Scrollable div to stick to bottom, when outer div changes in size


Here is an example chat app ->

The idea here is to have the .messages-container take up as much of the screen as it can. Within .messages-container, .scroll holds the list of messages, and in case there are more messages then the size of the screen, scrolls.

Now, consider this case:

  1. The user scrolls to the bottom of the conversation
  2. The .text-input, dynamically gets bigger

Now, instead of the user staying scrolled to the bottom of the conversation, the text-input increases, and they no longer see the bottom.

One way to fix it, if we are using react, calculate the height of text-input, and if anything changes, let .messages-container know

componentDidUpdate() {
  window.setTimeout(_ => {
    const newHeight = this.calcHeight();
    if (newHeight !== this._oldHeight) {
      this.props.onResize();
    }
    this._oldHeight = newHeight;
  });
}

But, this causes visible performance issues, and it's sad to be passing messages around like this.

Is there a better way? Could I use css in such a way, to express that when .text-input-increases, I want to essentially shift up all of .messages-container

2:nd revision of this answer

Your friend here is flex-direction: column-reverse; which does all you ask while align the messages at the bottom of the message container, just like for example Skype and many other chat apps do.

.chat-window{
  display:flex;
  flex-direction:column;
  height:100%;
}
.chat-messages{
  flex: 1;
  height:100%;
  overflow: auto;
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column-reverse;
}

.chat-input { border-top: 1px solid #999; padding: 20px 5px }
.chat-input-text { width: 60%; min-height: 40px; max-width: 60%; }

The downside with flex-direction: column-reverse; is a bug in IE/Edge/Firefox, where the scrollbar doesn't show, which your can read more about here: Flexbox column-reverse and overflow in Firefox/IE

The upside is you have ~ 90% browser support on mobile/tablets and ~ 65% for desktop, and counting as the bug gets fixed, ...and there is a workaround.

// scroll to bottom
function updateScroll(el){
  el.scrollTop = el.scrollHeight;
}
// only shift-up if at bottom
function scrollAtBottom(el){
  return (el.scrollTop + 5 >= (el.scrollHeight - el.offsetHeight));
}

In the below code snippet I've added the 2 functions from above, to make IE/Edge/Firefox behave in the same way flex-direction: column-reverse; does.

function addContent () {
  var msgdiv = document.getElementById('messages');
  var msgtxt = document.getElementById('inputs');
  var atbottom = scrollAtBottom(msgdiv);

  if (msgtxt.value.length > 0) {
    msgdiv.innerHTML += msgtxt.value + '<br/>';
    msgtxt.value = "";
  } else {
    msgdiv.innerHTML += 'Long long content ' + (tempCounter++) + '!<br/>';
  }
  
  /* if at bottom and is IE/Edge/Firefox */
  if (atbottom && (!isWebkit || isEdge)) {
    updateScroll(msgdiv);
  }
}

function resizeInput () {
  var msgdiv = document.getElementById('messages');
  var msgtxt = document.getElementById('inputs');
  var atbottom = scrollAtBottom(msgdiv);

  if (msgtxt.style.height == '120px') {
    msgtxt.style.height = 'auto';
  } else {
    msgtxt.style.height = '120px';
  }
  
  /* if at bottom and is IE/Edge/Firefox */
  if (atbottom && (!isWebkit || isEdge)) {
    updateScroll(msgdiv);
  }
}


/* fix for IE/Edge/Firefox */
var isWebkit = ('WebkitAppearance' in document.documentElement.style);
var isEdge = ('-ms-accelerator' in document.documentElement.style);
var tempCounter = 6;

function updateScroll(el){
  el.scrollTop = el.scrollHeight;
}
function scrollAtBottom(el){
  return (el.scrollTop + 5 >= (el.scrollHeight - el.offsetHeight));
}
html, body { height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; }

.chat-window{
  display:flex;
  flex-direction:column;
  height:100%;
}
.chat-messages{
  flex: 1;
  height:100%;
  overflow: auto;
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column-reverse;
}

.chat-input { border-top: 1px solid #999; padding: 20px 5px }
.chat-input-text { width: 60%; min-height: 40px; max-width: 60%; }


/* temp. buttons for demo */
button { width: 12%; height: 44px; margin-left: 5%; vertical-align: top; }

/* begin - fix for hidden scrollbar in IE/Edge/Firefox */
.chat-messages-text{ overflow: auto; }
@media screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio:0) {
  .chat-messages-text{ overflow: visible; }
  /*  reset Edge as it identifies itself as webkit  */
  @supports (-ms-accelerator:true) { .chat-messages-text{ overflow: auto; } }
}
/* hide resize FF */
@-moz-document url-prefix() { .chat-input-text { resize: none } }
/* end - fix for hidden scrollbar in IE/Edge/Firefox */
<div class="chat-window">
  <div class="chat-messages">
    <div class="chat-messages-text" id="messages">
      Long long content 1!<br/>
      Long long content 2!<br/>
      Long long content 3!<br/>
      Long long content 4!<br/>
      Long long content 5!<br/>
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="chat-input">
    <textarea class="chat-input-text" placeholder="Type your message here..." id="inputs"></textarea>
    <button onclick="addContent();">Add msg</button>
    <button onclick="resizeInput();">Resize input</button>
  </div>
</div>


Side note 1: The detection method is not fully tested, but it should work on newer browsers.

Side note 2: Attach a resize event handler for the chat-input might be more efficient then calling the updateScroll function.

Note: Credits to HaZardouS for reusing his html structure


You just need one CSS rule set:

.messages-container, .scroll {transform: scale(1,-1);}

That's it, you're done!

How it works: First, it vertically flips the container element so that the top becomes the bottom (giving us the desired scroll orientation), then it flips the content element so that the messages won't be upside down.

This approach works in all modern browsers. It does have a strange side effect, though: when you use a mouse wheel in the message box, the scroll direction is reversed. This can be fixed with a few lines of JavaScript, as shown below.

Here's a demo and a fiddle to play with:

//Reverse wheel direction
document.querySelector('.messages-container').addEventListener('wheel', function(e) {
  if(e.deltaY) {
    e.preventDefault();
    e.currentTarget.scrollTop -= parseFloat(getComputedStyle(e.currentTarget).getPropertyValue('font-size')) * (e.deltaY < 0 ? -1 : 1) * 2;
  }
});

//The rest of the JS just handles the test buttons and is not part of the solution
send = function() {
  var inp = document.querySelector('.text-input');
  document.querySelector('.scroll').insertAdjacentHTML('beforeend', '<p>' + inp.value);
  inp.value = '';
  inp.focus();
}
resize = function() {
  var inp = document.querySelector('.text-input');
  inp.style.height = inp.style.height === '50%' ? null : '50%';
}
html,body {height: 100%;margin: 0;}
.conversation {
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
  height: 100%;
}
.messages-container {
  flex-shrink: 10;
  height: 100%;
  overflow: auto;
}
.messages-container, .scroll {transform: scale(1,-1);}
.text-input {resize: vertical;}
<div class="conversation">
  <div class="messages-container">
    <div class="scroll">
      <p>Message 1<p>Message 2<p>Message 3<p>Message 4<p>Message 5
      <p>Message 6<p>Message 7<p>Message 8<p>Message 9<p>Message 10
    </div>
  </div>
  <textarea class="text-input" autofocus>Your message</textarea>
  <div>
    <button id="send" onclick="send();">Send input</button>
    <button id="resize" onclick="resize();">Resize input box</button>
  </div>
</div>


I've moved text-input within messages, absolute positioned it to the bottom of the container and given messages enough bottom padding to space accordingly.

Run some code to add a class to conversation, which changes the height of text-input and bottom padding of messages using a nice CSS transition animation.

The JavaScript runs a "scrollTo" function at the same time as the CSS transition is running to keep the scroll at the bottom.

When the scroll comes off the bottom again, we remove the class from conversation

Hope this helps.

https://jsfiddle.net/cnvzLfso/5/

var doScollCheck = true;
var objConv = document.querySelector('.conversation');
var objMessages = document.querySelector('.messages');
var objInput = document.querySelector('.text-input');

function scrollTo(element, to, duration) {
  if (duration <= 0) {
    doScollCheck = true;
    return;
  }
  var difference = to - element.scrollTop;
  var perTick = difference / duration * 10;

  setTimeout(function() {
    element.scrollTop = element.scrollTop + perTick;
    if (element.scrollTop === to) {
      doScollCheck = true;
      return;
    }
    scrollTo(element, to, duration - 10);
  }, 10);
}

function resizeInput(atBottom) {
  var className = 'bigger',
    hasClass;
  if (objConv.classList) {
    hasClass = objConv.classList.contains(className);
  } else {
    hasClass = new RegExp('(^| )' + className + '( |$)', 'gi').test(objConv.className);
  }
  if (atBottom) {
    if (!hasClass) {
      doScollCheck = false;
      if (objConv.classList) {
        objConv.classList.add(className);
      } else {
        objConv.className += ' ' + className;
      }
      scrollTo(objMessages, (objMessages.scrollHeight - objMessages.offsetHeight) + 50, 500);
    }
  } else {
    if (hasClass) {
      if (objConv.classList) {
        objConv.classList.remove(className);
      } else {
        objConv.className = objConv.className.replace(new RegExp('(^|\\b)' + className.split(' ').join('|') + '(\\b|$)', 'gi'), ' ');
      }
    }
  }
}

objMessages.addEventListener('scroll', function() {
  if (doScollCheck) {
    var isBottom = ((this.scrollHeight - this.offsetHeight) === this.scrollTop);
    resizeInput(isBottom);
  }
});
html,
body {
  height: 100%;
  width: 100%;
  background: white;
}
body {
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;
}
.conversation {
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
  justify-content: space-between;
  height: 100%;
  position: relative;
}
.messages {
  overflow-y: scroll;
  padding: 10px 10px 60px 10px;
  -webkit-transition: padding .5s;
  -moz-transition: padding .5s;
  transition: padding .5s;
}
.text-input {
  padding: 10px;
  -webkit-transition: height .5s;
  -moz-transition: height .5s;
  transition: height .5s;
  position: absolute;
  bottom: 0;
  height: 50px;
  background: white;
}
.conversation.bigger .messages {
  padding-bottom: 110px;
}
.conversation.bigger .text-input {
  height: 100px;
}
.text-input input {
  height: 100%;
}
<div class="conversation">
  <div class="messages">
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is a message content
    </p>
    <p>
      This is the last message
    </p>
    <div class="text-input">
      <input type="text" />
    </div>
  </div>
</div>


You write;

Now, consider this case:

    The user scrolls to the bottom of the conversation
    The .text-input, dynamically gets bigger

Wouldn't the method that dynamically sets the .text-input be the logical place to fire this.props.onResize().


To whom it may concern,

The answers above did not suffice my question.

The solution I found was to make my innerWidth and innerHeight variable constant - as the innerWidth of the browser changes on scroll to adapt for the scrollbar.

var innerWidth = window.innerWidth
var innerHeight = window.innerHeight

OR FOR REACT

this.setState({width: window.innerWidth, height: window.innerHeight})

In other words, to ignore it, you must make everything constant as if it were never scrolling. Do remember to update these on Resize / Orientation Change !

Oscar


Please try the following fiddle - https://jsfiddle.net/Hazardous/bypxg25c/. Although the fiddle is currently using jQuery to grow/resize the text area, the crux is in the flex related styles used for the messages-container and input-container classes -

.messages-container{
  order:1;
  flex:0.9 1 auto;
  overflow-y:auto;
  display:flex;
  flex-direction:row;
  flex-wrap:nowrap;
  justify-content:flex-start;
  align-items:stretch;
  align-content:stretch;
}

.input-container{
  order:2;
  flex:0.1 0 auto;
}

The flex-shrink value is set to 1 for .messages-container and 0 for .input-container. This ensures that messages-container shrinks when there is a reallocation of size.