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Emulating min-* and max-* CSS attributes in IE

clock September 17, 2009 23:44 by author Klemen Slavič

Sometimes designing a website requires you to limit the dimensions of a dynamically sized element without specifying an explicit width or height. CSS defines four basic attributes with which we can control such a behaviour:

  • min-width: defines the lower limit of width for the element
  • max-width: defines the upper limit  of width for the element
  • min-height: same as min-width, only for height
  • max-height: same as max-width, only for height

Using these attributes will work on all current browsers, but as always, Internet Explorer 6 dissapoints – it doesn't support the above attributes, thus ignoring any constraints.

The solution comes with a proprietary feature in IE's CSS engine – CSS expressions. Basically, they're Javascript expressions that you can use to set CSS attribute values. They are not part of the official CSS spec and will present themselves as errors to online validators, though.

As an example, let's take a simple <div> element we'd like to constrain the width dimension between 300px and 600px. It can be anywhere in the range of these two values, but not outside the range:

<div id="expando">
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

The standard CSS would look like the following:

#expando { min-width: 300px; max-width: 600px; }

To apply the CSS expression to the same element, we put in the following CSS declaration:

#expando {
    width: expression((expando.clientWidth > 600? 600 : (expando.clientWidth < 300? 300 : expando.clientWidth)) + "px");

This way, we've clamped down on the values using an expression, which is basically just Javascript that recalculates the width during the measuring phase.

Be warned though – this expression is evaluated whenever IE executes the measure phase of document redraw. In a complex and dynamic layout, this could dramatically slow down the page and cause spikes in CPU usage.

To limit this expression to IE6 and under (since later version support min-* and max-*), we put it in a separate CSS file and include it in the document using a conditional HTML comment inside the <head> element:

<!--[if lte IE 6]> <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="ie6.css"/><![endif]-->

That way, we only serve the CSS file to IE6 or earlier, thereby circumventing all other browsers and still validating the CSS.

A really simple Silverlight 2 PostIt application

clock June 16, 2009 22:45 by author Klemen Slavič

During the Silverlight 2.0 introductory course I held last week, we've chosen to implement a simple collaborative app as a summary of the entire curriculum.

The application contains an interface to display and manage PostIts on a collaborative message board. It is currently capable of consuming an input XML which displays PostIts and already has two-way binding implemented for the purposes of communicating with a Web Service to enable collaboration. The solution does not contain a Web Service provider nor does it currently try to send updates to the Web Service, but that will be upgraded in due time. ;)

This is the draft version of the application, which we've built during the course as an interactive demonstration. Comments are practically nonexistent, but will be added in future iterations, along with upgrades. It's a nice refresher/starter for anyone giving Silverlight 2 a go. Just unzip in a convenient location and open the solution file in Visual Studio 2008.

Note: You should have the Silverlight Tools 2.0 for Visual Studio 2008 installed prior to opening this solution. Read the Get Started Building Silverlight 2 Applications from Silverlight.net to prepare your Visual Studio 2008 to support Silverlight 2.

MyPostItApp.zip (1.40 mb)

About the author

Rok Bermež is Slovenian Windows Azure MVP, he works as a Software Engineer and Microsoft Certified Trainer at Kompas Xnet. His primary interests include cloud computing and web development. With extensive experience in development and architecture he participated in many projects and since the CTP release of Windows Azure much of those projects are based on Windows Azure platform. Rok has been delivering courses, writing code and speaking at conferences and community events on Microsoft technologies for the last couple of years. You can also find him on Twitter (@Rok_B).

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