CSS features that Firefox supports but Chrome doesn't

This is a short list of CSS features that work on Firefox but not yet on Chrome. In particular, features that would be really cool to use in production if the other major browsers supported them. Maybe you didn’t know about some of these. Hopefully, I’ll get you informed on them. I’ll update this when the glorious day comes in which we are able to use these without polyfills or any other kind of external libraries.

Scroll snap points

Scroll snap points, in case you haven’t heard of them yet, are a way of introducing precision while scrolling. They’re especially useful for touch devices. Imagine a gallery of images arranged horizontally: a user on a tablet might swipe upwards to continue towards the next image, but the browser scrolls wildly towards the southern ranges of the website. With scroll snap points, we can tell the browser to gracefully stop scrolling in certain points of our document.

There are some cool libraries which implement this with cross-browser compatibility, such as the ever-famous pagePiling.js (which does a lot more things than just scroll snapping), but the native CSS property doesn’t work on Chrome.

CSS scroll snap points work for the horizontal axis as well as for the vertical axis. I’m going to give you an example of a vertical scrolling container with scroll snap points. Hop to Firefox if you’re not there already.

This will only work on Firefox

For a great guide on how to use this, refer to CSS Tricks. The basic syntax you have to use for this is as follows:

.container {
  scroll-snap-type: mandatory;
  scroll-snap-points-y:repeat(px, vh, vw, percentage);
  scroll-snap-destination: x y;
}

Hyphenation

Next up in our CSS features that don’t work on Chrome is hyphenation. Check out this piece of lorem. The upper picture was taken on Chrome, and the lower one was taken on Firefox. They both have hyphenation active, but obviously it only works on Firefox.

Hyphenation in Chrome vs Firefox

The hyphens property is tied to the language attribute you give your HTML, so be sure to use the correct language. Here is the different syntax options you can use in more detail:

.element-that-contains-text {
  hyphens: none;
  hyphens: manual;
  hyphens: auto;
  /* And as usual... */
  hyphens: inherit;
  hyphens: initial;
  hyphens: unset;
}

Normally you’d use auto. But the manual option is quite interesting (although not very practical, I think). On manual you’d be able to suggest a line break. This can be done in two different ways: by typing a hyphen (-), which suggests the line break but prints the hyphen even if there’s not going to be a line break, or by adding a soft hyphen (U+00AD). A soft hyphen won’t print but will break the line if able to.

I have recently been informed by a tweet by Michael Scharnagl of a plan to introduce hyphens to Blink, which is interesting. Let’s hope it comes to Chrome soon.

The element function

This feature is awesome! Its effect is a little bit difficult to pick up on. Here’s my attempt at explaining it. The CSS background property accepts several different values, such as colors and image URLs. In Firefox, you can also use the element() function as a value for the background property. Let’s set up two div elements with some simple markup:

<div id='element-on-the-left'>
  <!-- whatever content here, this will be
  the source for the element() function -->
</div>

<div id='element-on-the-right'>
  <!-- here we will print a background
  with element() and it will be awesome -->
</div>

Next, we will use this markup to generate a live image of the element on the left. This image will be then used as a background for the element on the right, and the markup goes like this:

#element-on-the-right {
  /* set whatever size here and... */
  background: -moz-element(#element-on-the-left);
}

The whole thing will end up looking similar to this (here’s a link to codepen.io which obviously only works on Firefox):

element() CSS function demo

Now, at first I thought this was cool, but not extremely useful. Until I saw this post by Vincent de Oliveira. His ideas using this feature are extensive and really nice! Go check it out.

Sticky positioning

Update: This has been added to Chrome in version 56. Hurray!

No idea how this one went past my sight for the original list. Thanks to reddit user Graftak9000, Geoffrey Crofte and Nathan here in the comments for pointing this one out.

Scroll down. This will work on Firefox and (now) Chrome 56+

This sticks to the specified 'top' value without any JS.

This property value solves the issue that many modern websites using as sticky header have. Nowadays, cross-browser implementations of a sticky header (or sidebar, or whatever) effect include JavaScript in one way or another. Elements with this property will behave as a relative positioned element until it reaches a threshold specified by its top property, at which point it will behave as a fixed position element. I guess the demo up there is self-explanatory. Here’s the syntax for sticky elements:

.element {
  position: sticky;
  top: /* Your value */;
}

Recent versions of Safari also support this but don’t work properly when the parent has overflow: auto; specified. My demo will not work on Safari because it doesn’t include the -webkit- vendor prefix and because it uses said overflow property. Support on Chrome was enabled with a flag on versions 23 through 26 but it was dropped later on. A new implementation is in development, though, so hurray!

Guide to CSS filters

If you’re a web developer, then for one reason or another you’ve probably put your hands (like I have) on image editing software like Photoshop. Also, you’ve probably used the filter menu, which lets you give a layer cool effects such as blur or overlays, and gives you control of contrast, saturation, etc. Well, fear not! Enter CSS filters and say goodbye to the longest minutes of requesting work from our fellow designers: do it yourself! Unlock the powers of the CSS filter property and show the world some magic.

The totally awesome CSS filter property has been around for a while already. Full support was first included in Chrome 18 (March 2012). Firefox adopted it early in version 3.6 but only achieved full support in Firefox 36 (January 2015). A little bit later on, Opera and Safari added support, and nowadays you can use it on most browsers, including the Android native app. Of course, with the exception of cough Internet Explorer (no support) and Microsoft Edge, which includes partial support.

Before actually explaining what any of this does, I’d like to show you a little piece of code I’ve written to let you play around with filters. Go ahead, frolic away:

CSS Filter Playground
Image URL
Opacity
Contrast
Brightness
Saturate
Grayscale
Hue-rotate
Sepia
Invert
Blur
The resulting CSS will appear here.

As you can see, there’s a million things you can do with the CSS filter property. If you haven’t yet, try using a GIF with it. For the lazy ones, here’s a link to a very cool one by Elle Muliarchyk.

CSS filter FAQ


Most of these effects are self-explanatory. But there are some things which may cause a little bit of head scratching. Here’s my attempt at guessing what those are:

Why would I use an opacity filter when I can just use the good old opacity property?

img {
  /* A filter... */
  filter: opacity(50%);
  /* Or normal opacity... */
  opacity: 0.5;
}

These two will yield the exact same visual effect. But most modern browsers use hardware acceleration on filters, which improves the performance of opacity filters relative to that of the regular opacity CSS property.

What is hue-rotate? What the hell does it do to my element?

I’ve based this information on this Wikipedia article. Hue is one of the properties of a color. It is described by the CIECAM02 model as “the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow”. Hue is to a color what timbre is to a sound, basically. Each one of the colors in our HTML element can be located (and represented by a degree) on this scale:

Hue scale

When you use, for example:

filter: hue-rotate(20deg);

…you shift every single one of the colors in your HTML element 20 degrees to the right in the scale up there. CSS uses a little bit of a more rudimentary scale though, so what you get is an approximation.

Hue is a cyclical property. Use my filter generator and apply a 360 degree hue-rotate. You’ll see you get the exact same result with a 0 degree hue-rotate, or with no filter at all.

Which different units should I be using with each filter?

For blur, you use pixels. With blur, every pixel is analyzed and the surrounding pixels up to a distance specified by you with:

filter:blur(20px);

…are blended together to create the blur effect.

For hue-rotate, you use degrees. This has already been explained in the last section. For the rest of the filters you use percentages.

More effects Vol. I: drop-shadow

There are two more functions you can do with the CSS filter property other than the ones I’ve included in my little program up there. One of them is an effect very similar to box-shadow. It’s called drop-shadow and the syntax goes as follows:

img {
  filter: drop-shadow(16px 16px 10px grey);
}

The values stand for h-shadow v-shadow blur spread color, and the result of the example up there is:

CSS drop-shadow example

But what is the difference between drop-shadow and box-shadow?

Here’s a visual example. That’s the drop-shadow filter on the left and the box-shadow property on the right, on the same image. As you can see, the filter respects the alpha layer on your PNG while the box-shadow property applies the effect on the limits of the canvas. If you were to give an element with a drop-shadow filter a pseudo-element such as :after or :before, the filter would respect that, too.

PNG Example with drop-shadow PNG Example with box-shadow

For a more in-detail comparison, I’m going to link you to a great article by the new code: box-shadow property vs. drop-shadow filter: a complete comparison.

More effects Vol. II: SVG filters

The filters directly available with CSS are no more than a bunch of presets built on top of different definitions of SVG filters (which are essentially XML data). Building these specific filters from zero whenever you wanted to add them would be a PITA, so some awesome people at W3C packed up the presumably more popular filters and created the filter property. This does mean though, that you can still add your own home-brewed SVG filters with the following syntax:

img {
  filter: url(#);
}

You can reference on-page anchors by giving your filter an ID and then using that as the URL. If you’d like to go more in-depth on how to create your own filters, check out this article.

Hi there!

Welcome to Brainless Developer. In this blog I will feature memories of my adventures in the world of web development. Expect to see glorious tales of victory as well as stories of how I continuously bang my head against the brick walls of technology. When I try to do anything that’s new to me, I’ll go ahead and try to explain it here. I want to share my learning process with the world and help you make better digital products, and also learn from your criticism.

I am a self-taught web developer from Spain. I studied International Business in Valencia, but halfway through it I discovered it just wasn’t my thing. I have learned extensively from my major though, and I don’t regret having done it. My native language, as you might have imagined, is Spanish. I’ll try my best at blogging in English, you know, one’s got to keep up with the rest of the planet in terms of language skills.

It’s a great day to live.

A bit more than a week before the writing of this post, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 successfully landed on sea on top of an autonomous spaceport drone ship after having deployed its cargo, which was directed towards the International Space Station. I mean, tell me that’s not real life Star Wars. Anyway, things like that are what motivates me to do something that others can enjoy. Contemplating the greatness of those feats makes me feel small and irrelevant to anything, and I want to fight that by helping you make better websites.

Anyway, enough babbling around. I’ll leave you with an awesome (and unbelievably real) picture of a space rocket returning from the skies and gloriously landing on a drone ship, on planet Earth:

Falcon 9 Drone Ship Landing