Can JavaScript Detect the Browser’s Zoom Level?

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No, not really.

My first guess was that this was intentionally not exposed in browsers because browsers intentionally don’t want us fighting it — or making well-intentioned but bad-outcome decisions based on that info. But I don’t see any evidence of that.

StackOverflow answers paint how weird cross-browser it can be. This script from 2013 works for me in Chrome, but not at all in Safari and reports incorrectly in Firefox. Even if that script worked, it relies on user agent detection (which is not long for this world) and some incredibly weird hacks.

So please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the answer is that we can’t really do this right now.

There is a thing called the Visual Viewport API

I’m kinda confused by it.

  • The spec is a draft
  • The support chart lists a lot of support
  • window.visualViewport is defined in Firefox, Safari, and Chrome (desktop)
  • But… window.visualViewport.scale is always 1 in Safari and Chrome, and undefined in Firefox. In other words: useless.

I don’t entirely know if that is supposed to accurately represent the browser zoom level, because the spec talks about specifically about pinch-zoom. So, maybe it’s just not intended for desktop browser zoom levels.

What’s a use case here?

I had a fella spell out a situation like this:

He wanted to use CSS grid to layout cemetery plots (interesting already), like a top-down blueprint of a graveyard. There was lots of information in the layout. If you were “zoomed out” so you could see the whole graveyard on one page, the text in each area would be too small to read (sincethe type would be sized to fit within the boxes/graves). Ideally, the page would hide that text while the browser is zoomed out (perhaps a .hide-text class). When zoomed in far enough, the text is shown again.

Like…

// Dunno if "resize" is best. I don't know what the "change zoom" event would be
window.visualViewport.addEventListener("resize", viewportHandler);
function viewportHandler(event) {
  // NOTE: This doesn't actually work at time of writing
  if (event.target.scale > 3) {
    document.body.classList.remove("hide-text");  
  } else {
    document.body.classList.add("hide-text");
  }
}

There is Pixel Density…

Ben Nadel recently blogged: Looking At How Browser Zoom Affects CSS Media Queries And Pixel-Density.

If you look at window.devicePixelRatio and zoom in, the pixel density in Chrome and Firefox will increase as you zoom in and decrease as you zoom out. Theoretically, you could test the original value (it might start at different places for users with different screens) and use changes in that value to guess zoom. But… in Safari it does nothing, as in, it stays the same regardless of zoom. Plus, the operating system zoom level can affect things here, making it extra tricky; not to mention that a page might start at a zoomed in level which could throw off the whole calculation from the start.


This post was originally posted here

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