O'Reilly

Table Cell and Position Absolute

By on  

If you follow me on Twitter, you saw me rage about trying to make position: absolute work within a TD element or display: table-cell element.  Chrome?  Check.  Internet Explorer?  Check.  Firefox?  Ugh, FML.  I tinkered in the console...and cussed.  I did some researched...and I cussed more.  I found the 13 YEAR OLD ticket in Bugzilla...and threw Molotov cocktails into the street.  Luckily my whining on Twitter solicited an excellent solution from Andrew McGivery (@andrewmcgivery).  Check out the wonky solution that make this work!

The HTML

Here's the sample HTML we'll be using for this exercise:

<table >
	<tr>
		<td>
			<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua...</p>
		</td>
		<td>
			<div style="position:relative; overflow: auto; height: 100%;">
				<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.</p>
				<div style="position:absolute; bottom:0; right:0; background: yellow;">
					This will be positioned at 5,5 relative to the cell
				</div>
			</div>
		</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Alternatively you could use DIV elements with display: table-cell:

<div class="table">
	<div class="cell">
		<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 class="cell">
		<div style="position:relative; overflow: auto; height: 100%;">
				<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.</p>
				<div style="position:absolute; bottom:0; right:0; background: yellow;">
					This will be positioned at 5,5 relative to the cell
				</div>
			</div>
	</div>
</div>

Either of these examples will work.

The CSS

It turns out that pinning height: 100% on the way up the stack cures our absolute positioning blues:

table, tr { height: 100%; }

Here's the craziness with a DIV structure:

.table { display: table; }
.cell { display: table-cell; }
.table, .cell { height: 100%; }

Incredibly odd adding the 100% height to the container, yes?  Well, unfortunately that's what we'll need to do until the bug in Firefox is fixed.

As much as this type of bug annoys the hell out of us, these type of bugs separate the experts and novices.  Well done to Andrew for finding the solution to this heinous problem.  Keep this post handy as you may need it if that Firefox bug lasts another 13 years!

Track.js Error Reporting

Upcoming Events

Recent Features

Incredible Demos

  • Advanced CSS Printing &#8211; Using JavaScript Double-Click To Remove Unwanted DIVs

    Like any good programmer, I'm constantly searching around the internet for ideas and articles that can help me improve my code. There are thousands of talented programmers out there so I stumble upon some great articles and code snippets that I like to print out...

  • Unicode CSS Classes

    CSS class name structure and consistency is really important; some developers camelcase classnames, others use dashes, and others use underscores.  One thing I've learned when toying around by HTML and CSS class names is that you can actually use unicode symbols and icons as classnames....

Discussion

  1. A handy tip, but I’m curious as to why you would need to absolutely position within a table cell?

  2. MaxArt

    I’ve known that bug for *ages*… technologically speaking. It’s a shame for the Mozilla guys, if you ask me.
    The workaround is just a trick and doesn’t work in all the cases.
    I resolved to not use tables, or not use absolutely positioned elements inside it.

  3. SelenIT

    The Bugzilla ticket mentioned in the article is about relative positioning the table cell itself. Having this not fixed for 13 years could be excused because CSS2.1 spec says that ‘The effect of ‘position:relative’ on … table-cell, and table-caption elements is undefined.’ The problem here is that table cells with `position: relative` are not containing blocks for their absolutely positioned contents. It has its own Bugzilla ticket (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=63895), which also is 13 years old, but has no excuse in the spec. Please help make its priority higher with your votes!

  4. Hey, David have you checked it in ie is not working am using windows 8

  5. Nandan Kr Sahoo

    Hi,
    Thanks for created of Table Cell and Position Absolute.
    but it is not working IE Browser. can you please give me solution for IE browser.

    Thanks
    Nandan

  6. Blake

    I was just dealing with this issue last week :) There are 3 boxes laid out side by side that need to be the same height and have a button inside each box that is positioned absolutely to the bottom left.
    Here’s an example of just 1 box: http://codepen.io/rblakejohnson/pen/IfDyb

    And I’ve commented out the height:100% CSS and it seems to be working in Firefox!? But I remember messing with different ways of doing this last week and it not working in Firefox.
    Anyway, I wondered if you could shed some light on this and the extra div you have in your demo that has inline styles. It doesn’t seem to match up with the code examples you have in this article that only make it seem like your don’t need an extra div. Is the extra div necessary?

  7. Hello David,

    I’ve been ranting on this bug for quite some time as well :). I’ve tried to think inside the (flex)box for this one and created a flextable (for the lack of a better name :p). I now use flexbox, with css tables as fallback, only when the browser doesn’t support the new syntax (2013 = “display: flex”).

    This doesn’t require any additional html at all, which was one of my requirements as well.

    My code sample: http://codepen.io/kevinsmets/pen/AmDzh

    More info (forum post on css-tricks) here: http://css-tricks.com/forums/topic/flextable-flexbox-with-css-tables-fallback/

  8. mem

    I believe it doesn’t work when using images that need to shrink or grow, using max-width:

    cf. http://jsfiddle.net/u7knh/25/

  9. Carlos

    Great been looking for a solution for a while, this is the only one that worked for me. Thanks for sharing

  10. mast

    This solution doesn’t work and there’s actually a much simpler way:

    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/25223757/vertically-align-div-with-absolute-position/25228012#25228012

  11. Man, this was a great help. I found I had to add height="100%" to the table tag as well but this helped me solve a really complex layout. Thanks!

  12. Bill

    Hi David,

    Don’t cry, but your demo doesn’t work at all in Internet Explorer 11 (or any other version). Moo-hoo-hahaha!

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!

Recently on David Walsh Blog

  • Free Download: Font Bundle Featuring 17 Incredible Typefaces

    The only thing we love more than a good font, is a good free font. So we’ve combed the Web for some of our favorite free fonts, and gathered them here in a single download. You’ll find a variety of useful typefaces, from highly geometric designs...

  • OâReilly Velocity Conference â Amsterdam

    My favorite front-end conference has always been O'Reilly's Velocity Conference because the conference series has focused on one of the most undervalued parts of client side coding:  speed.  So often we're so excited that our JavaScript works that we forget that speed, efficiency, and performance are just as important. The next Velocity...

  • CanIUse Command Line

    Every front-end developer should be well acquainted with CanIUse, the website that lets you view browser support for browser features.  When people criticize my blog posts for not detailing browser support for features within the post, I tell them to check CanIUse:  always up to date, unlike...

  • Generating Alternative Stylesheets for Browsers Without @media

    If your CSS code is built with a mobile-first approach, it probably contains all the rules that make up the "desktop" view inside @media statements. That's great, but browsers that don't support media queries (IE 8 and below) will simply ignore them, ending up getting the...

  • Serve a Directory with PHP

    Many developers have a giggle at PHP, even looking down at the language, but let's be honest:  most of our blogs are powered by it (WordPress) and it's a great language to dabble around with.  I cut my teeth on PHP, though I prefer to avoid PHP these days. But...