The inline-block value for display is a classic! It’s not new and browser support is certainly not something you need to worry about. I’m sure many of us reach for it intuitively. But let’s put a point on it. What is it actually useful for? When do you pick it over other, perhaps similar, options?
(I bet this makes for interesting replies.)What is the last thing you used `display: inline-block` for?— Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) June 19, 2020
The most common answer I heard was: I always use it on buttons.
Ultimately, I think that makes sense, but it contributes to a what I see as a slight misunderstanding. The idea is that you want elements that look like buttons (which might be crafted with ,
You wanna knock it over in a row instead, you can…
And you got it.
I took a quick listen in VoiceOver and the inline-block list still announces the element as a list, but doesn’t speak the bullet points, which makes sense as they aren’t there. That’s the thing with changing the display of the list items themselves away from list-item: they lose their, ahem, list-item-y-ness.
An alternative would be to make the parent a flexbox container…
…which achieves the horizontal row thing (the flexbox default), but leaves the bullets as you aren’t changing the display of the list items themselves. It’s on you to manually remove that if you want.
Speaking of lists, Jeff Starr just blogged about the idea of lists within centered text, which can get awkward as well. The awkwardness is that the text inside the list items can be centered, but the list item itself is still full-width, creating this situation where the bullet stays aligned to the left.
Jeff’s solution was to inline-block the whole list. That keeps the list only as wide as the natural width of the content, allowing the bullets to leave the left edge and travel with the centered content. As long as there are block-level elements before and after, that is a good solution.
By way of an alternative, if the goal is to shrink the width of the list to the width of the content, that could also be achieved like this without stopping the list from being block-level:
margin: 0 auto;
There is another tricky thing with inline-block. Like inline elements, any whitespace between them essentially renders as a space. So two 50% wide `inline-block` elements won’t fit on a line if there is any whitespace between them. Good thing there are tricks to fix that.I say “used to” because, if you were going to make a column system today, you’d almost certainly use flexbox or grid — or not build a “system” at all because just using the syntax of these largely negates the need for a system in the first place.