Infinite scroll

Infinite scroll

Updated

This infinite scroll implementation is designed to ensure that there are never any layout shifts - regardless of how long it takes the server to respond with new content.

One of the most common issues with many infinite scroll implementations is that the page footer (or similar UX element) gets pushed further down the page whenever new items are added. With this infinite scroll implementation, this never occurs.

High-level approach

Whenever possible, new items are inserted into the page before the user reaches them. Because this insertion happens offscreen (and is not visible to the user), the user experiences no layout shifts.

In the event that new content cannot be inserted in time, a "Show More" button is displayed instead. However, the button is enabled only when new items are ready to be displayed - this ensures that the user does not click the button only to find that nothing happens. Thus, regardless of how slowly the server responds with new content (or how quickly the user scrolls), there will never be any unexpected layout shifts.

Implementation

The Intersection Observer API is a performant way of monitoring the position and visibility of page elements. This design is implemented using two separate intersertion observers:

  • listObserver observes the position of the #infinite-scroll-button that is located at the end of the infinite scroll list. When the button is nearing the viewport, uninserted content is added to the DOM.
  • sentinelObserver observes the position of the #sentinel element. When the sentinel becomes visible, more content is requested from the server. Adjusting the position of the sentinel is a way of controlling how far in advance that new content should be requested from the server.

This is not the only way to address layout shifts stemming from use of infinite scroll. Other ways to approach this problem include switching to pagination, using list virtualization, and adjusting page layouts.

<div id="infinite-scroll-container">
    <div id="sentinel"></div>
    <div class="item">A</div>
    <div class="item">B</div>
    <div class="item">C</div>
    <div class="item">D</div>
    <div class="item">E</div>
    <button id="infinite-scroll-button" disabled>
        <span class="disabled-text">Loading more items...</span>
        <span class="active-text">Show more</span>
    </button>
</div>
function infiniteScroll() {
    let responseBuffer = [];
    let hasMore;
    let requestPending = false;
    const loadingButtonEl = document.querySelector('#infinite-scroll-button');
    const containerEl = document.querySelector('#infinite-scroll-container');
    const sentinelEl = document.querySelector("#sentinel");
    const insertNewItems = () => {
        while (responseBuffer.length > 0) {
            const data = responseBuffer.shift();
            const el = document.createElement("div");
            el.textContent = data;
            el.classList.add("item");
            el.classList.add("new");
            containerEl.insertBefore(el, loadingButtonEl);
            console.log(`inserted: ${data}`);
        }
        sentinelObserver.observe(sentinelEl);
        if (hasMore === false) {
            loadingButtonEl.style = "display: none";
            sentinelObserver.unobserve(sentinelEl);
            listObserver.unobserve(loadingButtonEl);
        }
        loadingButtonEl.disabled = true
    }
    loadingButtonEl.addEventListener("click", insertNewItems);
    const requestHandler = () => {
        if (requestPending) return;
        console.log("making request");
        requestPending = true;
        fakeServer.fakeRequest().then((response) => {
            console.log("server response", response);
            requestPending = false;
            responseBuffer = responseBuffer.concat(response.items);
            hasMore = response.hasMore;
            loadingButtonEl.disabled = false;;
        });
    }
    const sentinelObserver = new IntersectionObserver((entries, observer) => {
        entries.forEach(entry => {
            if (entry.intersectionRatio > 0) {
                observer.unobserve(sentinelEl);
                requestHandler();
            }
        });
    });
    const listObserver = new IntersectionObserver((entries, observer) => {
        entries.forEach(entry => {
            if (entry.intersectionRatio > 0 && entry.intersectionRatio < 1) {
                insertNewItems();
            }
        });
    }, {
        rootMargin: "0px 0px 200px 0px"
    });
    sentinelObserver.observe(sentinelEl);
    listObserver.observe(loadingButtonEl);
}
infiniteScroll();
:root {
    --active-button-primary: #0080ff;
    --active-button-font:#ffffff;
    --disabled-button-primary: #f5f5f5;
    --disabled-button-secondary: #c4c4c4;
    --disabled-button-font: #000000;
}
#infinite-scroll-container {
    position: relative;
}
#sentinel {
    position: absolute;
    bottom: 150vh;
}
#infinite-scroll-button {
    cursor: pointer;
    border: none;
    padding: 1em;
    width: 100%;
    font-size: 1em;
}
#infinite-scroll-button:enabled {
    color: var(--active-button-font);
    background-color: var(--active-button-primary)
}
#infinite-scroll-button:disabled {
    color: var(--disabled-button-font);
    background-color: var(--disabled-button-primary);
    cursor: not-allowed;
    animation: 3s ease-in-out infinite loadingAnimation;
}
#infinite-scroll-button:enabled .disabled-text {
    display: none;
}
#infinite-scroll-button:disabled .active-text {
    display: none;
}
@keyframes loadingAnimation {
    0% {
        background-color: var(--disabled-button-primary);
    }
    50% {
        background-color: var(--disabled-button-secondary);
    }
    100% {
        background-color: var(--disabled-button-primary);
    }
}
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