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An intro to CSS anchor positioning

I’ve been half-ignoring anchor positioning but patiently waiting for it to land in browsers for a while now. But this explanation by Brecht yesterday reminded me to buckle up and learn it all properly since it just landed in the latest version of Chrome and Edge.

One thing I hadn’t heard of before Brecht’s post was the inset-area property which sure is handy. As he explains, it lets you draw a grid around an element and then position something left/right/up/down within it:

.anchored {
  position-anchor: --anchortome;
  position: absolute;
  inset-area: top span-all;
}

This feels like how I’d anchor-position something like a tooltip maybe 95% of the time which is neat. But! Although anchor positioning sure is going to be amazing for tooltips, it goes far beyond that. Re-reading Roman Komarov’s post from last year made me spit-take again:

It becomes possible to highlight something in a completely different place on the page, allowing elements to “know of each other”.

Not only does that sound punk rock and strangely ominious, I think that’s what anchor positioning really opens up.