someObject = {a:17,b:19,}; looks wrong but when you have a newline after everything it’s hard to find. Firefox lets it be, IE breaks silently. This one is easy to catch with JSLint.

  2. String is not an array

    Even though many languages treat it this way. Using str[i].charCodeAt() breaks while str.charCodeAt(i) doesn’t.

  3. Element ownership matters.

    This means that you have to take care when creating elements and attaching them to different documents. If you’re using jQuery beware – jQuery(someElement).append(someHtml); is ok since it will check what the owner document is but jQuery(someHtml).appendTo(someElement); might break if execution and someElement are in different documents. You can use jQuery(someHtml, someElement.ownerDocument).appendTo(someElement); though.

What I do before testing in any browser other than Firefox (Opera is sometimes even stricter) is to check with JSLint how damaged the code is. It will catch all the weirdly written code that might break a browser. And it catches that trailing comma I mentioned.

I’m quite sure the list should be longer but these are the things I encountered in the last few days. When I find more I’ll add them to the list. If you know any that are not on the list add a comment.

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