Monthly Archives: August 2012

My first attempt at a responsive layout: OSQA

The so called responsive layouts are all the rage these days, and frankly, I feel ashamed that some of my personal projects I do at home are not responsive yet. Partly that's because I don't have that much spare time to dedicate to them, but partly it's also because I have no idea how to transform a "fixed" or traditional layout into a responsive one.

I tried to remedy this by studying a few responsive layouts I stumbled upon. However, I didn't find it very easy to just stare at the code and understand what's going on. Modern CSS has quite some dose of magic for me. I searched a bit around the web to find some responsive layout guides and tried to read them. I remembered we must have had quite some information on responsive layouts on Dev Opera.

A search for "responsive" turns up lots of good results, including Love your devices: adaptive web design with media queries and more… by colleague Chris Mills.

Recently I heard that Chris published the "Practical CSS 3" book, so I just dived into the article, eager to learn everything about responsive layouts, adapting to devices, etc… The occasion for it is another tiny personal project I'm working on during nights and weekends.

It's yet another stack-overflow clone, but for parenting, newborns, pregnancy, etc… powered by the open source Q&A software OSQA. I'm in the process of splitting the existing web site with articles, comments, questions and answers into two different sites, a pure blog with articles and comments, and another site with just questions and answers. The latter is what I'm talking about in this article.

When you install OSQA, by default it looks like this:

It's not bad, but I like the default stack-overflow layout much better. So I spent a few days learning about OSQA and importing the existing content. I found it robust and well designed. It has everything I need, including themes or skins that you can build, and a custom-css functionality:
you can stack your custom CSS content on top of the selected skin, much like what we have in My Opera too.

After a bit of CSS fiddling, I came up with the following layout:

Unfortunately, the default OSQA layout is not responsive at all, and it looks terrible on mobile devices (initial-scale, anyone?). So I started this journey into unknown territory, guided by Chris Mills' article, to discover how to make a layout responsive from scratch. Now, I'm sure there's a crapload of useless/harmful stuff in my custom CSS, but the final result left me really satisfied:

… apart from the "Cerca"/Search button and a few minor things. In the end, I had to duplicate the default skin to make a few very small changes, but apart from that, all the rest is accomplished by the custom CSS snippet. Here it is. Of course the heart of it is the media query for mobile devices:

Please tell me where I screwed up, KTHXBYE :-)