David Walsh Blog

Table Cell and Position Absolute

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!