Technology Musings

June 10, 2010

Snippets / Cross-browser DIV Rotation by arbitrary degrees in CSS and/or javascript


I've spent most of the day on this, so I thought I would share.  Most people don't know this, but CSS3 has some *really* cool stuff coming - auto-rounded corners, gradients, and.... DIV rotations!  Unfortunately, it will be about 5 years before any of this becomes mainstream.  IE8 only has the very beginnings of CSS3 support.

So is there any way to get this on current browsers?  Yes!  The fine folks at have given us a way to do some of these cool effects using existing CSS.  If you just want, just go their, edit the stylesheet on the web page (yes! it is editable!), and copy/paste the resulting CSS into your CSS file.

But what if you want dynamic rotation?  Well, I looked at the CSS3Please source code, and figured out how it was all being calculated.  The IE6, IE7, and IE8 part is the worst, because it relies on a DirectX Matrix transform operation (isn't Internet Explorer always fun to work with?).  Not superfun, but do-able.  However, to get this calculated, we will need a Matrix library.  So, first, download and install the sylvester javascript library.  Then, put this javascript into your page:

<script src="sylvester.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
function degreesToRadians(num) {
	return (num) * Math.PI / 180;
function createIEMatrixString(M) {
	return 'M11=' + M.e(1, 1) + ', M12=' + M.e(1,2) + ', M21=' + M.e(2,1) + ', M22=' + M.e(2,2);
function rotateElement(e, deg) {
	deg_str = deg + "";
	rotate_transform = "rotate(" + deg + "deg)";
	matrix_str = createIEMatrixString(Matrix.Rotation(degreesToRadians(deg)));
	filter_str = "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Matrix(sizingMethod='auto expand', " + matrix_str + ")";["rotation"] = deg_str + "deg"; // CSS3 = rotate_transform; // Moz = rotate_transform; // Opera = rotate_transform; // Webkit/Safari/Chrome = filter_str; // IE 6/7 = filter_str; // IE 8["zoom"] = "1"; // ??? Probably IEs

Now, you can just do:

rotateElement(document.getElementById("whatever"), 20);

And that will rotate the element.  Note that this *sets* the rotation, so if I do this several times it will only keep the rotation at what I set it to, it won't keep on adding rotations.

Anyway, a little bit of work, a little bit of code for your client to download, but it works.

UPDATE - just found this jquery plugin that *might* do something similar, but haven't looked at it closely yet.