Scroll Snap Challenges
Though JS-free fixed table row and column headers have been possible for quite some time, Safari’s and Chrome’s recent fixes got some people pretty excited. Enough that folks are copying code samples in whole, without always paying attention to necessary considerations.
That same excited demo included other CSS properties that can bring some unintended usability and accessibility challenges: CSS Scroll Snap (that links to the Editor’s Draft, but you can also read MDN’s coverage of scroll snap properties)
My post Fixed Table Headers does not use CSS scroll snap. That is intentional. Two reasons why I did not implement it:
- A Chrome bug from 2018, Issue 835301: [css-scroll-snap][position-sticky] scroll-snapping “stickily” positioned elements can cause inaccurate snap positions, which was not fixed with the Chrome 91 table fixes;
- In testing, users often wanted to straddle a cell to compare with others, and on smaller screens, higher zooms, or fuller cells, this became particularly difficult.
Once you factor in users who resize text or zoom, things can get problematic. Test your scroll snap solution against WCAG SCs 1.4.4 Resize Text, 1.4.10 Reflow, and 1.4.12 Text Spacing. Then try it with just the keyboard.
I forked the pen from my fixed headers post, added
scroll-snap-align: start to the
<td>s, and added
scroll-snap-type: both mandatory to the wrapper.
Then I ran the demo through Safari on iOS and macOS, Chrome on Windows and Android, and Firefox.
I made this demo after I recorded the other videos. This one would have been a better example, but considering what I get paid to run this site it seemed fair to not redo them.
I added a button to toggle text spacing (WCAG SC 1.4.12 Text Spacing) and text size (WCAG SC 1.4.4 Resize Text). You can visit the example directly and try it yourself. Visit the debug version to try it on mobile (not really WCAG SC 1.4.10 Reflow).
I made a video to demonstrate the hassle of trying to compare two columns or to select text that is clipped or outside the snap area. Obviously, your content and use cases will differ, and obviously this is a contrived example.
If you want to use scroll snap properties, test the heck out of them both with users and in browsers. And probably across the more extreme cases of your content.
Update: 30 September 2021
The release notes for Safari Technology Preview 133 suggest some fixes to sticky positioning in cells and padded boxes. This could help with some of the scroll snap weirdness.
Cheers Adrian, great post, very insightful!
I’m surprised by the sloppiness of the rollout of this feature. The table headings blocking the content when scroll snapping shocked me.