Flex-flow: Combining flex-direction and flex-wrap

The Flex-flow container combines flex-direction and flex-wrap. Learning flex-flow gives us the opportunity to set up your Flexbox containers in a compact way.

As flex-direction and flex-wrap often come hand in hand, a useful shorthand lets us specify them in one single rule.

flex-direction and flex-flow values

As a reminder, let’s summarize the possible flex-direction and flex-flow values.

The flex-direction property can take four possible values:

  • row: this is the default value, you don’t need to set it manually. Elements flow from left to right. The main axis is horizontal, the cross axis is vertical.
  • row-reverse: Elements flow from right to left. The main axis is horizontal, and the cross axis is vertical just like in the case of the row value.
  • column: Elements flow from top to bottom. The main axis is vertical, and the cross axis is horizontal.
  • column-reverse: Elements flow from bottom to top. The main axis is vertical and the cross axis is horizontal.

The flex-wrap property can take three possible values:

  • nowrap is the default value. Using this value, Flexbox does not add a line break and fits everything in one line.
  • wrap adds a line break once you run out of available space. The line break happens from top to bottom.
  • wrap-reverse does the same as wrap except that the order of lines is reversed along the cross axis.

Introducing flex-flow

The flex-flow property takes two values:

  1. the flex-direction property value,
  2. the flex-wrap property value.

As we have not seen the wrap-reverse value in action yet, we will concentrate on this value in the below examples.

flex-flow example

We will use the same container as in the previous lesson.

<div class="container">
  <div class="blogpost">Post 1</div>
  <div class="blogpost">Post 2</div>    
  <div class="blogpost">Post 3</div>
  <div class="blogpost">Post 4</div>
  <div class="blogpost">Post 5</div>    
  <div class="blogpost">Post 6</div>
  <div class="blogpost">Post 7</div>

We will not use breakpoints this time. The dimensions of the blog post container shrinks too:

.container {
  display: flex;
  flex-flow: row wrap-reverse;
  justify-content: flex-start;
  margin: 0 auto;
  width: 100%;
  max-width: 825px;

.blogpost {
  box-sizing: border-box;
  border: 1px solid black;
  background-color: lightgrey;
  width: 100%;
  width: 125px;
  height: 75px;
  margin: 15px;

Notice the flex-flow: row wrap-reverse; rule. This rule is equivalent to:

  flex-direction: row; 
  flex-wrap: wrap-reverse;

Obviously, flex-direction: row; is optional, because unless we override another value, the default value does not need to be mentioned.

Therefore, we will also add a second variant:

  flex-flow: row-reverse wrap-reverse;

Let’s see the example:

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