The Origin Story of Container Queries


Container Queries are an often requested feature of the web platform. It has become almost cliché to mention it when talking about problems we’d like the web platform to solve. Container Queries would go a long way toward helping web developers do their jobs better and its omission is a huge limitation when developing component-based code for the web.

Everyone wants it, but it sure seems like no one is actively working on it. But I’m not here to soapbox about that. Here I only mean to discover the earliest mention of Container Queries (or Element Queries or any implementations of this similar idea) to learn how long this feature has been requested by web developers. I’m curious: is this length of time customary for a new feature of the web platform? Or is something else going on?

Here are the earliest mentions of Container Queries that the community was able to dig up (in reverse chronological order):

2013 April 1
ianstormtaylor’s AvatarIan Storm Taylor’s _Media Queries are a Hack_ blog post

2013 March 17
joecritch’s AvatarJoe Critch’s container-queries

2013 February 7
jon_neal’s AvatarJon Neal’s (now ⛔️ deleted) Thoughts on Media Queries for Elements

2013 February 7
necolas’s AvatarNicolas Gallagher’s (now ⛔️ deleted) tweet

2012 April 21
jon_neal’s AvatarJon Neal’s MediaClass
2012 January 23
paul_irish’s AvatarPaul Irish’s tweet reply to a (now ⛔️ deleted)ianstormtaylor’s AvatarIan Storm Taylor tweet (date unknown)
2011 September 1
A question posted by user `Damon` on Stack Overflow

2011 July 15
andyhume’s AvatarAndy Hume’s (now ⛔️ deleted) Responsive Containers blog post

2011 July 14
andyhume’s AvatarAndy Hume’s selector-queries

Andy Hume’s work, thus far, seems to be the original! If you have others that pre-date 2014 (even if they aren’t before Andy’s), please reply to this tweet.

Look at all this link rot! We’re so lucky that many of these entries were preserved by The Wayback Machine. You too can donate to the Internet Archive to support their obviously valuable mission.

For comparison, Ethan Marcotte’s original A List Apart article on Responsive Web Design was published 9.6 years ago on May 25, 2010.

The first large-scale Responsive Web Design project at the Boston Globe was launched after container queries were planted 8.3 years ago on September 9, 2011. The Boston Globe launch further planted the seeds for responsive image approaches that would result in web browser implementations of both <img srcset> and <picture> just three years later in 2014.

In conclusion, 🤷‍♂️.

This post was originally posted here

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