A large change was made to the way Chrome records underlying layout shifts which contribute to Cumulative Layout Shift in Chrome 86. The source code of the change is here.
The goal of the change was to better align the implementation to the specification, which says:
The visual representation of a Node N is defined as follows:
- If N is an Element which generates one or more boxes, the visual representation of N is the set of all points that lie within the bounds of any fragment of any box generated by N, in the coordinate space of the viewport, excluding any points that lie outside of the viewport.
- If N is a text node, the visual representation of N is the set of all points that lie within the bounds of any line box generated by N, in the coordinate space of the viewport, excluding any points that lie outside of the viewport.
This change has a few different impacts.
First, it no longer reports layout shifts from ink overflows, which should improve Cumulative Layout Shift scores on pages with hover effects.
Second, when text shifts, the area shifted is the containing block starting from the LayoutText moved, with the logical height of the text (source code for using the logical height here). This will have a small impact on the score in some cases.
Third, there has been a change to how the area of the impact fraction is computed. In Chrome 85 and below, when content overflowed the parent element, each descendant area was counted separately, using each element's border box. As of Chrome 86, the implementation has been updated to conform with the spec, by using the layout overflow rect, which contains all points that lie in the bounds of any fragment box. In both cases, the rects are still clipped to the viewport:
Unfortunately, there is a problem in the specification that was only uncovered as the change rolled out to stable. It occurs in cases when a shifted node's positioned descendants overflow on the other side of the viewport. The intersection of the viewport and the layout overflow rect can be larger than the visible shift, as in this example below:
The issue has been fixed on chromium trunk (source code here), but the fix will not roll out to stable until Chrome 87.
Sites with hover effects can expect to see small improvements on their Cumulative Layout Shift Scores.
Sites with absolutely positioned content with negative offsets outside the viewport will see large regressions in their Cumulative Layout Shift scores until the fix rolls out to stable.
You can test the fix on Chrome Canary version 88.0.4307.0 or later. You can navigate to
If your CLS score returns to expected levels with the fix, there is no need to make changes to your site to address the metric changes in Chrome 86.
Most users were updated to Chrome 86 the week of October 19, 2020.