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CSS Flexbox: A Complete Guide with Examples

  • CSS3
  • 9 min read
CSS flexbox complete

In this tutorial, you will learn CSS flexbox completely with examples. In this guide, I have covered everything about CSS flexbox also known as CSS flexible box layout. And I assure you that this guide will be very helpful for everyone whether you are a beginner or an expert.

I divided this guide into different parts so that you understand the flexible box layout in detail with a lot of ease. After reading this complete guide, you will be able to create flexible layouts on your website like a pro.

Things that I covered in this tutorial:

  • What is CSS flexbox?
  • Example of CSS flexbox
  • flex-container vs. flex-items
  • CSS flex-container
  • All the flex-container properties
  • CSS flex-items
  • All Properties that use for flex-items

If you’re a beginner and do not know about CSS. Then don’t worry, here is our complete guide about what is CSS?

So let’s get started.

What is CSS flexbox?

CSS Flexbox is a one-dimensional web layout module. It allows us to create responsive elements layouts in our website. We can arrange the elements in rows and columns. Before CSS Flexbox, we use floats, tables, blocks and Positioned properties to create web layouts.

Furthermore, in simple words, the CSS flexbox is a CSS layout module that we use to display and arrange elements inside another element or container.

Example of CSS Flexbox

So, in this example, I created a <div> element with a class named flex-container in HTML. And then I created three <div> elements inside that <div> element. Like this below.

<div class="flex-container">
  <div>flex-item1</div>
  <div>flex-item2</div>
  <div>flex-item3</div>
</div>

Now, in the next step I added some CSS to convert this to flexbox. Then some more CSS to style this.

.flex-container{
  display: flex;
  background-color: #f7941d;
  margin: 20px;
  justify-content: center;
}
.flex-container>div{
  color: white;
  padding: 40px;
  background-color: #c597ec;
  margin: 10px;
  border: 1px solid grey;
}

Now, it will display like this in your browser. And don’t worry about CSS properties, we are going to see that in detail.

css flexbox example

Difference between Flex Container vs. Flex Items?

As you saw in the above example. The outer area with an orange background color that we created with the <div> element is called a flex container. And inner <div> elements look like boxes, with purple background color are called flex-items.

CSS Flexbox Container (Parent Element)

css flexbox example

The area with orange colour is a flex container. And we will call it parent element because we apply display: flex property to only parent elements. And the flex-items in this container are its child elements.

How to Create CSS Flexbox Container?

It is very easy, just take <div> HTML element and give that a class and this will be your parent element. Then put some HTML elements inside that element and these are called child elements.

Look at the HTML code below. I use same HTML code as in the above example to demonstrate you.

<div class="flex-container">
  <div>flex-item1</div>
  <div>flex-item2</div>
  <div>flex-item3</div>
</div>

Now we will use the display property and give it a value flex. To convert this HTML code to flexbox through CSS. Like this below.

.flex-container{
  display: flex;
}

Remember: You must have to apply display: flex; property only on the parent element to see the results.

The Flex Container Properties

We can apply six type of css properties to work with flex container.

CSS flexbox flex-direction Property

We use the flex-direction property to specify the direction of flexible boxes inside a container. Flex-direction has four values.

flex-direction: row | column | row-reverse | column-reverse;

How do we use it? Let’s see the code. By default, flex-direction has value set to row already. If you specify flex-direction: row; then it will look like this below.

flex-direction: row;

css flexbox direction row

If we change flex-direction to row-reverse then all the flexible items in the container will be in the reverse direction.

flex-direction: row-reverse;

css flexbox flex direction row reverse

If we change it to column then all the flex items show in the vertical direction.

flex-direction: column;

css flexbox direction column

flex-direction: column-reverse;

css flexbox direction column reverse

CSS flexbox wrap

By using flex-wrap property, you can wrap your flex items. It has 3 values.

flex-wrap: wrap | nowrap | wrap-reverse;

It useful for responsive layouts. Whenever we resize our screen size or in the small screen sizes, the flex items automatically adjust its position.

Note: By default, flex-wrap is set to nowrap.

Example: I have created six flex items to clearly demonstrate you. When we set flex-wrap to wrap then the flex items are automatically adjusts.

flex-wrap: wrap;

css flexbox flex wrap

If specify flex-wrap: nowrap; then

flex wrap nowrap

flex-wrap: wrap-reverse;

flex wrap wrap reverse

CSS flex-flow Property

In CSS flexbox, flex-flow is a shorthand property for both flex-direction & flex-wrap. When we use this property then first we specify the flex-direction and then flex-wrap value. Like in this example below.

flex flow row wrap

CSS justify-content Property

By using justify-content property, we can horizontally align the flex-items. It has 5 values.

justify-content: center | flex-start | flex-end | space-between | space-around;

justify content property
justify content flex start in css
justify content flex end in css
justify content to space between in css

To specify space around the flex items.

justify content to space around in css

CSS align-items Property

This property is use for aligning flex items vertically. Four type of values that you can use.

align-items: center | flex-start | flex-end | stretch | baseline;

One more thing, you must use the height property to specify the height of your flex container to see the effect. So lets the examples.

align-items: center;

css align items property to center

Use align-items: flex-start; to show the flex items at start.

align items to flex start in css

align-items: flex-end;

align items to flex end in css

And align-items: stretch; is use to stretch the flex items.

align items to stretch in css

align-items: baseline;

This property will affect only if you change font sizes of flex items. Like in this image below.

align items to baseline in css

CSS align-content Property

This property is use for aligning the flex lines in a flex container. It has four values like other two properties.

align-content: space-between | space-around | flex-start | flex-end | center;

Let’s see the examples of this. In these examples, I will create 12 flex items to clearly demonstrate align-content property. And listen, you have to use flex-wrap property first to see the effect.

To specify the space around the flex lines, we use align-content: space-around; property.

align content to space around in css

align-content: space-between;

align content to space between in css

To center the flex lines, we use align-content: center; property.

align content to center in css

align-content: flex-start;

align content to flex start in css

align-content: flex-end;

align content to flex end in css

Flex Items (Child Elements) – inside flex container

In CSS flexbox, flex items are child elements of the flex container. And these are inside of flex container. As we saw in the previous examples, the purple boxes are flex items.

Properties use for flex items:

CSS Flexbox items “order” Property

We use order property to specify the order of flex items. As in the example below, see the order of flex items before the change.

items order

If we change the order of the flex items then it will look like this below. Instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, the order is changed and it is 2, 4, 3, 1. And listen, the order must have value in numbers.

items order changed

CSS flex-grow Property

To specify how much flex item should grow, we use the flex-grow property. The value of flex-grow will be in numbers.

flex grow property

CSS flex-shrink Property

To shrink the flex item, we use flex-shrink property.

CSS flex-basis Property

We use flex-basis to specify the initial length of the flex item.

flex basis property

CSS flex Property – in CSS flexbox

The CSS flex property is the shorthand property for flex-grow, flex-shrink and flex-basis. The syntax of flex property is.

.flex-items{
 flex: 0 0 100px;
  /*----
  Here 
  first value is flex-grow.
  Second value is for flex-shrink.
  And Third value is for flex-basis. Like this
  flex: flex-grow-value flex-shrink-value flex-bais-value;
  ----- */
}

CSS align-self Property

We use the align-self property to specify the alignment of the flex item inside the flex container. You must have to specify the height of the flex container to see the effect. So let’s see the example below.

align self property

Also, it has 3 types of values that we can use.

align-self: center | flex-start | flex-end;

So, this is all about CSS flexbox. I hope this guide will be helpful for you. If you have any questions related to this then please leave a comment below.

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