The Holy Grail of Mobile Layout

The Holy Grail of Mobile Layout

The perfect mobile layout should allow the presence of a navbar, a content area and maybe a footer toolbar. This layout should resize with orientation changes such that the bottom toolbar is always at the bottom and the content area resizes its width and height to fit the new dimensions. This is tough because, first off, there is not fixed positioning, and secondly, there is no single finger scrolling in Webkit for CSS defined scrolling regions.

it’s taken me a while to come up with a solution to these layout requirements. Any of you trying to make a Web app feel like a native mobile app know the frustration of trying to deal with orientation change and complex layout. Not being able to make a toxic mix of viewport meta tags, CSS media queries and onorientationchange events work to give me a fluidly resizing layout when the mobile device’s orientation changed drove me to despair. I compensated early on using JavaScript to resize everything, except I had to pay a performance penalty, especially if an app was complex. After a lot of sweat and blood and endless trial and error, I finally came up with a CSS only solution to making a layout that resizes smoothly with orientation changes.

So, the first big mistake, one that everyone and their brother recommends, is not to use the meta tag viewport settings of device width and device height. Instead, just use the initial scale, maximum scale and user scalability:

<meta name="viewport" content="initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no">

The reason is that no matter what you set the width and height to with CSS, Webkit insists on thinking the document should have the height and width from when the document first loaded. This happens even if you use a CSS value of “width: 100%”. Switching from portrait to landscape, you’ll see that your layout fails to fill the width of the landscape screen:

iPhone Portrait Layout

iPhone Portrait Layout

iPhone Landscape Layout

iPhone Landscape Layout

As you can see with the landscape orientation the layout fails to fill the available width of the device. This app has its root elements’ widths set to 100% and a meta tag of:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width; height=device-height; initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no">

Removing the device width and height from the meta tag will give us the fluid layout we seek:

<meta name="viewport" content="initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no">

With the above change, when switching this document loaded in portrait orientation to landscape mode orientation we get a resized document the way we would like:

iPhone Landscape Layout Correctly Resized

iPhone Landscape Layout Correctly Resized

OK, so we have a navbar on the top, but what if we want a toolbar on the bottom? No problem. We can accomplish that with a few adjustments. To fix the toolbar to the bottom we’ll use absolute positioning. One thing to remember about this layout technique, if you are going to have navbars or toolbars, you’ll need to adjust the height of the content so that it fits the space left over by the bars. I do this using a class or class on the content section. A navbar or toolbar has a default height of 45 pixels, so you’d want to position your content that distance from a navbar or toolbar. To make this work, we’re going to have to use absolute positioning on the content section and on any bottom toolbar. One thing rather frustrating about using absolute positioning on block elements is that it causes them to collapse to what their content is, even with they have a width of 100%. We can get around this by setting the appropriate side to 0 pixels. For a bottom toolbar this could be something like this:

.toolbar.bottom {
    height: 45px;
    position: absolute;
    bottom: 0;
    left: 0;
    right: 0;
}

With the above measurement, we have a toolbar that is 45px high fixed to the bottom and stretching from side to side. This toolbar will maintain these dimensions and placement even with an orientation change. We’ll need to do something similar for the content area. Like I said, we’ll need to use absolute positioning and account for any space taken up by a nav or toolbar. I use classes to do this, such as “withNavbar”, or “withNavbar withBottomToolbar”, or “withBottomToolbar”. The CSS for these classes would be something like this:

/* Definition for content area that fills the screen: */
#content {
    position: absolute;
    top: 0;
    right: 0;
    bottom: 0;
    left: 0;
}
#content.withNavbar {
    top: 45px;
    right: 0;
    bottom: 0;
    left: 0;
}
#content.withBottomToolbar {
    top: 0;
    right: 0;
    bottom: 45px;
    left: 0;
}
#content.withNavbar.withBottomToolbar {
    top: 45px;
    right: 0;
    bottom: 45px;
    left: 0;
}

We also need to make sure that the document’s content doesn’t bleed down below the bottom toolbar. We do this by wrapping the entire document in a div. I give it an id of #main:

<body>
	<div id="main">
		<div class="navbar">
			<h1>The Title</h1>
		</div>
		<div id="content" class="withNavbar withBottomToolbar">
			<ul class="table-view">
				<li><span class="title">Item One</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Two</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Three</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Four</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Five</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Six</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Seven</span></li>
				<li><span class="title">Item Eight</span></li>
			</ul>
		</div>
		<div class="toolbar placement-bottom">
			<div class="button">Edit</div>
			<div class="button">Save</div>
		</div>
	</div>
</body>

The styles for the div#main would be:

#main {
	width: 100%;
	display: -webkit-box;
	margin: 0 0 0 0;
	padding: 0;
	height: 100%;
	-webkit-box-orient: vertical;
	-webkit-box-align: stretch;
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
	-webkit-transition: all 0.25s  ease-in-out;
	overflow: hidden;
	position: absolute;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;
	bottom: 0;
	right: 0;
}

Although the above arrangement solves the layout problems for mobile interfaces with automatic adjustment with orientation changes, it presents a new problem. That’s the problem of making the data in the content area reachable by the user. You’ll need to add a way for the user to scroll just that area. Normally the whole document would scroll with the browser, with the result that the top part would scroll out of view. Since we’ve fixed the toolbar to the bottom and have the height of the content area control by absolute position affecting its top, right, bottom and left, we need to provide a way to enable scrolling. Actually we could do this very simply using the CSS overflow property: #content { overflow-y: auto; }. However, on mobile Webkit this requires a two finger gesture. Most users would not expect this. They’ll use a single finger and think that the content is not scrollable.

There’s a simple way to provide single finger scrolling with a JavaScript module called “iScroll” created by Matteo Spinelli. This is a great implementation which provides deceleration animation of the scrolling, just like iOS, Android and other mobile OSes. One thing to be aware of when using iScroll, you don’t use it directly on the content container as this would cause that contain to slide up and down over the navbar and toolbar. Instead you’ll need to add an extra div tag inside it and use iScroll on that. iScroll will then enable scrolling of the div inside the content div. There are a number of options, my favorite is for desktop simulation. Here how you would do it:

<div id="content" class="withNavbar withBottomToolbar">
    <div id="scrollwrapper">
        <!-- Content In Here -->
    </div>
</div>
.........

<script type="text/javascript">
    var scroller = new iScroll(’scrollwrapper’, { desktopCompatibility : 
        true });
</script>

This gives you a basic mobile Web interface with a top navbar, a bottom toolbar and a content area with scroll that resizes quickly with orientation change.

Since publishing this article, I’ve created a framework for creating mobile Web apps. It uses many of the techniques explored in my blog posts. You can learn more about the framework by visiting ChocolateChip-UI.com. There are demos you can try in your desktop browser or on your mobile device.

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ChocolateChip Has Its Own Blog

ChocolateChip, the little guy that does big things

So, ChocolateChip, the tiny JavaScript mobile Web framework that is only 8k when minified, now has its own blog: ChocolateChip-Mobile.net. I put this blog together to show how ChocolateChip works and how you can use it to accomplish your coding needs. I also talk about best coding practices with ChocolateChip.

ChocolateChip can be so small because it doesn’t have to support ancient browsers or compensate for cross-browser nightmares. Instead it takes advantage of modern browsers’ implementation of the features in ECMAScript 5 and DOM level 3. The idea was to keep ChocolateChip simple, avoiding object wrappers and object obfuscation, and making everything interchangeable with regular JavaScript. That means you can adjust ChocolateChip to your coding style, not the other way around. You can substitute any ChocolateChip for your own code at any time. As a matter of fact, if you don’t like the default $, $$ aliases that ChocolateChip uses, open up the files and change them to whatever you want. ChocolateChip is open source with a BSD license, so if you want to add some feature, feel free to. And if you feel like sharing your feature with the rest of us, feel free to contact me.

Have a great day and enjoy your ChocolateChip.

Subpixel Rendering

You know the problem. No matter what you do you can’t get two elements to line up properly. The connecting points are always off by one pixel.

Everyone doing Web development at some point or other comes across a layout problem where no matter what you do, you can’t get two elements to align perfectly. One or the other is always off by one pixel. I was pulling my hair out try to get the pointers on the back and next buttons to align perfectly. They just didn’t look perfect. Worse still, when I used the browser’s “Zoom In” command from the view menu, I could clearly see that the lines did not connect properly.

After hours of fiddling with element sizes and positioning, I was on the verge of giving up. It was then that I remembered similar layout problems that I dealt with when doing Silverlight development. Silverlight is Microsoft’s vector-based, Flash killer/non-killer plugin for creating RIAs. For whatever reason, versiond before 4.0 had terrible problems with exact positioning of elements, causing frequent one pixel disconnects when rendered to screen. The only way to resolve this was to use subpixel rendering. This was accomplished by positioning an element by using partial pixel values, such as 1.5 or 1.25. This would force Silverlight to output the element with subpixel rendering, eliminating the visual disconnect.

OK, so what the heck is subpixel rendering? You experience it everyday with the browser’s font smoothing. You know it as anti-aliasing. The browser looks at the bézier curves of the font and when it sees that a line passes though a pixel, it looks at how much of the pixel is intersected. Depending on the percentage, the browser outputs a percentage of the font’s color. Less means the pixel gets less of the font’s color. For the human eye this creates the illusion of smoother curves.

You can use this same technique to trigger subpixel rendering on an element by giving it percentage-based position, or percentage-based dimensions. Here are some examples:

.button {
    position: absolute;
    left: 0px;
    top: 2.5px;
    height: 23.5px;
    width: 23.5px;
}

Here’s a image of my next button with the browser zoomed in. As you can see the pointer doesn’t line up perfectly with the rest of the button. This caused a slightly noticeable disconnect at normal size as well.

next button with its pointer misaligned

Now here’s the same button with the pointer using position set to top: 2.5px;:

next button using subpixel positioning

Subpixel rendering solved the connect problem I had at all zoom levels, including at normal size. Depending on your problem, subpixel positioning may be enough, or subpixel dimensions may be enough, or you may need to do both. Using subpixel values can help resolve problems when your layouts are not coming out pixel perfect.

You can try this out online or download the source code.

Today’s new technology terms:

subpixel:
   A pixel rendered with a shade of an adjacent element’s color to make it appear as if the element occupies part of that pixel’s space.
subpixelate:
   To force the browser to render an element with subpixel values.
subpixelation:
   The act of forcing an element to render with subpixel values or the condition of being rendered with subpixel values.

User Controled Color Theme

Works on Desktop Safari, desktop Google Chrome, desktop Firefox 3.6-4, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.

So, in the last blog post I showed how to make RGB slides with HTML, CSS and some JavaScript. I thought about it and, while interesting, it doesn’t have a whole lot of practical application. Sure you could take that and hook up any other type of value to get whatever result you might need for your interface. Well that got me to thinking, so I threw together an implementation of the RGB sliders that allow a user to change the color scheme of a Web app. No need to spend time creating different color themes. Let the user do it.

OK, before you think I’m crazy, especially you folks from the design community, let me explain. I came up with a basic theme technique. I call it chromaeleon &mdash because the app’s chrome can change colors like a chamaeleon. The way this works is, instead of solid color gradients, you create gradients with transparent values of black and white. Behind this you have a background color which shows through the transparent gradients. This way, when the user drags the sliders, the background colors update and the look of the interface changes. Now in the real world you’d want to provide a way for the user to save their color choice. You could save the choice to localStorage. Then when the app loads, it checks to see it the user saved a color choice, if not, it goes to the default. Sorry, I didn’t do all of that. Just the part to update the background colors. Here’s what it will look like:

iPhone Chromaeleon Interface

The structure we’re going to use is pretty must standard as we’ve used elsewhere, a header, a section, some buttons.

<body>
	<header>
		<a href="http://css3wizardry.com" class="button back"><span class="pointer"></span><span>Back</span></a>
		<h1>Chromaeleon Theme</h1>
		<span class="button">Click Here</span>
	</header>
	<section>
		<h2>Use the sliders to adjust the colors of the theme.</h2>
		<div class="colorRow">
			<div id="redSlider" class="slider">
				<div class="thumb"></div>
			</div>
			<div id="redColor" class="colorOutput"></div>
			<span> Red</span>
		</div>
		<div class="colorRow">
			<div id="greenSlider" class="slider">
				<div class="thumb"></div>
			</div>
			<div id="greenColor" class="colorOutput"></div>
			<span> Green</span>
		</div>
		<div class="colorRow">
			<div id="blueSlider" class="slider">
				<div class="thumb"></div>
			</div>
			<div id="blueColor" class="colorOutput"></div>
			<span> Blue</span>
		</div>
		<div class="colorRow finalResult">
			<span>Final Color: </span>
			<div id="rgbColor" class="colorOutput"></div>
			<br />
			<span>RGB: </span><span id="rgbResult">0, 0, 0</span>
			<br />
			<span>HEX: </span><span id="hexResult">#000000</span>
		</div>
	</section>
</body>

So, for the header and the buttons, we need to change their default gradients, as I mentioned above, to have RGBA transparency values. This is my basic gradient:

background-image: 
	-moz-linear-gradient(top, 
		rgba(255,255,255,.5), 
		rgba(30,30,30,.65) 50%, 
		rgba(0,0,0,.7) 50%, 
		rgba(0,0,0,.8)); 
background-image: 
	-webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, 
		from(rgba(255,255,255,.5)), 
		color-stop(0.5,rgba(30,30,30,.65)), 
		color-stop(0.5, rgba(0,0,0,.7)), 
		to(rgba(0,0,0,.8)));

And for the hover state of the button, we use this gradient:

background-image: 
	-webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, 
		from(rgba(0,0,0,.1)), 
		color-stop(0.5,rgba(0,0,0,.5)), 
		color-stop(0.5, rgba(0,0,0,.6)), 
		to(rgba(255,255,255,.2)));
background-image: 
	-moz-linear-gradient(top,
		rgba(0,0,0,.1), 
		rgba(0,0,0,.5) 50%, 
		rgba(0,0,0,.6) 50%, 
		rgba(255,255,255,.2));

Now to change the color, all we need to do is introduce a new method to our existing code:

/**
*
* Method to update chrome colors according to the RGB value of the sliders.
*
*/
$.updateInterfaceColors = function() {
	$("header").css("background-color: rgb(" + $.rgbColor[0] + "," + $.rgbColor[1] + "," + $.rgbColor[2] + ")");
	$$(".button").forEach(function(button) {
		button.css("background-color: rgb(" + $.rgbColor[0] + "," + $.rgbColor[1] + "," + $.rgbColor[2] + ")");
	});
	$("section").css("background-color: rgb(" + $.rgbColor[0] + "," + $.rgbColor[1] + "," + $.rgbColor[2] + ")");
	$(".pointer").css("background-color: rgb(" + $.rgbColor[0] + "," + $.rgbColor[1] + "," + $.rgbColor[2] + ")");
};

To execute this method, we invoke it in the slide mouse event handlers for each slider, and for touch-based mobile devices we invoke it in the updateSliderTouch method:

/**
*
* This is for the red slider's mouse interaction, you'd do the same for the green and blue sliders' setup scripts as well.
*/
// Set up three sliders for Red, Green and Blue:
$.slider("#redSlider", { 
	onDrag : function() {
		$("#redSlider").setColorFromSlider("red");
		$.updateInterfaceColors();
	},
	// onDragEnd function necessary to remove hover state off of slider thumb when drag ends.
	onDragEnd : function() {},
	top : -6
});
/**
*
* This is for touch-enabled devices. You invoke the $.updateInterfaceColors() method just once inside the updateSliderTouch method's definition, at the very end.
*/
Element.prototype.updateSliderTouch = function( color ) {
	this.style.left =  curX + 'px'; 
	if (color === "red") {
		$("#" + color + "Color").css("background-color: rgb(" + curX +",0,0)");
		$.rgbColor[0] = curX;
	}
	if (color === "green") {
		$("#" + color + "Color").css("background-color: rgb(0," + curX +",0)");
		$.rgbColor[1] = curX;
	}
	if (color === "blue") {
		$("#" + color + "Color").css("background-color: rgb(0,0," + curX +")");
		$.rgbColor[2] = curX;
	}
	$("#" + color + "Slider").css("-webkit-background-size:" + (curX + 1) + "px 9px, 100% 9px");
	$("#" + color + "Slider").css("background-size:" + (curX + 1) + "px 9px, 100% 9px");
	$("#rgbColor").css("background-color: rgb(" + $.rgbColor[0] + "," + $.rgbColor[1] + "," + $.rgbColor[2] + ")");
	$("#rgbResult").fill($.rgbColor[0] + ", " + $.rgbColor[1] + ", " + $.rgbColor[2]);
	$("#hexResult").fill("#" + $.rgb2hex($.rgbColor[0]) + $.rgb2hex($.rgbColor[1]) + $.rgb2hex($.rgbColor[2]));
	$.updateInterfaceColors();
};

This works great on desktop Safari, Chrome and even Firefox (Yay!), and fine on the iPad. For iPod Touch or iPhone you need to load it in portrait mode. it’s a bit cramped due to the size of the sliders. I needed them to be at least 255px long for the RGB values, and then borders, box shadows and the extra space for the thumbs made them barely fit in the iPhone’s and iPod Touch’s default width. Try hitting the plus icon at the bottom of the browser and save it to you device’s desktop. Then run it from there, you’ll have more vertical space. You can try this out online or download the source code. Enjoy!

iPhone Modal Popup with HTML5, CSS3 & JavaScript

Works on Desktop Safari, Desktop Google Chrome, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. Note that I’ve included some styling for Firefox, even though it has no presence to speak of in the mobile space. In particular, Firefox 4 beta still lacks support for CSS3 keyframe animation, although that will make it into a later update.

If you’ve used an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, then you’re familiar with the modal popup dialog boxes that the native system uses. Here’s a typical iPhone popup:
Native iPhone modal popup

Notice the white radial gradient behind the popup. I was able to replicate this, but when the user was on a long document and scrolled down to do something that would trigger a popup, I could find no way to center that radial gradient based on the vertical page scroll. I therefore went with a whitesh blur around the popup itself using a CSS3 box shadow. Here’s what my HTML5/CSS3 version looks like:

Originally I thought I would use just one popup per app, re-assigning values to the popup’s part each time the popup was invoked. However I ran into the problem of events from different and I failed to find an elegant way to resolve this. I therefore came up with a scheme where you initialize a popup at the view level, allowing each view to have a custom popup. The initializing script creates the popup and injects it as the last child of the view. The setup script creates the markup for the popup and populates it with values passed as an argument to the initializing script. The setup script also adds basic functionality to the buttons so that clicking either of them will close the popup. The setup script also creates a screen cover which traps events to prevent user interaction with what is behind the popup until it is closed.

The setup script accepts a single argument—an object literal containing key/values pairs to populate the popup. In order for the setup script to create a popup, you must at least pass a value for a valid view in your Web app. This would be like selector: "#Popup". If no other values are passed, the script will produce a basic popup that looks like this:
Basic popup

I used the ChocolateChip mobile JavaScript library to add the interactive functionality to the popup. Here’s the JavaScript that creates the markup and functionality for the popup:

/** 
* 
* A method to initialize a modal popup. By passing a valid selector for a view, this method creates a view based popup with the properties supplied by the options argument. It automatically binds events to both popup buttons to close the popup when the user clicks either. If a callback is passed as part of the opts argument, it gets bound to the "Continue" button automatically.
*
* @method
* 
* ### setupPopup
*
* syntax:
*
*  $.setupPopup({selector: "#News", title: "Subscribe", cancel: });
*
* arguments:
* 
*  - string: string A valid selector for the parent of the tab control. By default the an object literal.
*  - string: string An object literal which can have the following properties:
	title: a string defining the title in the popup.
	message: a string defining the popup message.
	cancelButton: a string defining an alternate name for the cancel button.
	continueButton: a string defining an alternate name for the confirm button.
	callback: a function to run when the user touches the confirm button.
	If no title is supplied, it defaults to "Alert!".
	If no cancelButton value is supplied, it defaults to "Cancel".
	If no continueButton value is supplied, it defaults to "Continue".
* example:
*
*  $.setupPopup({selector: "#buyerOptions"});
*  $.setupPopup({
		selector: "#Popup",
		title: 'Attention Viewers!', 
		message: 'This is a message from the sponsors. Please be seated while we are getting ready. Thank you for your patience.', 
		cancelButton: 'Skip', 
		continueButton: 'Stay for it', 
		callback: function() {
			$('#popupMessageTarget').fill('Thanks for staying with us a bit longer.');
			$('#popupMessageTarget').removeClass("animatePopupMessage");
			$('#popupMessageTarget').addClass("animatePopupMessage");
		}
	});
*
*/
$.setupPopup = function( opts ) {
	if (opts.selector) {
		var selector = opts.selector;
	} else {
		return false;
	}
	var title = "Alert!";
	if (opts.title) {
		var title = opts.title;
	}
	var message = "";
	if (opts.message) {
		var message = opts.message;
	}
	var cancelButton = "Cancel";
	if (opts.cancelButton) {
		cancelButton = opts.cancelButton;
	}
	var continueButton = "Continue";
	if (opts.continueButton) {
		continueButton = opts.continueButton;
	}
	var popup = '<div class="screenCover hidden"></div>';
	popup += '<section class="popup hidden"><div>';
	popup += '<header><h1>' + title + '</h1></header>';
	popup += '<p>' + message +'</p><footer>';
	popup += '<div class="button cancel">' + cancelButton + '</div>';
	popup += '<div class="button continue">' + continueButton + '</div></footer></div></section>';
	$(selector).insertAdjacentHTML("beforeEnd", popup);
	// Bind event to close popup when either button is clicked.
	$$(selector + " .button").forEach(function(button) {
		button.bind("click", function() {
			$(selector + " .screenCover").addClass("hidden");
			$(selector + " .popup").addClass("hidden");
		});
	});
	
	if (opts.callback) {
		var callbackSelector = selector + " .popup .continue";
		$(callbackSelector).bind("click", function() {
			opts.callback();
		});
	}
	
};

And here is an initialization of a popup:

$.setupPopup(
	{
		selector: "#Popup",
		title: 'Attention Viewers!', 
		message: 'This is a message from the sponsors. Please be seated while we are getting ready. Thank you for your patience.', 
		cancelButton: 'Skip', 
		continueButton: 'Stay for it', 
		callback: function() {
			$('#popupMessageTarget').fill('Thanks for staying with us a bit longer.');
                        // Remove this class in case the popup was opened previously.
			$('#popupMessageTarget').removeClass("animatePopupMessage");
                        // Then add the class to trigger an animation of the message being displayed.
			$('#popupMessageTarget').addClass("animatePopupMessage");
		}
	}
);

Now that a popup has been created and populated with the desired values, we need a way to show it. Before actually showing the popup, the $.showPopup method display a screen cover which captures user interaction and thereby prevents the interface behind the popup from being accessed until the popup is dispelled. The showPopup method accepts one argument, a selector indicating a uniquely identifiable node that contains the popup as a descendant.

$.showPopup = function( selector ) {
	var screenCover = $(selector + " .screenCover");
        // Make the screen cover extend the entire width of the document, even if it extends beyond the viewport.
	screenCover.css("height:" + (window.innerHeight + window.pageYOffset) + "px");
	var popup = $(selector + " .popup");
	$(selector + " .popup").style.top = ((window.innerHeight /2) + window.pageYOffset) - (popup.clientHeight /2) + "px";
	$(selector + " .popup").style.left = (window.innerWidth / 2) - (popup.clientWidth / 2) + "px";
	$(selector + " .screenCover").removeClass("hidden");
	$(selector + " .popup").removeClass("hidden");
};

With this method defined we can now show the popup as need. Here’s a script that attaches an event handler to a button with a class of “openPopup” for a popup somewhere among the descendant nodes of a node with an id of “Tabs”:

$("#Tabs .openPopup").bind("click", function() {
	$.showPopup("#Tabs");
});

OK, so we have the markup and functionality for the popup, but we don’t have the look. We’ll take care of that next. In order to create the unique look of the iPhone popup, I use several layers for encasing borders and composited transparent background gradients. Originally I had two gradients, the dark blue linear gradient and the whitish radial gradient, layered on top of each other as multiple backgrounds. But Google Chrome had a problem rendering the underlying linear gradient, ignoring its transparent alpha values and rending the colors as opaque. I was therefore forced to break them out into separate elements. The end result is the same. When the popup is created by the setup script, it is given a class of “hidden.” This defines its scale as 0% and its opacity as 0%. When we execute the showPopup method, it removes that “hidden” class. Because the popup has basic transitions properties defined on it, its scale and opacity transition from zero to full, making it appear to popup out of no where. The scripts also always make sure that the popup is centered in the viewport, regardless of where it was displayed when scrolling down a long document.

For their modal popups, Apple always indicates the default button, what would be equivalent to a submit or OK button, with slightly lighter colors so that it stands out from the other button, which is the equivalent of a cancel/close button. I have the buttons located in a footer and I use CSS3’s flexible box model styles to make the buttons position and size them selves according to available space.

/* Modal Popup Styles */
section.popup {
	width: 75%;
	max-width: 300px;
	border: solid 1px #72767b;
	-webkit-box-shadow: 0px 4px 6px #666, 0 0 50px rgba(255,255,255,1);
	-moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 1px #72767b,  0px 4px 6px #666;
	box-shadow: 0px 0px 1px #72767b, 0px 4px 6px #666;
	-webkit-border-radius: 10px;
	-moz-border-radius: 10px;
	border-radius: 10px;
	padding: 0px;
	opacity: 1;
	-webkit-transform: scale(1);
	-webkit-transition: all 0.25s  ease-in-out;
	position: absolute;
	z-index: 1001;
	margin-left: auto;
	margin-right: auto;
	background-image: 
		-webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom,
			from(rgba(0,15,70,0.5)),
			to(rgba(0,0,70,0.5)));
}
section.popup.hidden {
	opacity: 0;
	-webkit-transform: scale(0);
	top: 50%;
	left: 50%;
	margin: 0px auto;
}
section.popup > div {
	border: solid 2px #e6e7ed;
	-webkit-border-radius: 10px;
	-moz-border-radius: 10px;
	border-radius: 10px;
	padding: 10px;
	background-image: 
	   -webkit-gradient(radial, 50% -1180, 150, 50% -280, 1400,
		   color-stop(0, rgba(143,150,171, 1)),
		   color-stop(0.48, rgba(143,150,171, 1)),
		   color-stop(0.499, rgba(75,88,120, .9)),
		   color-stop(0.5, rgba(75,88,120,0)));
	color: #fff;
	text-shadow: 0px -1px 1px #000;
}
section.popup header {
	background: none;
	-webkit-border-top-left-radius: 10px;
	-webkit-border-top-right-radius: 10px;
	-moz-border-radius-topleft: 10px;
	-moz-border-radius-topright: 10px;
	border-top-left-radius: 10px;
	border-top-right-radius: 10px;
	border: none;
	color: #fff;
	text-shadow: 0px -2px 1px #000;
}
section.popup header > h1 {
	letter-spacing: 1px;
}
section.popup footer
{
	display: -webkit-box;
	-webkit-box-orient: horizontal;
	-webkit-box-pack:justify;
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
	display: -moz-box;
	-moz-box-orient: horizontal;
	-moz-box-pack:justify;
	-moz-box-sizing: border-box;
}
section.popup footer > .button {
	-webkit-box-flex: 2;
	-moz-box-flex: 1;
	display: block;
	text-align: center;
	-webkit-box-shadow: none;
	-moz-box-shadow: none;
	box-shadow: none;
	margin: 10px 5px;
	height: 32px;
	font-size: 18px;
	line-height: 32px;
	-webkit-border-radius: 8px;
}
section.popup footer > .button.cancel {
	background-image: 
		-webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, 
			from(#828ba3), 
			color-stop(0.5, #4c5a7c), 
			color-stop(0.5, #27375f), 
			to(#2e3d64));
}
section.popup footer > .button.continue {
	background-image: 
		-webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, 
			from(#b0b6c4), 
			color-stop(0.5, #7a839b), 
			color-stop(0.5, #515d7c), 
			to(#636e8a));
}
section.popup footer > .button:hover, .popup footer > .button.hover {
	background-image: 
		-webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, 
			from(#70747f), 
			color-stop(0.5, #424857), 
			color-stop(0.5, #171e30), 
			to(#222839));
}
.screenCover {
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;
	display: block;
	background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.5);
	position: absolute;
	z-index: 1000;
	top: 0px;
	left: 0px;
}
.screenCover.hidden {
	display: none;
}

You can try this out online or download the source code to play around with it.

CSS3 Page Flips

Works with Safari, iPhone, iPad.

In previous examples of page navigation we used various types of sliding effects to indicate to the use the transition from one section of a Web app to another. Now we’re going to look at how to indicate section transitions with various types of page flips. In order for these types of flips to work properly, we will need to enclose the items being rotated in a parent element that has the CSS3 property for transform style with a value of preserve-3d. We also need to define the perspective value. The higher the value, the further back from the element the viewer will be, reducing the perspective distortion. Similarly, the smaller the perspective value, the more pronounced the 3D effect will be. For something a little less pronounced I use a value of 1000, and for more pronounced: 500.

First we’re going to look at implementing a typical “card flip” effect. We’re going to implement this with the same basic layout that I created in earlier posts with backward and forwards navigation with a slide effect, except that the links will lead to pages with the various flips and rotations. So, the target of the menu items will contain a parent element, a div tag, which we’ll give a class of “card.” This will have the perspective values that will determine how the rotation looks with perspective distortion. Here’s the markup for the first section. The other section have the same markup, but a different identifier to allow for unique transforms on each section. One thing to bear in mind when implenting these types of transforms, the background of the body tag will show as the elements transition. So, you should make transforms elements’ backgrounds visually different from the background of your body tag so that you can see the elements as they are rotated easier.

<article id="Flip">
	<section class="card">
		<div class="face front">
			 <header>
				 <span class="button back"><span></span>Back</span>
				 <h1>Flip Page Over</h1>
				 <span  id="flipOverButton" class="button">Flip Over</span>
			 </header>
			 <div class="paddingWrapper">
				 <h2>This is the front</h2>
				 <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.</p>
		 </div>
		</div>
		<div class="face back">
			<header>
				<h1>Flip Page Over</h1>
				<span  id="flipBackButton" class="button">Flip Back</span>
			</header>
			<div class="paddingWrapper">
				<h2>This is the back</h2>
				<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.</p>
			</div>
		</div>
	</section>
</article>

Here’s the CSS we need to get the rotation flip to work:

#Flip {
	-webkit-perspective: 1000;
	position: absolute;
}
article .card {
	min-height: 100%;
	width: 100%;
	position: absolute;
}
.face {
	position: absolute;
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;
	text-align: center;
	-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;
	-webkit-transform-style: preserve-3d;
	-webkit-transition: all .5s ease-in-out;
}
#Flip .face.front {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(0deg);
	background-color: #fffccf;
}
#Flip .face.back {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(180deg);
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
	background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.125);
}
#Flip .face.front.flip  {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(-180deg);	
}
#Flip .face.back.flip {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(0deg);	
}

We define the perspective property -webkit-perspective: 1000 on the article tag with an id of #Flip. Then we set the initial rotation status of the two divs. For the frontmost div we give it a rotation of 0 degrees, and for the back one, a rotation of 180. We also give the div with the “face” class a CSS3 property to hide its rear side so that it doesn’t show when we rotate it: -webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;. Now, to initiate the flip effect all we have to do is use a little JavaScript to add and remove the “flip” class to the two elements.

Now let’s look at how to implement another flip effect that resembles a left page turn. This is basically the same as the card flip described above, except that we’re going to define the start position of the transform. By default the start position is at the center of the element’s y axis. We’re going to use -webkit-transform-origin: 0% 0%; If we used a value of -webkit-transform-origin: 100% 0%; the result would resemble doors swinging open and closed. Here’s the complete list of styles for the left page turn effect. Notice that we’ve decreased the perspective on the “card” class to 500:

#TurnLeft .card {
	height: 100%;
	-webkit-perspective: 500;
}
#TurnLeft {
	height: 100%;
	background: #cbd2d8;background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, right top, from(#c5ccd4), color-stop(0.75, #c5ccd4), color-stop(0.75, transparent), to(transparent)); 
	-webkit-background-size: 6px 100%;
}
#TurnLeft .face {
	position: absolute;
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;
	-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;
	-webkit-transform-style: preserve-3d;
	-webkit-transition: all .5s ease-in;
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box
	text-align: center;
}
#TurnLeft .face.front {
	background-color: #fffccf;
	background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, right top, from(rgba(197, 204, 212, 0.5)), color-stop(0.75, rgba(197, 204, 212, 0.5)), color-stop(0.75, transparent), to(transparent)); 
	-webkit-background-size: 5px 100%;
	-moz-background-size: 7px 100%;
	-webkit-transform-origin: 0% 0%;
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(0deg);
}
#TurnLeft .face.back {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(180deg);
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
	background-color: rgba(122,137,212,0.25);
	-webkit-transform-origin: 0% 0%;
}
#TurnLeft .face.front.turnLeft  {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(-180deg);	
}
#TurnLeft .face.back.turnLeft {
	-webkit-transform: rotateY(0deg);	
}

So, once again we can trigger the turn page left effect by adding and removing the “turnLeft” class to the necessary elements.

Lastly, we’ll look at how to do a swing back and down effect. Notice that we’re not rotating on the y-axis but on the x-axis. This causes the elements to rotate on their x-axis:


#SwingBack .card {
	min-height: 100%;
	-webkit-perspective: 500;
}
#SwingBack {
	height: 100%;
	background: #cbd2d8;background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, right top, from(#c5ccd4), color-stop(0.75, #c5ccd4), color-stop(0.75, transparent), to(transparent)); 
	-webkit-background-size: 6px 100%;
}
#SwingBack .face {
	position: absolute;
	width: 100%;
	height: 100%;
	-webkit-backface-visibility: hidden;
	text-align: center;
	-webkit-transform-style: preserve-3d;
	-webkit-transition: all .5s ease-in-out;
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box
}
#SwingBack .face.front {
	background-color: #fffccf;
	background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, right top, from(rgba(197, 204, 212, 0.5)), color-stop(0.75, rgba(197, 204, 212, 0.5)), color-stop(0.75, transparent), to(transparent)); 
	-webkit-background-size: 5px 100%;
	-moz-background-size: 7px 100%;
	-webkit-transform-origin: 0% 0%;
	-webkit-transform: rotateX(0deg);
}

#SwingBack .face.back {
	background-color: #fffccf;
	background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, right top, from(rgba(197, 204, 212, 0.5)), color-stop(0.75, rgba(197, 204, 212, 0.5)), color-stop(0.75, transparent), to(transparent)); 
	-webkit-background-size: 5px 100%;
	-moz-background-size: 7px 100%;
	-webkit-transform: rotateX(180deg);
	-webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
	-webkit-transform-origin: 0% 100%;
}
#SwingBack .face.front.swingBack  {
	-webkit-transform: rotateX(-180deg);	
}
#SwingBack .face.back.swingBack {
	-webkit-transform: rotateX(0deg);	
}

And here’s a working example online, or you can download the source. Enjoy.

What is HTML5?

If you ask 20 different people what HTML5 is you’ll probably get 20 different answers. It’s bandied about so much to convey more than it is. Simply put, HTML5 is just HTML cleaned up, simplified, but with some tags that finally make semantic sense. Because of that, with just a few CSS tweaks, browsers can properly render HTML and XHTML documents with HTML5 tags. All modern browsers will render HTML5 tags properly when included in regular HTML/XHTML documents.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
   <head>
      <meta charset="utf-8">
      <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width; height=device-height; initial-scale=1;">
      <title>My Kick Ass Web App</title>
   </head>
   <body>
      <article>
          <header>
             <h1>Article One</h1>
          </header>
          <aside><aside>
          <section></section>
          <section></section>
          <section></section>
          <footer></footer>
      </article>
      <article>
          <header>
             <h1>Article Two</h1>
          </header>
          <section></section>
          <section></section>
          <footer></footer>
      </article>
   </body>
</html>

All modern browsers can also render the canvas, audio and video tags of HTML5. When someone says that HTML5 is going to do [will in the blanks], you need to ask, “What do you mean by HTML5.” If the response is semantic markup, fine. If they mean audio and video tags, those are already here. Are they referring to Canvas and SVG, they have been around for a number of years. Are they referring to all the cool CSS3 stuff? That’s been around for a few years already. In general when you hear someone talking about how HTML5 is going to be such a big deal, or not, they probably referring to some mix of all of these. And that’s OK because HTML5 also supports all of these. But so does HTML/XHTML. Well, except for IE. It’s funny how we can send people into space, but here on earth there are people who still use IE.

The point is, we can use any of these in any combination right now. However, as with the uptake in XHTML and CSS based layout adoption at the start of the century (Wow! was it that long ago?), HTML5 combined with all these other features will be the future of Web develop. Actually, let me rephrase that, HTML5 will be the basis for a lot of connected application development. With HTML5 capable browser gaining the ability to render to GPU and enable offline modes such as local storage, the whole concept of a Web app verses a regular app will change to a point where the average user can’t tell the difference. Skilled designers and developers can already create Web apps that look and feel like native apps on iPhone, iPad, Adroid and Palm Pre. What the adoption of HTML5 will bring is the functionality of desktop type apps, leaving behind the limitations of the link/click Web site era.