Yeah, all css solutions are possible, but an effective one (which would work well cross-browser without too much hacking) needs to have a fixed width container... and that width needs to change based on the content fed to it so the use of php was the best way to go IMO. (I don't say that to rebuke you, but more as a general insider thing - and Vaska will say I just like to brag!)
And, of course, I'm glad you build your template on top of my work. I do not see it as trying to replace Crabs. I think the next iteration of crabs will put all the configurable data as vars or constants at the top of the template so that users can adjust paddings and such all in one cozy place in the file... or maybe an external include... we'll have to see about that. This will go with indexhibit's next update I would say.
Now if I can bring some more constructive criticism.
- go with an all jquery solution - I agree with Vaska on this.
- I would be very careful, even with a TUI (tactile user interface -right?), to not drop every navigation support provided by the browser (read scroll-bars) without providing more feedback to the user about your navigation. At this point, your small mention of the dragging possibility in your menu is, at best, obscure. Try using a changing cursor on the draggable area... visual feedbacks on rollover... Anything can be good, show us something clever and that we can know without a doubt that this is how it has to be used. You could also read about "visual affordance" too if you care to get more insights on how you can let your user know how they should go about to achieve what they want to do and what your interface is offering them to achieve their "goal".
Does that make me a "weird-design-communication-max/msp-opensourced-genius" ?