HTML Page Layout

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I’ve been a big fan of “liquid layout”, where text in a web page increases width when you make the browser window wider.
In fact, it’s been a point of annoyance for me with
Debbie’s site.

The argument of the other side, “fixed-width layouts” is that fixed they give greater control over the look of the site, which is a fair point, in this day and age of limited screen resolution.
As screen resolutions climb however, it will break down.
Imagine someone looking at your site in ten years on a 8000×5000 monitor.
Your 600-pixel side column is going to look mighty silly, isn’t it?

Of course, fixed-width can be separated from pixels, simply by using “em”s instead of “px”s.
This way, if the user is viewing everything with 96 point text, your 20-em columns still look reasonable.

I ran across another option recently:
scaling text size according to the width of the window.
Pretty wild, eh?
Ran across this on
Simon Willison‘s
entry on
full page zoom.

I personally feel that “em”s are the only valid unit.
We cannot predict future display technologies.
We could all have 600 dpi monitors on flexible surfaces within 5 years.
That would make a 17” wide monitor be over 10,000 pixels wide!

Okay, I’ll stop raving now.
I really should post my notes on our Dominican trip anyway.
I saw Luisa typing her stuff up last night, and I can’t let her beat me to it! 🙂

the Net.

About rae

I'm a long-time Mac and iOS developer. I'm also a big fan of Ruby on Rails and relational databases. I tend to work remotely, in my basement with occasional trips to the office. I'm also a big videophile, both TV and film, and can't wait for a good, inexpensive home 4k solution.

3 comments on “HTML Page Layout

  1. wjr

    A few years ago, when I was still at PARC, I got hold of a Xerox-made LCD display that had a resolution of just under 300dpi – it was a 7Mpixel display, just over 2Kx3K, slightly smaller than a sheet of paper. Web browsing on this was interesting, as all of the fixed-width layouts displayed with about 3 words across each column, crammed in the leftmost few inches of the screen. So I’ve seen the future, and it sucked just like you predicted.

  2. Iain

    Wow! Very cool stuff. I would love to be able to browse sites that would adjust the text size as well as page layout settings. Make every individual component of the page fluid. Now that would be wicked!

  3. David "Fluid Page Brain" Barker

    Ditto, Iain. Wicked. Cool stuff. It puts the Science Fiction back in non-fiction. Well, it doesn’t really, but it’s close. Like Homo Floresiensis, water on Mars, and alien robots on Titan.

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