GSAP library – sensible GSAP animation tutorial and examples

If there solely was a technique to create spectacular JavaScript animations simply and with out having to fret about browser compatibility… oh wait, there’s one! Or maybe multiple. At this time, you’ll see tips on how to develop such animations with the GreenSock Animation Platform, or GSAP. Why did I select this one? How does it actually work? What can it do for you? Let’s discover out.

Have you ever ever labored on a challenge which required you to create complicated animations in a JavaScript software that depends on frequent consumer interactions?

I simply have. At this time I’m going to let you know extra a few device that made this expertise rather more attention-grabbing.

The problem

My newest expertise with JavaScript animations happened when considered one of our shoppers requested my staff to develop a brand new function for his or her extremely safe software. It was imagined to be one thing akin to a lock display screen.

Should you ever used a banking software in your life, you undoubtedly acknowledge the display screen that reveals up if you find yourself logged out of your session because of a interval of inactivity.

This one labored very similar to that, aside from one small element.

The distinction was that as a substitute of being logged out fully, you get a lock display screen with an choice to return to the app by writing your PIN quantity.


I admit that in apply, it quantities to just about the identical factor for the consumer. From a technical standpoint, it’s a totally different conduct as you don’t have to sort in your full credentials.

Other than safety, the shopper vastly valued one other side of their app – its look. The challenge was designed with nice care and a spotlight to element. It included complicated and effectively–optimized animations. The lock display screen was to be no totally different.

What does it imply?

It implies that I wanted to provide you with some actually nice-looking JavaScript animations!

Why the GSAP library?

JavaScript-based animations aren’t a simple topic. The very first thing that got here to my thoughts was to discover a library that might make the event sooner. Caring for numerous browser inconsistencies in rendering JS animations was one other vital goal. Lengthy story quick, I picked the GreenSock Animation Platform (GSAP). 🧦

GSAP is a strong JavaScript library and a strong JavaScript toolset that makes it simpler to create skilled grade animation. You need to use it to design all types of JS animations, starting from easy manipulations of particular person DOM components to complicated results that contain a number of segments triggered at particular moments. Such results embrace:

  • Progressively revealing or hiding SVG strokes to attain the impact of drawing in real-time (the DrawSVGPlugin plugin).
  • Turning (morphing) one SVG form into one other easily (MorphSVGPlugin).
  • Shifting generic objects alongside a predetermined path (MotionPathPlugin).

GSAP provides you exact management over CSS properties, making it attainable to create skilled grade animations. It additionally offers superior playback controls and accessibility pleasant animations. This explicit library met the necessities of the challenge better of all out there choices for a few causes:

  • It makes it attainable to implement all varieties of animations that have been related to the challenge.
  • It may well animate something JavaScript, that’s, any numerical property of JavaScript or a given object.
  • GSAP is so complete that it could possibly animate any CSS/JS property supported by a given browser.
  • After which, there’s the group. The authors created a dialogue discussion board that over time produced a bigger consumer base. It’s actually vibrant, full of individuals prepared and in a position to assist. 
  • And contemplating the reputation of GSAP, there aren’t that many points chances are you’ll come throughout that weren’t already addressed earlier than.
The GSAP official web site includes a showcase stuffed with examples of spectacular GSAP-based animations

You possibly can add GSAP to your challenge in varied methods – by importing native recordsdata, by way of npm, or through the use of CDN (“ ajax libs gsap”).

GSAP animations weren’t the one various I thought of.

GSAP options

One other answer I thought of is anime.js. It may need nice potential, however its downside is the shortage of steady help for the library. The software program has not been up to date for nearly 2 years. And whereas it nonetheless works simply wonderful, and there’s no clear indication that the library was deserted, I can’t assist however be cautious of that state of affairs.

Anime.js is a light-weight open-source JavaScript animation library that gives lots of the options supplied by GSAP

When engaged on massive and scalable techniques, such because the one I’m tackling on this case examine, that you must have full confidence in all of the third-party options you employ.

In that regard, GSAP was a transparent winner when in comparison with options reminiscent of anime.js or Animate css.

Helpful GSAP sources

As I mentioned, GSAP offers lots of sources that make your introduction to the library smoother. I extremely suggest you attempt these:

The GSAP documentation offers tons of useful info and nice developer expertise due to quite a lot of interactive examples and clear content material construction

Alright! With that mentioned, I assume we will lastly check out the library itself.

How does GSAP work? GSAP tutorial

Earlier than I get again to the challenge, I’m going to offer you a fast overview of the idea to be able to create animations like this your self.


The tween

Whenever you begin with GSAP, one of many first ideas you study is the tween. That is the constructing block of any GSAP-based work.

The tween is one unit of animation. You possibly can provoke it in 3 ways:

  1. – all you establish are the ending CSS values your object is to be animated into.
  2. gsap.fromTo() – you establish each beginning and ending CSS values of your animations.
  3. gsap.from() – you solely decide beginning values (the ending values will probably be inherited from default CSS kinds).

I sorted the record above, ranging from people who I really feel are used probably the most for tweens. 

Let’s check out an instance of a tween primarily based on the operate.

A HTML factor is the primary argument of the operate. To do the identical in React, you’ll sometimes flip to useRef. Along with the factor itself, you may also reference an ID or HTML class. That offers you loads of choices to get to components by which including a ref is troublesome. A great instance of such components might be SVGs imported from belongings and used as common React parts.

The second argument used here’s a choice of animation properties. The whole record of properties clearly consists of all the CSS properties. As well as, GSAP gives lots of customized properties. It additionally consists of callbacks, which function one thing of a bridge between the world of animation and JavaScript. Because of callbacks, animation occasions can set off some secondary results.

Probably the most attention-grabbing and most used properties is autoAlpha. When set to 0, it combines the results of opacity set to 0 and visibility set to hidden.

Timeline animations

Let’s say you wish to develop a extra complicated animation with GSAP. It is best to begin by studying extra about timeline animation, which is basically a cluster of tweens. GSAP makes it attainable to make use of superior sequencing in a timeline to attain nice management over particular person tweens. Let’s check out an instance of such superior sequencing.

Let’s modify the earlier instance by breaking it into two separate phases. Every stage is a separate tween and the entire piece of code is a timeline.

Not too onerous, isn’t it?

You may need seen an extra argument within the final tween – +=0.5. Whenever you use tweens inside a timeline, you possibly can add time modifiers. The one above implies that the animation will execute half a second after the earlier one is accomplished.

Again to the challenge – a sensible GSAP case examine

That’s it for the essential concept. At this level, you ought to be greater than acquainted sufficient with GSAP to dive deeper into my challenge. To make it slightly simpler, nonetheless, let’s put apart the problem of safety and focus fully on the animations.

However what sort of animation tutorial would it not be with out one thing so that you can click on at? To make it extra attention-grabbing, I ready a reside animation instance in CodeSandbox. I extremely encourage you to play with it a bit.

In an actual challenge, I exploit the GSAP bundle. This time, I’ll use the gsap-trial bundle that’s solely supposed for experimentation. It consists of varied bonus recordsdata, a few of which you usually have to pay for. I’ll get again to the topic of plugins later. For now, let’s deal with the code.

On this simplified instance, the display screen is blocked once you click on the button.

The mechanism is as follows:

  1. Whenever you click on the button, you set off the animation.
  2. The curtains present up.
  3. Then, the padlock locks.
  4. The keyhole turns crimson.
  5. As a way to unlock it, you click on the padlock once more.
  6. The animation is triggered once more, however it’s now in reverse.

The complete course of takes place contained in the ScreenLocker element.

For starters, that you must declare your refs after which insert them into correct tags.

Inside my ref, I put not solely my HTML and SVG components, however the timeline as effectively. Because of that, it gained’t should be created a number of occasions when the element’s logic will get extra complicated. The timeline is ready to paused by default in order that it doesn’t launch proper after it’s outlined.

Subsequent, I have to set the preliminary values of all components. It’s vital to do it initially to have just one supply of fact relating to these values. I actually can’t stress sufficient simply how vital it’s. Oftentimes, considered one of my teammates would set a CSS worth, would NOT inform anybody about this, after which overlook about the entire thing the following day. After which – the animation misbehaves and no one is aware of why. A single supply of fact (in time and within the flesh) actually does make a distinction.

I have to make it possible for my refs aren’t null throughout the initialization.

Then, I can set all of the required properties. As you possibly can see within the final gsap.set, the values aren’t restricted to strings and numbers. A operate is one other widespread choice. You need to use it to execute some calculations primarily based on different sources.

As you possibly can see, an array of components can be allowed. It provides you much more choices. For instance, you possibly can set totally different values relying on whether or not the array factor is odd and even.

On this instance, the curtain is to maneuver to the left for the primary factor (index=0) after which to the correct for the second factor (index=1).

Now, I’m going to implement the lock display screen timeline.

It’s important for the useEffect or useLayoutEffect hooks, by which I outlined the timeline, to execute solely as soon as. In any other case, every subsequent callback execution will trigger the timelines to stack up.

The timeline consists of 5 tweens:

  1. The curtains transfer inwards.
  2. Concurrently (due to the < modifier), the padlock reveals up.
  3. 0,2 second after the earlier tween concludes, the padlock deal with goes again to the closed place after which bounces again barely, simulating how a padlock sometimes closes. This rebounding impact is created with the easing.
  4. Lastly, the keyhole turns crimson to point that the display screen is now locked.

The useEffect hook comprises extra info on the conduct of the timeline: 

In case of issues with React 18 and timelines stacking up within the dev mode, it’s really helpful to show off the StrictMode.

And that’s it for the challenge! As soon as you realize all of the fundamentals, you may be effectively outfitted to make animations reminiscent of these I confirmed you. And everytime you run into hassle, it is best to check out the docs. It’s very complete and even features a widespread errors part. Should you ever spent any significant time making an attempt to make a JavaScript animation work, you’ll actually respect it.

Prolong GSAP capabilities with plugins

This tutorial wouldn’t be full and not using a phrase or two about plugins. In any case, whereas I intentionally didn’t use them in my easy instance, they’re a particularly vital and helpful side of utilizing GSAP in apply. 

There are two plugins that I discover notably attention-grabbing:


This appropriately named GSAP plugin makes it attainable to set off sure animations and callbacks once you execute corresponding scroll occasions. For instance, once you scroll your means into a particular space of your app, depart it, or enter it from the highest.


One other sensible plugin is Draggable. And it’s one other one which acquired a extremely applicable identify, because it makes a speciality of producing the dragging impact for HTML components. All it takes is a brief little bit of code:

With this straightforward hook, you may make every HTML factor draggable. Right here is how you should use it in apply:

The hook returns a ref, which you’ll insert into the factor of your HTML file.

That’s the gist of it. After all, you possibly can develop this idea by altering how the draggable impact is meant to work. You need to use it:

  • On the X-axis.
  • On the Y-axis.
  • Or by rotating a single factor.

Draggable works effectively with the paid Inertia plugin. When mixed collectively, you possibly can enrich the dragging impact with spectacular finishes, reminiscent of having a component glide to a cease in a clean means. You possibly can check it with gsap-trial.

Classes discovered – why and when to make use of the GSAP library

GSAP has lots of advantages:

  • It’s actually intuitive and simple to make use of.
  • The animations made with GSAP are well-optimized out-of-the-box.
  • The group is massive and actually useful.
  • The docs is an actual standout. 

Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply that GSAP is your best option for each challenge. 

Use it for apps that require a number of components, excessive efficiency animations, the necessity for movement paths, and anything that permits entrance finish builders to attain superior results simply.

I might not suggest it for apps that solely sport probably the most fundamental animations. In such initiatives, the overhead brought on by together with GSAP is not going to be definitely worth the contribution it makes. In any case, a library as strong and highly effective as this one has to weigh a bit. Within the case of GSAP, the burden is about 60kB when minified and 25kB when minified and gzipped. And that’s for the essential model with out plugins. It’s considerably similar to the JavaScript utility library Lodash.

Along with that, for easy animations, the quantity of code generated with GSAP is perhaps greater than with pure CSS.

 If all you need is so as to add a few fundamental results, you actually need to investigate if including such a dependency is a good suggestion.

Supply: Reddit

Aside from that, GSAP actually does ship on its guarantees, offering you with spectacular and well-optimized animations on your customized software program challenge. It’s additionally actually enjoyable to make use of. 

However don’t take me at my phrase – attempt the GSAP sandbox and discover out for your self!


1 thought on “GSAP library – sensible GSAP animation tutorial and examples

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