January is the time most of us cease reflecting on the year gone by, and start looking to the months ahead. It seems everyone has different ideas on what to expect in 2017 (you’ll read ours next week) and one of the most anticipated changes this year, is the introduction of CSS Grid Layout.
Grid Layout allows us to define areas of a page, and determine how they stretch, scale, and respond to the viewport. Developed as a mature layout solution for the web, it delivers an unprecedented level of control in CSS, but if you thought Flexbox was a steep learning curve, you’ve seen nothing yet.
One of the reasons no one uses CSS Grid Layout right now is that it offers very limited support; currently, only IE10+ and Edge 12+ [doffs cap in Microsoft’s direction] offer any support at all. However that’s all about to change with full support across all major browsers expected to arrive around March.
[pullquote]layout is not really a progressive enhancement[/pullquote]
Unfortunately, layout is not really a progressive enhancement. Layout determines many things, not least visual hierarchy, which can be instrumental in conveying meaning. And so, as exciting as Grid Layout is, the new design freedoms that it delivers seem hamstrung for now. The question is, when will CSS Grid Layout be reliable enough to be your default approach to layout online?
Probably the most pragmatic answer is: it depends on your target demographic. If you’re building a site for an online CSS conference sponsored by a browser manufacturer, you’re probably good to go; for every other purpose, the point at which CSS Grid Layout is commercially useful, may be a little hazier.
CSS Grid Layout is certainly coming soon, to a browser near you. It opens up new possibilities for layout. However, whether it’s usable outside of CodePen anytime soon, is another matter entirely.
Ben Moss has designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. When he’s not in front of a screen he’s probably out trail-running.