CSS3 Columns loves me some Gutenberg 2.0

Multicolumn layouts in CSS3 -- Source: pathf.com

Apparently some work has been going on implementing columns as a CSS3 module. Trouble is, the approach is more related to newspapers and magazines of yesteryear than with the way the web works. How useful will this kind of thing be for my Blackberry? For highly interactive sites?

Sorry, admit it: tables are still the best structure for web layouts even if using them is a semantic bastardization. And until there’s a standard that emerges that is better, simpler and more semantic than tables, you’ll still find people arguing for their use in layouts.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ll never use tables for layout and can’t remember the last time I did, but the CSS3 draft seems so painfully out of touch with the realities of interface development for which tables are most often used (since when do you see an interface widget “flow” from Column A to Column B??) that this module seems focused on Tofu-style reading rather than making any real progress in the development of a richer interface layout language.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

4 thoughts on “CSS3 Columns loves me some Gutenberg 2.0”

  1. The sad thing is CSS actually supports rendering any HTML element using a ‘table’ display type, making it structure itself like tables but without using the tags, just like display: inline and display: block, but of course IE doesn’t support it… sigh

  2. Lists are about the only content that I can see *really* working in columns on the web and why I’ll be cheering this module when (if) it gets implemented to the point of being. Floating lists of “short” items and hoping they line up properly or splitting said list into 2 lists just to get the multiple columns display is one of the more hacky things I still find myself doing on occasion.

  3. Chris, as you rightly point out CSS Columns is indeed akin to newspaper columns and may or may not prove to be useful, depending on how people handle the need to scroll up and down to read content.

    The part where you need slight correction is that these CSS Columns are not designed for ‘column layout’ as we used to do with tables, but are an entirely new concept for rendering flowing text.

    What you’re really looking for as regards finally killing the concept of tables for layout is the CSS Advanced Layout module. That is the piece of CSS3 for grids and sidebars and content-order-independence and so on.

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