Learn the Code (But Only What You Must)

We know. When you see words like “code,” mysterious acronyms like “HTML” or phrases like “Hypertext Markup Language,” your brain starts to buzz, little red warning flags start to wave and you turn away saying, “Yeeee … not interested.”
It’s a natural reaction if you’re poking into new territory. But you’ll be surprised how easy it is to sort out and understand high-tech alphabet soup with a little plain talk and clear explanation. In this step, we’ll look at HTML basics in three parts:
1. What is Hypertext Markup Language?
2. How Does It Work?
3. Understanding HTML Tools

Even if you’ve decided to let a pro take over your business Web site design, you’ll have more control over the look, content and function of your site with a basic knowledge of HTML.

What is Hypertext Markup Language?
Yes, it’s a new language to learn.

But HTML has been the basic framework of all Web design for as long as it’s existed, largely because it’s easy to understand.
It’s just words. Plain text, common words mixed with some special but simple “punctuation” marks.
You may be surprised to learn that every Web page, no matter how many slick tricks and graphics it has, is built on nothing but text. It’s like that old wizard behind the curtain: You don’t see him – unless you know where to look.
Go to a Web page you like and right-click your mouse on an empty space.

When a menu appears, look for “View Source” or “View Page Source” and left-click it.
A new screen appears, filled with plain English text and familiar punctuation marks – but arranged in a different way. (If it’s one long unbroken block of gobbledygook, pick another page. Whoever wrote the code didn’t bother to break the text into lines and sections for easy reading.)
This is HTML and it controls everything on that page – every sentence, every graphic, every link and form, every sound, all of it. Your Web browser reads this text and translates it into the visual, functional Web page.
It’s as user-friendly as code gets, and you don’t need anything more than a word processor or simple text editor – like Notepad – to write or manipulate it. And it works on any kind of computer with any operating system.

Tips and tricks

  • Let site visitors open a new browser window from a link: By adding a link on your Web site that opens another browser window, you can point your site visitors to other Web content without having them leave your Web site.
  • Add maps and directions to your site: Want to make it easy for customers to find your business? Add a map or driving directions to your business or other location on your Web site using the Map & Directions module.
  • Add a hit counter to your Web page: Hit counters keep a running total of the number of times that your page is viewed. They don’t distinguish between the number of times that you look at your page and when a customer looks at your page. However, they do give a visual clue about the pages most used pages on your site.
  • Add a scrolling marquee to your Web page: Use scrolling marquees to highlight new products, post breaking news about an award that your company received, or let customers know that a special offer is about to end.
  • Add a slide show to your site: Use a slide show to emphasize new products, to highlight products on sale, or even to display products that your customers might not usually find. You can create your own slide show with our tool or leverage your photos that you may already have on Flickr.
  • Add a PayPal Button: You can insert simple HTML code to display PayPal “BuyNow” buttons directly into our Web pages. To offer credit card or direct PayPal payments, you must sign up for PayPal Express.
  • Add an embedded video player to your site: You can embed one of several different video players in your Web page including Mydeo, YouTube, or Google video.

How Does It Work?
Text alone is just a collection of words. Once strung together in a sentence or paragraph, punctuation makes them understandable and gives them meaning.
In HTML, the punctuation marks are called “tags.” Here’s a simple example:
Say you want to add the line, “Is HTML really so easy?” as its own paragraph on your Web page. In Hypertext Markup Language, it looks like this:
<p>Is HTML really so easy?</p>
To give emphasis to a word using italics – “Is HTML really so easy?” – add another pair of tags:
<p>Is HTML <em>really</em> so easy?</p>
Now, to put the same word in boldface, add another pair of tags:
<p>Is HTML <em><strong>really</strong></em>so easy?</p>
When a Web browser reads that code, this will appear on your page:
Is HTML really so easy?
You’ll notice that for every tag, like <p> for the start of a paragraph, there is also a closing tag – in this case </p>, for end of paragraph – that includes the slash mark /. The italics tag <em> means “emphasis,” and <strong> means boldface. (Old school HTML uses <i> for italics and <b> for boldface, but working with the newer tags will prepare you for using CSS – or Cascading Style Sheets – for even more flexibility and functions). Of course there’s much more to this language than three pairs of tags – far too much to cover here. But if you want to keep going, these are great places to start:
• HTMLGoodies.com
•Web siteTips.com
•Jukka Korpela’s HTML Primer

Understanding HTML Tools
As we mentioned earlier, you really don’t need any special software or programs to work with HTML. Plenty of Web designers use nothing more than Microsoft Word to create HTML content.
Let’s decipher one more techie acronym here in case you run across it:

ASCII – say “ask-ee” – stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, the most common standard for handling text on computers. ASCII documents are basically text files, easily viewed and managed.

Because HTML works with any operating system – Windows, Mac, Linux – saving your HTML files in ASCII text format is the easiest and most effective way to go. In Microsoft Word, just choose “Simple Text,” “Text” or “Text Only” when it’s time to close and save your file.
Text editors are simpler than word processing programs, but cover your same needs for writing HTML. On PCs running the Windows or Vista operating system (or OS), you’ll find Notepad or WordPad built into all but the oldest versions; on Macs, it’s SimpleText.

There’s a big advantage, however, to getting an inexpensive program like the CoffeeCup HTML Editor, because it lets you easily switch between a text screen and a visual editor so you can see how your HTML looks on a Web page.

Hope we’ve taken the mystery out of this universal code.
It’s a language anybody can learn, there’s no secret handshake to join the worldwide society that uses it, and “speaking” even a little will give you more power over your new business Web site.
Maybe more than the competition.

CSS & HTML – Everything about Tables


Introduction to tables

Tables represent relationships between data. Authors specify these relationships in the document language and specify their presentation in CSS, in two ways: visually and aurally.

Authors may specify the visual formatting of a table as a rectangular grid of cells. Rows and columns of cells may be organized into row groups and column groups. Rows, columns, row groups, row columns, and cells may have borders drawn around them (there are two border models in CSS2). Authors may align data vertically or horizontally within a cell and align data in all cells of a row or column.

Authors may also specify the aural rendering of a table; how headers and data will be spoken. In the document language, authors may label cells and groups of cells so that when rendered aurally, cell headers are spoken before cell data. In effect, this “serializes” the table: users browsing the table aurally hear a sequence of headers followed by data.


Here is a simple three-row, three-column table described in HTML 4.0:

<CAPTION>This is a simple 3x3 table</CAPTION>
<TR id="row1">
   <TH>Header 1      <TD>Cell 1        <TD>Cell 2
<TR id="row2">
   <TH>Header 2      <TD>Cell 3        <TD>Cell 4
<TR id="row3">
   <TH>Header 3      <TD>Cell 5        <TD>Cell 6

This code creates one table (the TABLE element), three rows (the TR elements), three header cells (the TH elements), and six data cells (the TD elements). Note that the three columns of this example are specified implicitly: there are as many columns in the table as required by header and data cells. The following CSS rule centers the text horizontally
in the header cells and present the data with a bold font weight:

TH { text-align: center; font-weight: bold }

The next rules align the text of the header cells on their baseline and vertically centers the text in each data cell:

TH { vertical-align: baseline }
TD { vertical-align: middle }

The next rules specify that the top row will be surrounded by a 3px solid blue border and each of the other rows will be surrounded by a 1px solid black border:

TABLE   { border-collapse: collapse }
TR#row1 { border-top: 3px solid blue }
TR#row2 { border-top: 1px solid black }
TR#row3 { border-top: 1px solid black }

Note, however, that the borders around the rows overlap where the rows meet. What color (black or blue) and thickness (1px or 3px) will the border between row1 and row2 be? We discuss this in the section on border conflict resolution.

The following rule puts the table caption above the table:

CAPTION { caption-side: top }

Finally, the following rule specifies that, when rendered aurally, each row of data is to be spoken as a “Header, Data, Data”:

TH { speak-header: once }

For instance, the first row would be spoken “Header1 Cell1 Cell2”. On the other hand, with the following rule:

TH { speak-header: always }

it would be spoken “Header1 Cell1 Header1 Cell2”.

The preceding example shows how CSS works with HTML 4.0 elements; in HTML 4.0, the semantics of the various table elements (TABLE, CAPTION, THEAD, TBODY, TFOOT, COL, COLGROUP, TH, and TD) are well-defined. In other document languages (such as XML applications), there may not be pre-defined table elements. Therefore, CSS2 allows
authors to “map” document language elements to table elements via the ‘display’ property. For example, the following rule makes the FOO element act like an HTML
TABLE element and the BAR element act like a CAPTION element: FOO { display : table }

BAR { display : table-caption }

We discuss the various table elements in the following section. In this specification, the term table element refers to any element involved in the creation of a table. An “internal”
table element
is one that produces a row, row group, column, column group, or cell.

The CSS table model

The CSS table model is based on the HTML 4.0 table model, in which the structure of a table closely parallels the visual layout of the table. In this model, a table consists of an optional caption and any number of rows of cells. The table model is said to be “row primary” since authors specify rows, not columns, explicitly in the document language. Columns are derived once all the rows have been specified — the first cell of each row belongs to the first column, the second to the second column, etc.). Rows and columns may be grouped structurally and this grouping reflected in presentation (e.g., a border may
be drawn around a group of rows).

Thus, the table model consists of tables, captions, rows, row groups, columns, column groups, and cells.

The CSS model does not require that the document languageinclude elements that correspond to each of these components. For document languages (such as XML applications) that do not have pre-defined table elements, authors must map document language elements to table elements; this is done with the ‘display’property. The following ‘display’values assign table semantics to an arbitrary element:

table(In HTML: TABLE)
Specifies that an element defines a block-level table: it is a rectangular block that participates in a block formatting context.
inline-table (In HTML: TABLE)
Specifies that an element defines an inline-level table: it is a rectangular block that participates in an inline formatting context).
table-row(In HTML: TR)
Specifies that an element is a row of cells.

table-row-group (In HTML: TBODY)
Specifies that an element groups one or more rows.
table-header-group (In HTML: THEAD)
Like ‘table-row-group’, but for visual formatting, the row group is always displayed before all other rows and rowgroups and after any top captions. Print user agents may repeat footer rows on each page spanned by a table.
table-footer-group (In HTML: TFOOT)
Like ‘table-row-group’, but for visual formatting, the row group is always displayed after all other rows and rowgroups and before any bottom captions. Print user agents may repeat footer rows on each page spanned by a table.
table-column (In HTML: COL)
Specifies that an element describes a column of cells.

table-column-group (In HTML: COLGROUP)
Specifies that an element groups one or more columns.

table-cell (In HTML: TD, TH)
Specifies that an element represents a table cell.

table-caption (In HTML: CAPTION)
Specifies a caption for the table.

Elements with ‘display’ set to ‘table-column’ or ‘table-column-group’ are not rendered (exactly as if they had ‘display: none’), but they are useful, because they may have attributes which induce a certain style for the columns they represent.

The default style sheet for HTML 4.0 in the appendix illustrates the use of these values for HTML 4.0:

TABLE    { display: table }
TR       { display: table-row }
THEAD    { display: table-header-group }
TBODY    { display: table-row-group }
TFOOT    { display: table-footer-group }
COL      { display: table-column }
COLGROUP { display: table-column-group }
TD, TH   { display: table-cell }
CAPTION  { display: table-caption }

User agents may ignore these ‘display’ property values for HTML documents, since authors should not alter an element’s expected behavior.

 Anonymous table objects

Document languages other than HTML may not contain all the elements in the CSS2 table model. In these cases, the “missing” elements must be assumed in order for the table model to work. The missing elements generate anonymous objects (e.g., anonymous boxes in visual table layout) according to the following rules:

  1. Any table element will automatically generate necessary anonymous table objects around itself, consisting of at least three nested objects corresponding to a ‘table’/’inline-table’ element, a ‘table-row’ element, and a ‘table-cell’ element.
  2. If the parent P of a ‘table-cell’ element T is not a ‘table-row’, an object corresponding to a ‘table-row’ will be generated between P and T. This object will span all consecutive ‘table-cell’ siblings (in the document tree) of T.
  3. If the parent P of a ‘table-row’ element T is not a ‘table’, ‘inline-table’, or ‘table-row-group’ element, an object corresponding to a ‘table’ element will be
    generated between P and T. This object will span all consecutive siblings (in the document tree) of T that require a ‘table’ parent: ‘table-row’, ‘table-row-group’, ‘table-header-group’, ‘table-footer-group’, ‘table-column’, ‘table-column-group’, and ‘caption’.
  4. If the parent P of a ‘table-row-group’ (or ‘table-header-group’ or ‘table-footer-group’) element T is not a ‘table’ or ‘inline-table’, an object corresponding to a ‘table’ element will be generated between P and T. This object will span all consecutive siblings (in the document tree) of T that require a ‘table’ parent: ‘table-row’, ‘table-row-group’, ‘table-header-group’, ‘table-footer-group’, ‘table-column’, ‘table-column-group’, and ‘caption’.
  5. If a child T of a ‘table-row’ element P is not a ‘table-cell’ element, an object corresponding to a ‘table-cell’ element will be generated between P and T. This object spans all consecutive siblings of T that are not ‘table-cell’ elements.


In this XML example, a ‘table’ element is assumed to contain the HBOX element:


because the associated style sheet is:

HBOX { display: table-row }
VBOX { display: table-cell }


In this example, three ‘table-cell’ elements are assumed to contain the text in the ROWs. Note that the text is further encapsulated in anonymous inline boxes, as explained in visual formatting model:

  <ROW>This is the <D>top</D> row.</ROW>
  <ROW>This is the <D>middle</D> row.</ROW>
  <ROW>This is the <D>bottom</D> row.</ROW>

The style sheet is:

STACK { display: inline-table }
ROW   { display: table-row }
D     { display: inline; font-weight: bolder }

HTML user agents are not required to create anonymous objects according to the above rules.

Column selectors

Table cells may belong to two contexts: rows and columns. However, in the source document cells are descendants of rows, never of columns. Nevertheless, some aspects of cells can be influenced by setting properties on columns.

The following properties apply to column and column-group elements:

The various border properties apply to columns only if ‘border-collapse’ is set to
‘collapse’ on the table element. In that case, borders set on columns and column groups are input to the conflict resolution algorithm that selects the border styles at every cell edge.
The background properties set the background for cells in the column, but only if both the cell and row have transparent backgrounds
The ‘width’ property gives the minimum width for the column.
If the ‘visibility’ of a column is set to ‘collapse’, none of the cells in the column are rendered, and cells that span into other columns are clipped. In addition, the width of the table is diminished by the width the column would have taken up.  Other values for ‘visibility’ have no effect.


Here are some examples of style rules that set properties on columns. The first two rules together implement the “rules” attribute of HTML 4.0 with a value of “cols”. The third rule makes the “totals” column blue, the final two rules shows how to make a column a fixed
size, by using the fixed layout algorithm.

COL   { border-style: none solid }
TABLE { border-style: hidden }
COL.totals { background: blue }
TABLE { table-layout: fixed }
COL.totals { width: 5em }

Tables in the visual formatting model

In terms of the visual formatting model, a table may behave like a block-level or replaced inline-level element. Tables have content, padding, borders, and margins.

In both cases, the table element generates an anonymous box that contains the table box itself and the caption’s box (if present). The table and caption boxes retain their own content, padding, margin, and border areas, and the dimensions of the rectangular anonymous box are the smallest required to contain both. Vertical margins collapse where
the table box and caption box touch. Any repositioning of the table must move the entire anonymous box, not just the table box, so that the caption follows the table.

A table with a caption above it; both have margins and the margins between them are collapsed, as is normal for vertical margins.
Diagram of a table with a caption above it; the bottom margin of the caption is collapsed with the top margin of the table.

   Caption position and alignment

Value:top | bottom | left | right | inherit Initial:top Applies to:‘table-caption’ elements Inherited:yes Percentages:N/A Media:  visual

This property specifies the position of the caption box with respect to the table box. Values have the following meanings:

top  – Positions the caption box above the table box.
bottom – Positions the caption box below the table box.
left  – Positions the caption box to the left of the table box.
right – Positions the caption box to the right of the table box.

Captions above or below a ‘table’ element are formatted very much as if they were a block element before or after the table, except that (1) they inherit inheritable properties from the table, and (2) they are not considered to be a block box for the purposes of any ‘compact’ or ‘run-in’ element that may precede the table.

A caption that is above or below a table box also behaves like a block box for width calculations; the width is computed with respect to the width of the table box’s containing block.

For a caption that is on the left or right side of a table box, on the other hand, a value other than ‘auto’ for ‘width’ sets the width explicitly, but ‘auto’ tells the user agent to chose a “reasonable width”. This may vary between “the narrowest possible box” to “a single line”, so we recommend that users do not specify ‘auto’ for left and right caption widths.

To align caption content horizontally within the caption box, use the ‘text-align’ property. For vertical alignment of a left or right caption box with respect to the table box, use the ‘vertical-align’ property. The only meaningful values in this case are ‘top’, ‘middle’, and
‘bottom’. All other values are treated the same as ‘top’.


In this example, the ‘caption-side’ property places captions below tables. The caption will be as wide as the parent of the table, and caption text will be left-justified.

CAPTION { caption-side: bottom;
          width: auto;
          text-align: left }


The following example shows how to put a caption in the left margin. The table itself is centered, by setting its left and right margins to ‘auto’, and the whole box with table and caption is shifted into the left margin by the same amount as the width of the caption.

    margin-left: 8em
    margin-left: auto;
    margin-right: auto
    caption-side: left;
    margin-left: -8em;
    width: 8em;
    text-align: right;
    vertical-align: bottom

Assuming the width of the table is less than the available width,
the formatting will be similar to this:

A centered table with a caption in the left margin of the page
A centered table with a caption in the left margin of the page


Visual layout of table contents

Like other elements of the document language, internal table elements generate rectangular boxes with content, padding, and borders. They do not have margins, however.

The visual layout of these boxes is governed by a rectangular, irregular grid of rows and columns. Each box occupies a whole number of grid cells, determined according to the following rules. These rules do not apply to HTML 4.0 or earlier HTML versions; HTML imposes its own limitations on row and column spans.

  1. Each row box occupies one row of grid cells. Together, the row boxes fill the table from top to bottom in the order they occur in the source document (i.e., the table occupies exactly as many grid rows as there are row elements).
  2. A row group occupies the same grid cells as the rows it contains. A column box occupies one or more columns of grid cells. Column boxes are placed next to each other in the order they occur. The first column box may be either on the left or on the right, depending on the value of the ‘direction’ property of the table.
  3. A column group box occupies the same grid cells as the columns it contains.
  4. Cells may span several rows or columns. (Although CSS2 doesn’t define how the number of spanned rows or columns is determined, a user agent may have special knowledge about the source document; a future version of CSS may provide a way to express this knowledge in CSS syntax.) Each cell is thus a rectangular box, one or more grid cells wide and high. The top row of this rectangle is in the row specified
    by the cell’s parent. The rectangle must be as far to the left as possible, but it may not overlap with any other cell box, and must be to the right of all cells in the same row that are earlier in the source document. (This constraint holds if the ‘direction’ property of the table is ‘ltr’; if the ‘direction’ is ‘rtl’, interchange “left” and “right” in the previous sentence.)
  5. A cell box cannot extend beyond the last row box of a table or row-group; the user agents must shorten it until it fits.

Table cells may be relatively and absolutely positioned, but this is not recommended: positioning and floating remove a box from the flow, affecting table alignment.

Here are two examples. The first is assumed to occur in an HTML document:

<TR><TD>1 <TD rowspan="2">2 <TD>3 <TD>4
<TR><TD colspan="2">5

<ROW><CELL>1 <CELL rowspan="2">2 <CELL>3 <CELL>4
<ROW><CELL colspan="2">5

The second table is formatted as in the figure on the right. However, the HTML table’s rendering is explicitly undefined by HTML, and CSS doesn’t try to define it. User agents are free to render it, e.g., as in the figure on the left.

One table with overlapping cells and one without
One table with overlapping cells and one without

 On the left, one possible rendering of an erroneous HTML 4.0 table; on the right, the only
possible formatting of a similar, non-HTML table.

 Table layers and transparency

For the purposes of finding the background of each table cell, the different table elements may be thought of as being on six superimposed layers. The background set on an element in one of the layers will only be visible if the layers above it have a transparent

  1. The lowest layer is a single plane, representing the table box itself. Like all boxes, it may be transparent.
  2. The next layer contains the column groups. The columns groups are as tall as the table, but they need not cover the whole table horizontally.
  3. On top of the column groups are the areas representing the column boxes. Like column groups, columns are as tall as the table, but need not cover the whole table horizontally.
  4. Next is the layer containing the row groups. Each row group is as wide as the table. Together, the row groups completely cover the table from top to bottom.
  5. The next to last layer contains the rows. The rows also cover the whole table.
  6. The topmost layer contains the cells themselves. As the figure shows, although all rows contain the same number of cells, not every cell may have specified content. These “empty” cells are transparent, letting lower layers shine through.

In the following example, the first row contains four cells, but the second row contains no cells, and thus the table background shines through, except where a cell from the first row spans into this row. The following HTML code and style rules

    <STYLE type="text/css">
      TABLE { background: #ff0; border-collapse: collapse }
      TD    { background: red; border: double black }
        <TD> 1
        <TD rowspan="2"> 2
        <TD> 3
        <TD> 4

might be formatted as follows:

   Table with three empty cells in the bottom row.

 Table width algorithms:
the ‘table-layout’ property

CSS does not define an “optimal” layout for tables since, in many cases, what is optimal is a matter of taste. CSS does define constraints that user agents must respect when laying out a table. User agents may use any algorithm they wish to do so, and are free to prefer rendering speed over precision, except when the “fixed layout algorithm” is selected.

Value:auto | fixed | inherit Initial:auto Applies to:  ‘table’
and ‘inline-table’ elements
Inherited:no Percentages:N/A Media:  visual

The ‘table-layout’ property controls the algorithm used to lay out the table cells, rows,
and columns. Values have the following meaning:

Use the fixed table layout algorithm

Use any automatic table layout algorithm

The two algorithms are described below.

Fixed table layout

With this (fast) algorithm, the horizontal layout of the table does not depend on the contents of the cells; it only depends on the table’s width, the width of the columns, and borders or cell spacing. The table’s width may be specified explicitly with the ‘width’ property. A value of ‘auto’ (for both ‘display: table’ and ‘display: inline-table’) means use the automatic table layout algorithm.

In the fixed table layout algorithm, the width of each column is determined as follows:

  1. A column element with a value other than ‘auto’ for the ‘width’ property sets the width
    for that column.
  2. Otherwise, a cell in the first row with a value other than ‘auto’ for the ‘width’ property sets the width for that column. If the cell spans more than one column, the width is divided over the columns.
  3. Any remaining columns equally divide the remaining horizontal table space (minus borders or cell spacing).

The width of the table is then the greater of the value of the ‘width’ property for the table element and the sum of the column widths (plus cell spacing or borders). If the table is wider than the columns, the extra space should be distributed over the columns.

In this manner, the user agent can begin to lay out the table once the entire first row has been received. Cells in subsequent rows do not affect column widths. Any cell that has content that overflows uses the ‘overflow’ property to determine whether to clip the overflow content.

Automatic table layout

In this algorithm (which generally requires no more than two passes), the table’s width is given by the width of its columns (and intervening borders). This algorithm reflects the behavior of several popular HTML user agents at the writing of this specification. UAs are not required to implement this algorithm to determine the table layout in the case that ‘table-layout’ is ‘auto’; they can use any other algorithm.

This algorithm may be inefficient since it requires the user agent to have access to all the content in the table before determining the final layout and may demand more than one pass.

Column widths are determined as follows:

  1. Calculate the minimum content width (MCW) of each cell: the formatted content may span any number of lines but may not overflow the cell box. If the specified
    ‘width’ (W) of the cell is greater than MCW, W is the minimum cell width. A value
    of ‘auto’ means that MCW is the minimum cell width.Also, calculate the “maximum” cell width of each cell: formatting then content without breaking lines other than where explicit line breaks occur.
  2. For each column, determine a maximum and minimum column width from the cells that span only that column. The minimum is that required by the cell with the largest minimum cell width (or the column ‘width’, whichever is larger). The maximum is that required by the cell with the largest maximum cell width (or the column ‘width’,
    whichever is larger).
  3. For each cell that spans more than one column, increase the minimum widths of the columns it spans so that together, they are at least as wide as the cell. Do the same for the maximum widths. If possible, widen all spanned columns by approximately the same amount.This gives a maximum and minimum width for each column.

Column widths influence the final table width as follows:

  1. If the ‘table’ or ‘inline-table’ element’s ‘width’ property has a specified value (W)
    other than ‘auto’, the property’s computed value is the greater of W and the minimum width required by all the columns plus cell spacing or borders (MIN). If W is greater than MIN, the extra width should be distributed over the columns.
  2. If the ‘table’ or ‘inline-table’ element has ‘width: auto’, the computed table width is the greater of the table’s containing block width and MIN. However, if the maximum width required by the columns plus cell spacing or borders (MAX) is less than that of the containing block, use MAX.

A percentage value for a column width is relative to the table width. If the table has ‘width: auto’, a percentage represents a constraint on the column’s width, which a UA should try to satisfy. (Obviously, this is not always possible: if the column’s width is ‘110%’, the constraint cannot be satisfied.)

Note. In this algorithm, rows (and row groups) and columns (and column groups) both constrain and are constrained by the dimensions of the cells they contain. Setting the
width of a column may indirectly influence the height of a row, and vice versa.

 Table height algorithms

The height of a table is given by the ‘height’ property for the ‘table’ or ‘inline-table’ element. A value of ‘auto’ means that the height is the sum of the row heights plus any cell spacing or borders. Any other value specifies the height explicitly; the table may thus be taller or
shorter than the height of its rows. CSS2 does not specify rendering when the specified table height differs from the content height, in particular whether content height should override specified height; if it doesn’t, how extra space should be distributed among rows that add up to less than the specified table height; or, if the content height exceeds the specified table height, whether the UA should provide a scrolling mechanism. Note. Future versions of CSS may specify this further.

The height of a ‘table-row’ element’s box is calculated once the user agent has all the cells in the row available: it is the maximum of the row’s specified ‘height’ and the minimum height (MIN) required by the cells. A ‘height’ value of ‘auto’ for a ‘table-row’ means the computed row height is MIN. MIN depends on cell box heights and cell box alignment (much like the calculation of a line box height). CSS2 does not define what percentage values of ‘height’ refer to when specified for table rows and row groups.

In CSS2, the height of a cell box is the maximum of the table cell’s ‘height’ property and the
minimum height required by the content (MIN). A value of ‘auto’ for ‘height’ implies a computed value of MIN. CSS2 does not define what percentage values of ‘height’ refer to when specified for table cells.

CSS2 does not specify how cells that span more than row affect row height calculations except that the sum of the row heights involved must be great enough to encompass the cell spanning the rows.

The ‘vertical-align’ property of each table cell determines its alignment within the row.
Each cell’s content has a baseline, a top, a middle, and a bottom, as does the row itself. In the context of tables, values for ‘vertical-align’ have the following meanings:

The baseline of the cell is put at the same height as the baseline of the first of the rows it spans (see below for the definition of baselines of cells and rows).
The top of the cell box is aligned with the top of the first row it spans.
The bottom of the cell box is aligned with the bottom of the last row it spans.
The center of the cell is aligned with the center of the rows it spans.
sub, super, text-top, text-bottom
These values do not apply to cells; the cell is aligned at the baseline instead.

The baseline of a cell is the baseline of the first line box in the cell. If there is no text, the baseline is the baseline of whatever object is displayed in the cell, or, if it has none, the
bottom of the cell box. The maximum distance between the top of the cell box and the baseline over all cells that have ‘vertical-align: baseline’ is used to set the baseline of the row. Here is an example:

Diagram showing the effect of various values of 'vertical-align' on table cells.

Cell boxes 1 and 2 are aligned at their baselines. Cell box 2 has the largest height above the baseline, so that determines the baseline of the row. Note that if there is no cell box aligned at its baseline, the row will not have (nor need) a baseline.

To avoid ambiguous situations, the alignment of cells proceeds in the following order:

  1. First the cells that are aligned on their baseline are positioned. This will establish the baseline of the row. Next the cells with ‘vertical-align: top’ are positioned.
  2. The row now has a top, possibly a baseline, and a provisional height, which is the distance from the top to the lowest bottom of the cells positioned so far. (See conditions on the cell padding below.)
  3. If any of the remaining cells, those aligned at the bottom or the middle, have a height that is larger than the current height of the row, the height of the row will be increased to the maximum of those cells, by lowering the bottom.
  4. Finally the remaining cells are positioned.

Cell boxes that are smaller than the height of the row receive extra top or bottom padding.

 Horizontal alignment in a column

The horizontal alignment of a cell’s content within a cell box is specified with the ‘text-align’ property. When the ‘text-align’ property for more than one cell in a column is set to a <string> value, the content of those cells is aligned along a vertical axis. The beginning of the string touches this axis. Character directionality determines whether the string lies to the left or right of the axis. Aligning text in this way is only useful if the text fits on one
line. The result is undefined if the cell content spans more than one line.

If value of ‘text-align’ for a table cell is a string but the string doesn’t occur in the cell
content, the end of the cell’s content touches the vertical axis of alignment.

Note that the strings do not have to be the same for each cell, although they usually are.

CSS does not provide a way specify the offset of the vertical alignment axis with respect to the edge of a column box.


The following style sheet:

   TD { text-align: "." }
   TD:before { content: "$" }

will cause the column of dollar figures in the following HTML table:

  <COL width="40">
  <TR> <TH>Long distance calls
  <TR> <TD> 1.30
  <TR> <TD> 2.50
  <TR> <TD> 10.80
  <TR> <TD> 111.01
  <TR> <TD> 85.
  <TR> <TD> 90
  <TR> <TD> .05
  <TR> <TD> .06

to align along the decimal point. For fun, we have used the :before pseudo-element to insert a dollar sign before each figure. The table might be rendered as follows:

Long distance calls

 Dynamic row and column effects

The ‘visibility’ property takes the value ‘collapse’ for row, row group, column, and column
group elements. This value causes the entire row or column to be removed from the display, and the space normally taken up by the row or column to be made available for other content. The suppression of the row or column, however, does not otherwise affect the layout of the table. This allows dynamic effects to remove table rows or columns
without forcing a re-layout of the table in order to account for the potential change in column constraints.


There are two distinct models for setting borders on table cells in CSS. One is most suitable for so-called separated borders around individual cells,  the other is suitable for borders that are continuous from one end of the table to the other. Many border styles can be achieved with either model, so it is often a matter of taste which one is used.

Value:collapse | separate | inherit Initial:collapse Applies to:‘table’ and ‘inline-table’ elements Inherited:yes Percentages:N/A Media:  visual

This property selects a table’s border model. The value ‘separate’ selects the separated borders border model. The value ‘collapse’ selects the collapsing borders model. The models are described below.

 The separated borders model

Value:<length> <length>? | inherit Initial:0 Applies to:  ‘table’
and ‘inline-table’ elements
Inherited:yes Percentages:N/A Media:  visual

The lengths specify the distance that separates adjacent cell borders. If one length is specified, it gives both the horizontal and vertical spacing. If two are specified, the first gives the horizontal spacing and the second the vertical spacing. Lengths may not be

In this model, each cell has an individual border. The ‘border-spacing’ property specifies the distance between the borders of adjacent cells. This space is filled with the background of the table element. Rows, columns, row groups, and column groups cannot have borders (i.e., user agents must ignore the border properties for those elements).


The table in the figure below could be the result of a style sheet like this:

  TABLE      { border: outset 10pt;
               border-collapse: separate;
               border-spacing: 15pt }
  TD         { border: inset 5pt }
  TD.special { border: inset 10pt }  /* The top-left cell */


A table with ‘border-spacing’ set to a length value. Note that each cell has its own border, and the table has a separate border as well.

Borders around empty cells: the ’empty-cells’ property

Value:show | hide | inherit Initial:show Applies to:  ‘table-cell’
Inherited:yes Percentages:N/A Media:  visual

In the separated borders model, this property controls the rendering of borders around cells that have no visible content. Empty cells and cells with the ‘visibility’ property set to
‘hidden’ are considered to have no visible content. Visible content includes “&nbsp;” and other whitespace except ASCII CR (“D”), LF (“A”), tab (“9”), and space (“20”).

When this property has the value ‘show’, borders are drawn around empty cells (like normal cells).

A value of ‘hide’ means that no borders are drawn around empty cells. Furthermore, if all the cells in a row have a value of ‘hide’ and have no visible content, the entire row behaves as if it had ‘display: none’.


The following rule causes borders to be drawn around all cells:

TABLE { empty-cells: show }

 The collapsing border model

In the collapsing border model, it is possible to specify borders that surround all or part of a cell, row, row group, column, and column group. Borders for HTML’s “rule” attribute can be
specified this way.

Borders are centered on the grid lines between the cells. User agents must find a consistent rule for rounding off in the case of an odd number of discrete units (screen pixels, printer dots).

The diagram below shows how the width of the table, the widths of the borders, the padding, and the cell width interact. Their relation is given by the following equation, which holds for every row of the table:

row-width = (0.5 * border-width0) +
padding-left1 + width1 +
padding-right1 +
border-width1 +
padding-left2 +…+
padding-rightn +
(0.5 * border-widthn)

Here n is the number of cells in the row, and border-widthi refers to the border between cells i and i + 1. Note only half of the two exterior borders are counted in the table width;
the other half of these two borders lies in the margin area.

Schema showing the widths of cells and borders and the padding of cells.
Schema showing the widths of cells and borders and the padding of cells.

   Note that in this model, the width of the table includes half the table border. Also, in this model, a table doesn’t have padding (but does have margins).

Border conflict resolution

In the collapsing border model, borders at every edge of every cell may be specified by border properties on a variety of elements that meet at that edge (cells, rows, row groups, columns, column groups, and the table itself), and these borders may vary in width, style, and color. The rule of thumb is that at each edge the most “eye catching” border style is chosen, except that any occurrence of the style ‘hidden’ unconditionally turns the border off.

The following rules determine which border style “wins” in case of a conflict:

  1. Borders with the ‘border-style’ of ‘hidden’ take precedence over all other conflicting borders. Any border with this value suppresses all borders at this location.
  2. Borders with a style of ‘none’ have the lowest priority. Only if the border properties of all the elements meeting at this edge are ‘none’ will the border be omitted (but note that ‘none’ is the default value for the border style.)
  3. If none of the styles is ‘hidden’ and at least one of them is not ‘none’, then narrow borders are discarded in favor of wider ones. If several have the same ‘border-width’ than styles are preferred in this order: ‘double’, ‘solid’, ‘dashed’, ‘dotted’, ‘ridge’, ‘outset’, ‘groove’, and the lowest: ‘inset’. If border styles differ only in color, then a style set on a cell wins over one on a row, which wins over a row group, column, column group and, lastly, table.


The following example illustrates the application of these precedence rules. This style sheet:

  TABLE          { border-collapse: collapse;
                   border: 5px solid yellow; }
  *#col1         { border: 3px solid black; }
  TD             { border: 1px solid red; padding: 1em; }
  TD.solid-blue  { border: 5px dashed blue; }
  TD.solid-green { border: 5px solid green; }

with this HTML source:

<COL id="col1"><COL id="col2"><COL id="col3">
<TR id="row1">
    <TD> 1
    <TD> 2
    <TD> 3
<TR id="row2">
    <TD> 4
    <TD class="solid-blue"> 5
    <TD class="solid-green"> 6
<TR id="row3">
    <TD> 7
    <TD> 8
    <TD> 9
<TR id="row4">
    <TD> 10
    <TD> 11
    <TD> 12
<TR id="row5">
    <TD> 13
    <TD> 14
    <TD> 15

would produce something like this:

  An example of a table with collapsed borders.


The next example shows a table with horizontal rules between the rows. The top border of the table is set to ‘hidden’ to suppress the top border of the first row. This implements the “rules” attribute of HTML 4.0 (rules=”rows”).

TABLE[rules=rows] TR { border-top: solid }
TABLE[rules=rows]    { border-collapse: collapse;
                       border-top: hidden }

  Table with horizontal rules between the

In this case the same effect can also be achieved without setting a ‘hidden’ border on TABLE, by addressing the first row separately. Which method is preferred is a matter of taste.

TR:first-child { border-top: none }
TR { border-top: solid }


Here is another example of hidden collapsing borders:

   Table with two omitted internal borders.

HTML source:

<TABLE style="border-collapse: collapse; border: solid;">
<TR><TD style="border-right: hidden; border-bottom: hidden">foo</TD>
    <TD style="border: solid">bar</TD></TR>
<TR><TD style="border: none">foo</TD>
    <TD style="border: solid">bar</TD></TR>

Border styles

Some of the values of the ‘border-style’ have different meanings in tables than for other elements. In the list below they are marked with an asterisk.

No border.

Same as ‘none’, but in the collapsing border model, also inhibits any other border (see the section on border conflicts).
The border is a series of dots.

The border is a series of short line segments.

The border is a single line segment.

The border is two solid lines. The sum of the two lines and the space between them equals the value of ‘border-width’.
The border looks as though it were carved into the canvas.

The opposite of ‘grove’: the border looks as though it were coming out of the canvas.
In the separated borders model, the border makes the entire box look as though
it were embedded in the canvas. In the collapsing border model, same as ‘groove’.
In the separated borders model, the border makes the entire box look as though
it were coming out of the canvas. In the collapsing border model, same as ‘ridge’.

Audio rendering of tables

When a table is spoken by a speech generator, the relation between the data cells and the header cells must be expressed in a different way than by horizontal and vertical alignment. Some speech browsers may allow a user to move around in the 2-dimensional space, thus giving them the opportunity to map out the spatially represented relations. When that is not possible, the style sheet must specify at which points the headers are spoken.

 Speaking headers: the ‘speak-header’ property

Value:once | always | inherit Initial:once Applies to:  elements that
have table header information
Inherited:yes Percentages:N/A Media:  aural

This property specifies whether table headers are spoken before every cell, or only before a cell when that cell is associated with a different header than the previous cell. Values have the following meanings:

The header is spoken one time, before a series of cells.
The header is spoken before every pertinent cell.

Each document language may have different mechanisms that allow authors to specify headers. For example, in HTML 4.0, it is possible to specify header information with three different attributes (“headers”, “scope”, and “axis”), and the specification gives an algorithm for determining header information when these attributes have not been specified.

Image of a table with header cells ("San Jose" and "Seattle") that are not in the same column or row as the data they apply to.
Image of a table with header cells ("San Jose" and "Seattle") that are not in the same column or row as the data they apply to.

This HTML example presents the money spent on meals, hotels and transport in two locations (San Jose and Seattle) for successivedays. Conceptually, you can think of the table in terms of a n-dimensional space. The headers of this space are: location, day, category and subtotal. Some cells define marks along an axis while others give money spent at points within this space. The markup for this table is:

<CAPTION>Travel Expense Report</CAPTION>
  <TH id="san-jose" axis="san-jose">San Jose</TH>
  <TH headers="san-jose">25-Aug-97</TH>
  <TH headers="san-jose">26-Aug-97</TH>
  <TH headers="san-jose">subtotal</TH>
  <TH id="seattle" axis="seattle">Seattle</TH>
  <TH headers="seattle">27-Aug-97</TH>
  <TH headers="seattle">28-Aug-97</TH>
  <TH headers="seattle">subtotal</TH>

By providing the data model in this way, authors make it possible for speech enabled-browsers to explore the table in rich ways, e.g., each cell could be spoken as a list, repeating the applicable headers before each data cell:

  San Jose, 25-Aug-97, Meals:  37.74
  San Jose, 25-Aug-97, Hotels:  112.00
  San Jose, 25-Aug-97, Transport:  45.00

The browser could also speak the headers only when they change:

San Jose, 25-Aug-97, Meals: 37.74
    Hotels: 112.00
    Transport: 45.00
  26-Aug-97, Meals: 27.28
    Hotels: 112.00

CSS Media Types @media

Introduction to media types

One of the most important features of style sheets is that they specify how a document is to be presented on different media: on the screen, on paper, with a speech synthesizer, with a braille device, etc.

Certain CSS properties are only designed for certain media (e.g., the ‘cue-before’ property for aural user agents). On occasion, however, style sheets for different media types may share a property, but require different values for that property. For example, the ‘font-size’ property is useful both for screen and print media. However, the two media are different
enough to require different values for the common property; a document will typically need a larger font on a computer screen than on paper. Experience also shows that sans-serif fonts are easier to read on screen, while fonts with serifs are easier to read on paper. For
these reasons, it is necessary to express that a style sheet — or a section of a style sheet — applies to certain media types.

Specifying media-dependent style sheets

There are currently two ways to specify media dependencies for style sheets:

  • Specify the target medium from a style sheet with the @media or @import at-rules.


    @import url("loudvoice.css") aural;
    @media print {
      /* style sheet for print goes here */
  • Specify the target medium within the document language. For example, in HTML 4.0, the “media” attribute on the LINK element specifies the target media of an external style sheet:
          <TITLE>Link to a target medium</TITLE>
          <LINK rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"
    	 media="print, handheld" href="foo.css">
          <P>The body...

The @media rule

An @media rule specifies the target media types(separated by commas) of a set of rules (delimited by curly braces). The @media construct allows style sheet rules for various media in the same style sheet:

  @media print {
    BODY { font-size: 10pt }
  @media screen {
    BODY { font-size: 12pt }
  @media screen, print {
    BODY { line-height: 1.2 }

Recognized media types

A CSS media type names a set of CSS properties. A user agent that claims to support a media type by name must implement all of the properties that apply to that media type.

The names chosen for CSS media types reflect target devices for which the relevant properties make sense. In the following list of CSS media types, the parenthetical descriptions are not normative. They only give a sense of what device the media type is meant to refer to.

Suitable for all devices.

Intended for speech synthesizers. 
Intended for braille tactile feedback devices.

Intended for paged braille printers.

Intended for handheld devices (typically small screen, monochrome, limited bandwidth).
Intended for paged, opaque material and for documents viewed on screen in print preview mode. 
Intended for projected presentations, for example projectors or print to transparencies.
Intended primarily for color computer screens.

Intended for media using a fixed-pitch character grid, such as teletypes, terminals, or portable devices with limited display capabilities. Authors should not use pixel unitswith the “tty” media type.
Intended for television-type devices (low resolution, color, limited-scrollability screens, sound available).

Media type names are case-insensitive.

Due to rapidly changing technologies, CSS2 does not specify a definitive list of media types that may be values for @media.

Future versions of CSS may extend this list. Authors should not rely on media type names that are not yet defined by a CSS specification.

Media groups

Each CSS property definition specifies the media types for which the property must be implemented by a conforming user agent. Since properties generally apply to several media, the “Applies to media” section of each property definition lists media groups rather than individual media types. Each property applies to all media types in the media groups listed in its definition.

CSS2 defines the following media groups:

  • continuous or paged.
    “Both” means that the property in question applies to both media groups.
  • visual, aural, or tactile.
  • grid (for character grid devices), or bitmap.
    “Both” means that the property in question applies to both media groups.
  • interactive (for devices that allow user interaction), or static (for those that don’t).
    “Both” means that the property in question applies to both media groups.
  • all
    (includes all media types)

The following table shows the relationships between media groups and media types:

Relationship between media groups and media types
Media Types
Media Groups
 continuous/pagedvisual/aural/tactilegrid/bitmapinteractive/static aural
visual, aural

Response.Redirect in Classic ASP

Response Object and HTML Encoding

The response object is often used in conjunction with various kinds of coding schemes. No discussion of response would be complete without a discussion of how to “handle” or “escape” special characters. This sample script demonstrates common conversion and transformation commands that make sense to use with the response.write command:

<title>Response object</title>
</head><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
' The response object can be used to write text
' but sometimes some functions must be used to transform
' the text instead of sending as is to the browser

response.write "<B>Hyperion</b> by <I>Dan Simmons</i> is a great novel"
response.write "<p>"
response.write server.htmlencode("<B>Hyperion</b> by <I>Dan Simmons</i> is a great novel")
response.write "<p>"

response.write "Joe Smith & Hilda = a team"
response.write "<p>"
response.write server.URLencode("Joe Smith & Hilda = a team")


Response Object – Redirects

The response object can be used to decide what page to send a user to next. Specifically the response.redirect method will work in that capacity. We have made a script formjump.asp that takes advantage of this.

</head><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
<form action="FormJumpRespond.asp" method="get">
<SELECT NAME="wheretogo">
<OPTION value="news">Daily News</OPTION>
<OPTION value="docs">ASP IIS3 Roadmap/Docs</OPTION>
<OPTION value="main">MainPage of ActiveServerPages.com</OPTION>
<OPTION value="sample">IIS 3 Sample ASP scripts</OPTION>
<input type=submit value="Choose Destination">
The responder that reacts to this form is:

<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
' My ASP program that redirects to URL
Select Case where
case "main"
response.redirect thisURL & "/"
case "samples"
response.redirect thisURL & "/aspsamp/samples/samples.htm"
case "docs"
response.redirect thisURL & "/iasdocs/aspdocs/roadmap.asp"
case "news"
response.redirect "http://www.cnn.com"
case "fun"
response.redirect "http://www.dilbert.com"
End Select
response.write "All dressed up and I don't know where to go<br>"
response.write "I recommend --> " & "<br>"
response.write server.htmlencode(thisURL & "/learn/test/res2.asp?where=fun") & "<br>"
response.write "for a good laugh!" & "<P>"

Hover and Active in IE CSS Specification

Pseudo-Classes Fix for Internet Explorer

Despite the fact that it has been almost six years since CSS 2 specification became a W3C recommendation, Internet Explorer, the dominating browser that is being forced
onto unsuspecting public my Microsoft Corporation, still fails to implement pseudo-classes, such as :hover and :active, for all but anchor elements.

Majority of web developers redeem this problem by polluting thier HTML with endless onmouseover and onmouseout handlers. Very few realize that the time Microsoft could not find to create a compliant browser was wasted on development of proprietory features, which often are the way to work around those limitations. In this particular case, while :hover and :active pseudo-classes do not behave as we expect them to on all but
one element, there are Internet Explorer Behaviors to add the desired functionality with little extra work. The scripting of the behavior goes into a separate .htc file which compliant
browsers would not ever see:

<PUBLIC:ATTACH EVENT="onmouseover" ONEVENT="DoHover()" />
<PUBLIC:ATTACH EVENT="onmouseout"  ONEVENT="RestoreHover()" />
<PUBLIC:ATTACH EVENT="onmousedown" ONEVENT="DoActive()" />
<PUBLIC:ATTACH EVENT="onmouseup"   ONEVENT="RestoreActive()" />

function DoHover()
  { element.className += ' hover';

function DoActive()
{ element.className += ‘ active’;

function RestoreHover()
{ element.className = element.className.replace(/bhoverb/,”);

function RestoreActive()
{ element.className = element.className.replace(/bactiveb/,”);

The behavior is attached to the desired elements using CSS declaration:

button, tr, td
  { behavior: url('IEFixes.htc');

The .hover and .active classes to be used by IE are
declared along with the :hover and :active pseudo-classes:

button:active, button.active
  { /*Active styles here */}
button:hover, button.hover
  { /*Hover styles here */}

Examples that use hover and active styling


Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
Cell 1:1 Cell 1:2 Cell 1:3
Cell 2:1 Cell 2:2 Cell 2:3
Cell 3:1 Cell 3:2 Cell 3:3

Scroll to bottom of a div

Allow user to scroll and maintain position with “Scroll To Bottom of the  Div” example

Well I am getting tired of being emailed the same question about my entry Scroll To Bottom of a Div. So I sat down in a few minutes I  came up with this. My first attempt used onscroll, but it Opera appears to not  supporet onscroll on a div. So I had to twidle my thumbs and realized I just had  to use the last know position as a reference. Duh…

So how do I keep the scroll position of a div if the user scrolls it and also  allow for it to stick to the bottom?

Put this code in your head:

  var chatscroll = new Object();

  chatscroll.Pane = function(scrollContainerId){
    this.bottomThreshold = 20;
    this.scrollContainerId = scrollContainerId;
    this._lastScrollPosition = 100000000;

  chatscroll.Pane.prototype.activeScroll = function(){

    var _ref = this;
    var scrollDiv = document.getElementById(this.scrollContainerId);
    var currentHeight = 0;

    var _getElementHeight = function(){
      var intHt = 0;
      if(scrollDiv.style.pixelHeight)intHt = scrollDiv.style.pixelHeight;
      else intHt = scrollDiv.offsetHeight;
      return parseInt(intHt);

    var _hasUserScrolled = function(){
      if(_ref._lastScrollPosition == scrollDiv.scrollTop || _ref._lastScrollPosition == null){
        return false;
      return true;

    var _scrollIfInZone = function(){
      if( !_hasUserScrolled ||
          (currentHeight - scrollDiv.scrollTop - _getElementHeight() <= _ref.bottomThreshold)){
          scrollDiv.scrollTop = currentHeight;
          _ref._isUserActive = false;

    if (scrollDiv.scrollHeight > 0)currentHeight = scrollDiv.scrollHeight;
    else if(scrollDiv.offsetHeight > 0)currentHeight = scrollDiv.offsetHeight;


    _ref = null;
    scrollDiv = null;


Create a new instance with the name of the div;

var divScroll = new chatscroll.Pane('divExample');

When ever you add something to the div call the method activeScroll


And the magic will occur.

I tested this on Win XP with IE6, Firefox 1.5, Netscape 8.04, Mozilla 1.7.12,  and Opera 8.5.1 with no issues. My MAC testers came through: Safari 2.0.4,  Camino 1.0.2int, Firefox, and Opera 9.0.1 are good. Minor issue with  Opera 8.52 and touchpad. I don’t think that is a show stopper.

Eric Pascarello Coauthor of Ajax In Action Moderator of HTML/JavaScript at www.JavaRanch.com Author of: JavaScript: Your Visual Blueprint for building Dynamic  Web Pages

All about conditional comments

One of the most common operations performed in a Web page is to detect the  browser type and version. Browser detection is performed to ensure that the  content presented to the browser is compatible and renders correctly. The  browser type can be detected using many different techniques. Most methods of  browser detection make use of script on the server or client.

This article introduces conditional comments, which offer certain advantages  over scripted browser detection techniques. Conditional comments make it easy  for developers to take advantage of the enhanced features offered by Microsoft  Internet Explorer 5 and later versions, while writing pages that downgrade  gracefully in less-capable browsers or display correctly in browsers other than  Windows Internet Explorer. Conditional comments are the preferred means of  differentiating Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) rules intended for specific  versions of Internet Explorer.


The following terms are used in this article.

Term Description
expression A combination of operators, features, and/or values used to form a       conditional statement.
downlevel browser Any browser except Internet Explorer 5 and later versions. For the       purposes of this article, downlevel refers specifically to any       browser or browser version that does not support conditional comments.
uplevel browser Internet Explorer 5 and later versions, which support conditional       comments.
downlevel-hidden A conditional comment block that is ignored by downlevel       browsers. Internet Explorer 5 and later versions render the HTML content       if the expression evaluates to true.
downlevel-revealed A conditional comment block that is parsed by downlevel       browsers. Internet Explorer 5 and later versions also render the HTML       content if the expression evaluates to true.

Benefits of Using Conditional Comments

Conditional comments have certain advantages over scripting methods of  browser detection.

  • Low client-side impact.When a downlevel browser encounters a downlevel-hidden conditional comment,   the browser skips over the HTML inside the comment, and the content elements   are not parsed, downloaded, or rendered. This saves client machine   resources.
  • No script required.Conditional comments do not require scripting and DHTML, and when no   scripting is used in a Web page, no scripting engine needs to be loaded.   Conditional comments are processed during the downloading and parsing phase,   so only the content that is targeted for the browser is actually downloaded.   Conditional comments can be combined freely with other browser detection   techniques.
  • Separate code from detection logic.Using conditional comments, script logic can be separated into smaller and   simpler segments of code, which are easier to maintain and understand. Plus,   code segments are loaded only by the browser version for which they were   intended.
  • Cross-browser.Conditional comments have been around since Internet Explorer 5, but their   use is not restricted to Internet Explorer alone. Conditional comments can be   used to customize content delivered to browsers that support conditional   comments and those that do not.

Syntax of Conditional Comments

The basic syntax of each type of comment is shown in the following table. The  first comment shown is the basic HTML Comment, which is included for the purpose of comparison and to illustrate  the different syntax used by each type of conditional comment.

Comment type Syntax or possible value
standard HTML comment <!– Comment content  –>
downlevel-hidden <!–[if expression]> HTML <![endif]–>
downlevel-revealed <![if expression]> HTML   <![endif]>

The HTML shown inside the syntax block in each of the conditional  comments denotes any block of HTML content, including script. Both types of  conditional comment use a conditional expression to indicate whether the  content inside the comment block should be parsed or ignored.

The conditional expression is formed from a combination of feature, operator,  and/or value, as shown in the following table.

Item Example Comment
IE [if IE] The only currently supported feature is the string “IE”,       corresponding to Internet Explorer.
value [if IE 7] An integer or floating point numeral corresponding to the       version of the browser. Returns a Boolean value of true if the       version number matches the browser version. For more information, see Version       Vectors.
! [if !IE] The NOT operator. This is placed immediately in front of the       feature, operator, or subexpression to reverse the       Boolean meaning of the expression.
lt [if lt IE 5.5] The less-than operator. Returns true if the first argument is less       than the second argument.
lte [if lte IE 6] The less-than or equal operator. Returns true if the first argument is       less than or equal to the second argument.
gt [if gt IE 5] The greater-than operator. Returns true if the first argument is       greater than the second argument.
gte [if gte IE 7] The greater-than or equal operator. Returns true if the first argument       is greater than or equal to the second argument.
( ) [if !(IE 7)] Subexpression operators. Used in conjunction with boolean operators to       create more complex expressions.
& [if (gt IE 5)&(lt IE     7)] The AND operator. Returns true if all subexpressions evaluate to     true
| [if (IE 6)|(IE 7)] The OR operator. Returns true if any of the subexpressions evaluates       to true.
true [if true] Always evaluates to true.
false [if false] Always evaluates to false.

Downlevel-hidden Conditional Comments

The following sample shows a downlevel-hidden conditional comment, which  contains a short paragraph of text

<!--[if IE 5]>
<p>Welcome to Internet Explorer 5.</p>

The downlevel-hidden conditional comment contains hyphens (“–“) in the  opening and closing tag, similar to the basic HTML Comment. The condition  appears in the opening portion of the tag, and [endif] is placed prior to the  closing portion of the tag. The content is placed inside the comment tags.

Because the first four characters and the last three characters of the  comment are identical to a basic HTML Comment element, downlevel browsers  ignore the HTML content inside the comment block. Since content is effectively  hidden from browsers that do not support conditional comments, this type of  conditional comment is called downlevel-hidden.

If the result of the conditional expression is true, the content inside the  comment block is parsed and rendered by Internet Explorer 5 and later versions.  This behavior makes the downlevel-hidden conditional comment particularly useful  for content that has been specifically designed for Internet Explorer.

The following sample illustrates how a client-side script block can be placed  inside a conditional comment; in this case, a message is displayed in Internet  Explorer 5 and later.

<!--[if gte IE 5]>

alert("Congratulations! You are running Internet Explorer 5 or greater.");

<P>Thank you for closing the message box.</P>

In the preceding example, only the major digit of the browser version is  compared because it is the only digit specified in the conditional expression.  To compare both major and minor version numbers, specify both digits. For  further explanation and examples on specifying the browser’s version number, see Version  Vectors.

Downlevel-revealed Conditional Comments

The downlevel-revealed conditional comment enables you to include content in  browsers that do not recognize conditional comments. Although the conditional  comment itself is ignored, the HTML content inside it is not. Internet Explorer  5 and later versions also parse and render the content if the conditional  expression evaluates to true. The downlevel-revealed conditional comment  complements the downlevel-hidden conditional comment.

The following snippet shows a typical downlevel-revealed conditional  comment.

<![if lt IE 5]>
<p>Please upgrade to Internet Explorer version 5.</p>

When comparing this type of comment to the basic HTML Comment, notice  that there are no hyphens (“–“) immediately after the opening “<!” or  immediately before the closing “>” of the comment block; therefore, the  comment delimiters are treated as unrecognized HTML. Because the browser does  not recognize the downlevel-revealed conditional comment, it does nothing with  it.

Version Vectors

Conditional expressions are often used to determine the version of the  browser. The format of the version vector number must be defined correctly to  obtain the desired result.

When testing the major browser version number, the version vector is an  integer. To check for a minor browser version, follow the version vector by a  decimal point and four digits. For example, the version vector for the release  build of Internet Explorer 5.5 is 5.5000.

In the following example, only the major version number is specified;  therefore, the sample evaluates as true for both Internet Explorer 5 and  Internet Explorer 5.5.

<!--[if IE 5]>
<p>Welcome to any incremental version of Internet Explorer 5!</p>

The following test correctly identifies Internet Explorer 5.

<!--[if IE 5.0000]>
<p>Welcome to Internet Explorer 5.0!</p>
Note  Internet Explorer 5, which shipped  with Microsoft Windows 2000, has a version vector equal to 5.0002. Therefore,  the conditional expression [if lte IE 5.0000] returns false when evaluated in  the release build of Internet Explorer 5.


Here are some more examples of  conditional comments.

<!--[if IE]><p>You are using Internet Explorer.</p><![endif]-->
<![if !IE]><p>You are not using Internet Explorer.</p><![endif]>

<!--[if IE 7]><p>Welcome to Internet Explorer 7!</p><![endif]-->
<!--[if !(IE 7)]><p>You are not using version 7.</p><![endif]-->

<!--[if gte IE 7]><p>You are using IE 7 or greater.</p><![endif]-->
<!--[if (IE 5)]><p>You are using IE 5 (any version).</p><![endif]-->
<!--[if (gte IE 5.5)&(lt IE 7)]><p>You are using IE 5.5 or IE 6.</p><![endif]-->
<!--[if lt IE 5.5]><p>Please upgrade your version of Internet Explorer.</p><![endif]-->

<!--[if true]>You are using an <em>uplevel</em> browser.<![endif]-->
<![if false]>You are using a <em>downlevel</em> browser.<![endif]>

<!--[if true]><![if IE 7]><p>This nested comment is displayed in IE 7.</p><![endif]><![endif]-->