I was playing around with some React stuff and came upon a basic layout issue. I wanted to have the standard header + footer + main + sidebar sort of layout, but I wanted to do it flexbox. I also wanted the header and footer to be fixed to the top and bottom, respectively, and for the main content to be able to scroll inside it.

UPDATE!! Now with more responsive!

The results can be seen at this repo, and a demo at Flex Standard Layout (demo).

Making the header and footer fixed to top and bottom is fairly easy. The following attributes generally work well:

.fixed-top, .fixed-bottom {
  position: aboslute;
  height: 40px;
.fixed-top { top: 0 }
.fixed-bottom { bottom: 0 }

Full-height columns

Getting columns of equal height is a bit tricksier, and I resorted to what seems like a hack.

.fixed-middle {
  position: absolute;
  top: 40px;
  bottom: 40px;
  overflow: hidden;


.fixed-middle .column {
  overflow: auto;

Where’s the flex?

This isn’t very flexy yet, so I added in some goodness for that:

.fixed-middle {
  dislplay: flex
.fixed-middle .col {
  flex: 1

Much better, but then the sidebars and central main content area are all the same width. I want the content area to dominate.

I arranged the main content part to come before the sidebars, like so:

<div class="fixed-middle">
    <main class="main-content" role="main">
        <!-- main content -->
    <aside class="left-side">
        <!-- left side bar content -->
    <aside class="right-side">
        <!-- right sidebar content -->

After removing .fixed-middle .col CSS definition, I put in:

.fixed-middle .main-content {
   flex: 5;
   order: 2;
.fixed-middle .left-side {
   flex: 1;
   order: 1;
.fixed-middle .right-side {
   flex: 1;
   order: 3;

This tells flexbox to let the main content area grow to 5 times the size of the sidebars, but make sure the left side bar’s content comes first in the row.

I wanted to extend this even further, so the case where you may have multiple “widgets” in the header or footer, and so redid the same idea for the those, but keeping the flex to 1.

If I ended up with a 2/3 widget and 1/3 widget, I could mark them with appropriate classes and set the flex accordingly.

Sample Repo and Demo

Making it responsive

This turned out to be really easy, and all I needed to do is wrap the flexbox and absolute positioning in a media query.

I had put the page header after the main content, but that didn’t look as good, so I moved that to the top.

The image was misbehaving as well, so I introduced an .img-responsive class that limited the width to 100%.