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Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Cropped" images via CSS only

Had this problem on a site recently. There was an area where a variety of images could show up, dynamically pulled from a datbase. The images were of a fair variety of dimensions - all the same general size, but no exactly the same.

The variety of dimensions made the area look bad - and simply forcing them to the same dimensions led to distorted looking images. At the same time it wasn't feasible to resize or crop them either automatically or manually.

The solution I came up with was to simulate a cropping effect. I came up with a good "ideal" dimension. Say it's 100x100. The images themselves are in a grid of table cells.

First, I fixed the table cell size at 100x100. Then, rather than placing the image inside the table cell as would be standard, I set it as the background for the table cell, and just put a "&bsp;" in the table cell (so it's not empty).

This makes it so that the table cell displays the image as a background - any parts of the image that exceed the 100x100 dimensions are not shown. But if for example the image is narrower (say 90x100) then it won't fill out the 100x100 enclosing table cell.

To fix this, I set the background color for the cells to black. Then I set the background position to "center center".

Here's the basic css code:


td.thumbnail {
width: 100px;
height: 100px;
background-color: black;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-position: center center;
}


Here's the html for a single table cell. You have to use inline styles to set a different background image for each cell.


<td class="thumbnail" style="background-image: url([the image]);">
&nbsp;
</td>

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