Practical applications

So now that we have learned a bit about how flexbox works, what practical applications does it have in web design?


Vertically centering elements has long been a problematic process, usually ending in using some nasty combination of positioning or just using tables. With flexbox, however, vertical alignment is trivial, and independent of sibling elements.

.container {
    display: flex;
    align-items: center;
    justify-content: center;
This item is centered!

The Holy Grail layout

One of the most sought after web design layouts, often known as the holy grail of layouts fulfils the following:

Doing this usually relies on hacks such as faux-columns using repeating background images, over-the-top nesting of divs and some combination of floats or positions. Using flexbox a much easier solution is possible.

.container { display: flex; }
.grail-nav { order: -1; }
.grail-content { flex-grow: 1; }
.grail-ads {
    flex-shrink: 0;
    flex-basis: 200px;
<div class="grail">
    <main class="grail-content">…</main>
    <nav class="grail-nav">…</nav>
    <aside class="grail-ads">…</aside>

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Further reading