CSS grid layout can feel daunting. In fact, I avoided it for several years and was a diehard flexbox fan.
Then I found the following 3 powerful properties/techniques in grid that completely changed my tune.
Spoiler, here's a tweet with all of them. Keep reading to learn a bit more!
1: Switch the Grid Flow Axis#
I first desired this behavior when I wanted X-axis alignment of variable width items, and also desired to leverage
Default grid flow is oriented to "row" layout, which is complementary to block layout, where items flow down the page along the Y-axis.
This switches that default behavior to "column" which means items default to flowing along the X-axis.
- items will take as much room as needed to contain their content up until the max width of the container, at which point text will break to new lines
- there is a risk of overflow because of lack of "wrapping" behavior in grid, which means assigning this property will flow things along the X-axis into infinity
- this can be solved by only applying this behavior above a certain viewport width via a media query
Note: once flexbox
gapis fully supported, it will likely be the better method for this outcome due to also having wrapping behavior
For short content where variable widths are desirable, such as a navbar or list of icons, and when wrapping either isn't a concern or a media query can be used to flip this property.
2. XY Center Anything#
Literally the thing everyone makes fun of when CSS comes up as a topic:
"How do you center a div?"
Grid has the easiest answer!
Psst - interested in lots of solutions to centering? Check out the "The Complete Guide to Centering in CSS"
Centers any child content both vertically (Y) and horizontally (X) 🙌
- there are some gotchas related to the behavior assigned to the children
- the visual appearance may be only that it's centered horizontally if the container's height doesn't exceed the height of the children
Anytime you want to center something vertically and horizontally.
3. Intrinsically Responsive Grid Columns#
The unique-to-grid functions of
minmax() along with the
auto-fit keyword work together to create an outcome where immediate children become equal-width, responsive columns.
As the grid container resizes, upon hitting the supplied value for
--grid-col-breakpoint, the columns begin to drop to a new virtual row.
Use of the
--grid-col-breakpoint CSS variables allows altering this "breakpoint" via inline style to accommodate various content within a layout or across components with only a single class.
- columns will always be equal width, growing and shrinking to remain equal as the container also flexes in size
- it's possible for orphan columns to exist at certain container widths
Check out a more comprehensive explanation of what's happening in "Solutions to Replace the 12-Column Grid"
If you're in need of an intrinsically responsive grid with equal-width columns.
This behavior is also one of two viable "container query" methods that we currently have available since it responds to container width instead of being controlled by media queries.
Learn more about the idea of using grid for container queries >
Join my newsletter for article updates, CSS tips, and front-end resources!
This CodePen demonstrates all 3 techniques:
Check out my egghead lessons which further explore these grid techniques