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Can I create an HTML Background with an inline Image?

I'm working on a site for some clients, and one of their complaints was that the left nav bar was not extending the full height of the page. The nav div was set to expand to its content, which meant it stopped when it ran out of content. On some pages it looked fine, on others the nav bar ended too early. As a programmer, I don't often deal with design issues like this, so I pulled in the project's designer and we put our heads together to find a solution.

First, the problem was very generically like this:


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
<meta charset="UTF-8">
<title>Title</title>
<style>
body {
margin : 0px;
}
.nav{
background-color : #0000FF;
width : 200px;
height : 50%;
color : #ffffff;
}
.nav a {
color : #ffffff;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>
<div class="nav">
Some info in the nav bar<br/>
<A href="">Some Link</A>
</div>
</body>
</html>

Our code was much more complicated, using Flexbox for complicated layouts, but this is simple enough example to demonstrate the problem. We were not able to use a simple height:100% in CSS because some parent containers used Flexbox styling and did not stretch the full height of the page.

My designer friend recommended tiling a background image. We can change the CSS for the body tag to something like this:


body {
margin : 0px;
background: top left url(blue1x200.png) repeat-y;
}

The blue1x200.png is an image with just the color blue in it which has a height of 1 pixel and a width of 200 pixels. The repeat-y clarification tells the browser to repeat this image on the y axis, meaning up and down.

This solved our issue, so whatever was happening to the page nav or the page content it would not prevent the left 200 pixels on the page from showing up the same color as the background.

Using the url attribute to the background CSS will force the page to spawn another HTTP request to load the image. My designer had a trick for that too. He converted the image to a Base64 string representation and replaced the URL:


background: top left url('data:image/png;base64,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') repeat-y;

The encoded image looks like a lot of gobblygook, but the browser treats it as an image without having to make a new request to load something from the server. Check out the code.

You can use a site like this to convert your image toBase64.

If you've been doing Web Development for a long time, this sort of technique is probably not new to you, however I had never seen someone encode the images and include it in-line before. It's a cool technique.

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