Layout Tricks

When working with layouts, there are some tricks that we can use to notch things into place. These are just recommendations that help make things a bit easier:

Transparent Text

When working with layouts, text can be a bit distracting. Remember layout is easier when we think about things as a blocks instead of the content that the blocks contain. So, when starting out with broad strokes, I will often turn ALL the text on the page transparent, so that I then can focus on getting the box model correct.

* {
  color: transparent;

You Probably Mean position: absolute

When working with layouts and position, my rule is that if you find yourself using position: relative and moving things much more than a few px (1-3), you probably meant to use position: absolute instead. Remember position: relative moves from the normal static position, if you need to break out of the normal layout, you should use position: absolute.

I would say that 95% of the time I use position: relative, it is just to have something that I can use to compare child position: absolute elements.

Seeing What's Effecting position: absolute

When working on this book material, I thought "it's REALLY hard to know at a glance, what is being used to compare my position: absolute element". To help with this, I created a Chrome Extension that let's you visualize this.

By installing the "Find Absolute Positioning" extension, you can click on the icon and then as you mouse over elements that are position: absolute: it will add striped backgrounds to the first element that is effecting the position of your element.

Ugly Backgrounds

Seeing the box model for elements can be hard. So when I go to make layouts, I will often make a background a crazy background color. This helps me see the edges and where the element is on screen.

Play with Developer Tools

To get your layout perfectly in sync, try to inspect element: then go into the styles to tweak values (maybe even add new ones). This gives you realtime feedback so you can find your perfect fit.

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