[whatwg] Joined blocks

Tab Atkins Jr. jackalmage at gmail.com
Fri Aug 1 08:00:13 PDT 2008

On Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 7:28 AM, Russell Leggett
<russell.leggett at gmail.com>wrote:

> For what it's worth, Shannon, I totally agree with you. Not only is this
> something I have been wanted for a long time, but I think it belongs in the
> html. It's one thing if you just want columns, which is being covered here:
> http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-multicol/. The CSS covers that nicely, but there
> are times when the joined blocks are more remote and distinctly not columns,
> requiring the extra markup to control where it must join to. However, while
> useful for complex layouts, this is definitely the much smaller use case. I
> think it would make a great addition, but I suppose people have to have
> priorities! ;)
> -Russ

This is definitely and distinctly a CSS issue, not a HTML one.  The fact
that the contents of an element flow into another box elsewhere in the page
has nothing to do with the underlying structure of the data - it's still a
single cohesive element, and thus in html it would be marked up exactly as
normal.  You just happen to be displaying it differently.

As noted, CSS3 Multi-Column Layout directly addresses the wide use-case of
dynamic columns, which will be the most common need for this sort of thing.
However, it's certainly reasonable that one would want more than that, to
allow the contents of an element to flow to an arbitrary location elsewhere
on the page.  I could have sworn there was a flow-to property proposed in
one of the working drafts, but I couldn't find it, so it's possible it only
existed in my fevered imagination (it's also possible I was misremembering
the "named flows" feature in Generated Content for Paged Media [1]).  A
limited form of this property exists in the Paged Media section of the
Template Layout module [2], where you can specify a template that spans
across several pages.  If the contents of a slot would overflow, it instead
forces a page-break within the slot and flows onto the next page, filling
the slot of the same name.

I've got some ideas in this regard, but we should move it to the CSS list,
www-style at w3.org.


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-gcpm/#named1
[2] http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-layout/#templates
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