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9.4. Fixed Positioning

As implied in the previous section, fixed positioning is just like absolute positioning, except the containing block of a fixed element is always the viewport. In this case, the element is totally removed from the document's flow and does not have a position relative to any part of the document.

This can be exploited in a number of interesting ways. First off, it's possible to create frame-style interfaces using fixed positioning. Consider Figure 9-24, which shows a very common layout scheme.

Figure 9-24

Figure 9-24. Emulating frames with fixed positioning

This could be done using the following styles:

DIV#header {position: fixed; top: 0; bottom: 80%; left: 20%; right: 0;
background: gray;}
DIV#sidebar {position: fixed; top: 0; bottom: 0; left: 0; right: 80%;
background: silver;}

This will fix the header and sidebar to the top and side of the viewport, where they will remain regardless of how the document is scrolled. The drawback here, though, is that the rest of the document will be overlapped by the fixed elements. Therefore, the rest of the content should probably be contained in its own DIV and employ the following:

DIV#main {position: absolute; top: 20%; bottom: 0; left: 20%; right: 0;
overflow: scroll; background: white;}

It would even be possible to create small gaps between the three positioned DIVs by adding some appropriate margins, demonstrated in Figure 9-25:

BODY {background: black; color: silver;}  /* colors for safety's sake */
DIV#header {position: fixed; top: 0; bottom: 80%; left: 20%; right: 0;
background: gray; margin-bottom: 2px; color: yellow;}
given this rule:

BODY {color: purple;}

then, by default, the border around the image will be purple. Ofcourse, to get that border to appear, you have to do a little workfirst.

Figure 9-25

Figure 9-25. Separating the "frames"

Given such a case, a tiled image could be applied to the BODY background. This image would show through the gaps created by the margins, which could certainly be widened if the author saw fit. For that matter, if a background image was of little importance, simple borders could be applied to the DIVs instead of margins.

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options position the image relative to the current line only, and do not wrap other lines: 
TOP aligns top of image to highest element in the line. 
TEXTTOP aligns top of image with highest text in the line. 
MIDDLE aligns middle of image to baseline. 
ABSMIDDLE aligns middle of image with middle of largest element in the line. 
BOTTOM aligns bottom of image to bottom of text.  All of the advantages of XML outlined so far all make interoperability possible. This is one of the most important requirements for XML, to enable disparate systems to be able to share information easily.

By taking the lowest common denominator approach, by being web enabled, protocol independent, network independent, platform independent and extensible, XML makes it possible for new systems and old systems (that are all different) to communicate with each other. Encoding information in plain text with tags is better than using propietary and platform dependent binary formats.


XML provides solutions for problems that have existed for the past 20 years. With most applications and software services using the Internet as a target platform for deployment, XML could not have come at a better time. With the web becoming so popular, a new paradigm of computing has emerged for which XML supplies one of the most important pieces, platform, vendor and application neutral data. Regardless of the programming language used to process XML, it will enable this new networked computing world.

Java is also a key component of this new paradigm. On the server side, by working with XML, it can more naturally integrate legacy systems and services. With XML, Java can do what it does best, work very well on the server side, and web (and Internet) enable software systems.

The 2nd category of Java applications called Java Application Servers (or app servers) and they make good use of XML. Unlike client side graphical Java apps (from the previous section) which are very standalone in their operations, app servers tie many different networked software components together in order to provide information from multiple sources to a set of client side Java apps or web browsers (maybe even running on different devices). This is shown in Figure 2. An app server is actually a conglomeration of several distributed and client/server software systems. So when you write an app server, you are actually writing many different software systems which are all networked to work together, to process information that comes from various sources, and distribute this information to a set of client apps (that you also have to write) running on different devices and platforms.

How can XML help app servers do their work? As you can see in Figure 2, in order for the app server to harvest information from such a rich variety of sources, there must be some common ground between all of these sources (each of which might be running on a different hardware and software system). This common ground is the information which flows throughout the entire system, regardless of what source the information comes from. CORBA is an example of tying disparate systems together based on the interfaces that certain remote objects implement. XML does the same thing for data. It allows these disparate systems to share information in a medium that consists only of pure information (and the structural relationships that exist inside of that information). By taking the lowest common denominator approach by using plain text to encode data, XML allows these systems to talk with each other without requiring any special binary information format converters or other service layers to translate between binary formats (for encoding data). Also, since HTTP already supports transmission of plain text, it is completely natural to move XML around using the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol through firewalls and disparate networks. This is shown in Figure 3. XML can be transmitted between systems using one of the most prevalent protocols in use today, Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP 1.1 (which is the protocol of the web).

App server developers are not restricted to using HTTP, they can transmit and recieve XML information using simple remote CORBA objects and RMI objects. The key is that by using XML, it makes these remote services or objects easier to build. And, by sticking with XML, any one of these technologies can be used in your design of your app server. You can use whatever technology is most appropriate to getting the job done, knowing that all the information flows as XML and can be processed by any part of the system. The reason Java object serialization did not achieve this is because it encodes object data to a binary format that is dependent on too many things (like the JVM version, and the existence of classes when things are deserialized, etc). XML is not limited by any of these restrictions (or problems), which makes it much easier to create systems that allow XML information to flow between different subsystems. Also by relying only on the data, large portions of the system can be replaced with better or different implementations for future-readiness.

color property and by setting the border colors using one of a number of border properties. Primarily there is the border-color property, as well as shorthand properties such as border-top, border-right, border-bottom , border-left, and border.

The background of an element is all of the space behind the foreground, out to the edge of the borders; thus, the content box and the padding are all part of an element's background. There are