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This post is part of my Today I learned series in which I share all my web development learnings.

Today I came across a tweet by Stuart Langridge. Stuart shared a fact about the DOM method scrollIntoView, which was news to me. scrollIntoView allows you to bring elements back into the visible viewport by scrolling the parent container.

MDN defines the method as follows:

The Element interface's scrollIntoView() method scrolls the element's parent container such that the element on which scrollIntoView() is called is visible to the user.


Additionally, scrollIntoView accepts an options object that lets you configure three things: behavior, block and inline.

  behavior: 'smooth', // 'auto' or 'smooth'
  block: 'center',    // 'start', 'center', 'end' or 'nearest'
  inline: 'center'    // 'start', 'center', 'end' or 'nearest'

Use the behavior property to scroll an element into the visible area with "smooth scrolling".

block and inline are the configuration options that Stuart shared and that were new to me. These properties let you define an element's scroll position on the block and inline axis when using scrollIntoView. In a top-to-bottom and left-to-write writing mode, the block dimension is the Y-axis and the inline dimension is the X-axis. If you want to read more about this topic, I recommend reading this article from Rachel Andrew.

Possible scroll position values for both axes are start, center and end. If you don't want to choose a final scroll position but want to scroll as little as possible nearest is an option, too.

Scroll into view devsheets

This is very cool stuff! I'd love it if people used this feature more often because I prefer elements to be scrolled to the center of the viewport rather then the top or bottom.

If you want to play around with it, I wrote a quick CodePen and tweeted a short video.

I recommend treating scrollIntoView's option parameter and its included scroll position as a progressive enhancement because, at the time of writing, the described functionality is not cross-browser supported yet.

MDN Compat Data (source)
Browser support info for options parameter

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Stefan standing in the park in front of a green background

Frontend nerd with over ten years of experience, "Today I Learned" blogger, conference speaker, Tiny helpers maintainer, and DevRel at Checkly.