Recipe: Media objects

The Media Object is a pattern we see all over the web. Named by Nicole Sullivan it refers to a two-column box with an image on one side and descriptive text on the other, e.g. a facebook post or tweet.

Requirements

Media Object pattern needs some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Stacked on Mobile, two columns on Desktop.
  • The image can be on the left or right.
  • The image might be small or large.
  • Media Objects can be nested.
  • The Media Object should clear the contents no matter which side is tallest.

The recipe

Choices made

I have chosen to use Grid Layout for the media object as it allows me to control the layout in two dimensions when I need to. This means that when we have a footer, with short content above, the footer can be pushed down to the bottom of the media object.

Another reason to use Grid Layout is in order that I can use fit-content() for the track sizing of the image. By using fit-content with a maximum size of 200 pixels, when we have a small image such as the icon, the track only gets as large as the size of that image — the max-content size. If the image is larger, the track stops growing at 200 pixels and as the image has a max-width of 100% applied, it scales down so that it continues to fit inside the column.

By using grid-template-areas to achieve the layout, I can see the pattern in the CSS. I define my grid once we have a max-width of 500 pixels, so on smaller devices the media object stacks.

An option for the pattern is to flip it to switch the image to the other side — this is done by adding the media-flip class, which defines a flipped grid template causing the layout to be mirrored.

When we nest one media object inside another we need to place it into the second track in the regular layout, and the first track when flipped.

Fallbacks

There are a number of possible fallbacks for this pattern, depending on the browsers you wish to support. A good catch-all would be to float the image left, and to add a clearfix to the box to ensure that it contained the floats.

Once floated elements become grid items the float no longer applies so you don’t need to do anything special to clear the float.

What you will need to do is remove any margins applied to the item, and any widths which we don’t need in a grid context (we have the gap property to control it in grids, and the track takes control of the sizing).

Relevant resources on MDN

Browser compatibility

The various layout methods have different browser support. See the charts below for details on basic support for the properties used.

The compatibility table in this page is generated from structured data. If you'd like to contribute to the data, please check out https://github.com/mdn/browser-compat-data and send us a pull request.

grid-template-areas

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Basic supportChrome Full support 57
Full support 57
Full support 29
Disabled
Disabled From version 29: this feature is behind the Enable experimental Web Platform features preference. To change preferences in Chrome, visit chrome://flags.
Edge Full support 16Firefox Full support 52
Full support 52
Full support 40
Disabled
Disabled From version 40: this feature is behind the layout.css.grid.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
IE No support NoOpera Full support 44
Full support 44
Full support 28
Disabled
Disabled From version 28: this feature is behind the Enable experimental Web Platform features preference.
Safari Full support 10.1WebView Android Full support 57Chrome Android Full support 57
Full support 57
Full support 29
Disabled
Disabled From version 29: this feature is behind the Enable experimental Web Platform features preference. To change preferences in Chrome, visit chrome://flags.
Edge Mobile Full support 16Firefox Android Full support 52
Full support 52
Full support 40
Disabled
Disabled From version 40: this feature is behind the layout.css.grid.enabled preference (needs to be set to true). To change preferences in Firefox, visit about:config.
Opera Android Full support 44Safari iOS Full support 10.3Samsung Internet Android Full support 6.0

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support
User must explicitly enable this feature.
User must explicitly enable this feature.

float

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge MobileFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Basic supportChrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 4Opera Full support 7Safari Full support 1WebView Android Full support 1Chrome Android Full support YesEdge Mobile Full support YesFirefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 6Safari iOS Full support 1Samsung Internet Android Full support Yes
Flow-relative values inline-start and inline-end
Experimental
Chrome No support NoEdge No support NoFirefox Full support 55IE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari No support NoWebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoEdge Mobile No support NoFirefox Android Full support 55Opera Android No support NoSafari iOS No support NoSamsung Internet Android No support No

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.

Document Tags and Contributors

Contributors to this page: chrisdavidmills, rachelandrew
Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,