Sunday, September 17, 2006

The return of multicol - multi-column support in web browsers

In the first golden age of the web, Netscape invented all kinds of markup tags. One of my favorites was MULTICOL. A trivial tag produced very nice flowing multicolumn displays. Alas, shortly thereafter Netscape died and so did MULTICOL. We returned to using tables to produce a crude fascimile of columns. Only the geezers remember when columns worked well.

I was reflecting for the zillionth time how I missed dynamic text flow in multiple columns, when it occurred to me to look for any signs of progress. There has been -- with the big news coming out about a year ago: Introducing the CSS3 Multi-Column Module (2005 article, 2001 spec). Since it's CSS it's doubtless infernally complex and renders slowly and poorly, but, hey, it's progress. Firefox 1.5 and later has partial support. In four or five years we might get back to MULTICOL. I miss the old Netscape ... (Ok, so BLINK was not such a great thing ...)

Update 9/17/06: Actually, the Mozilla/Firefox implementation (Gecko) isn't hard at all, but Blogger doesn't seem to allow the tag to work. Odd ...

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