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  1. Note: This page was created for GSAP version 2. We have since released GSAP 3 with many improvements. While it is backward compatible with most GSAP 2 features, some parts may need to be updated to work properly. Please see the GSAP 3 release notes for details. As the author of GSAP I'm sometimes asked if the Web Animations API (WAAPI) will be used under the hood eventually. My responses have gotten pretty long so I thought I'd share my findings with everyone here. Hopefully this sheds light on the challenges we face and perhaps it can lead to some changes to WAAPI in the future. WAAPI is a native browser technology that's similar to CSS animations, but for JavaScript. It's much more flexible than CSS animations and it taps into the same mechanisms under the hood so that the browser can maximize performance. Support is a bit spotty right now and there are multiple levels to the spec, so some browsers may support only "level 1", for example, but the hope is that eventually all major browsers will support WAAPI fully. Progress in that direction has been very, very slow. You could think of WAAPI almost like a browser-level GSAP with a bunch of features stripped out. This has led some to suggest that perhaps GSAP should be built on TOP of WAAPI to reduce file size and maximize performance. Ideally, people could tap into the rich GSAP API with all of its extra features while benefiting from the browser's native underpinnings wherever possible. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, WAAPI has some critical weak spots that make it virtually impossible for GSAP to leverage it under the hood (at least in any practical manner). I don't mean that as a criticism of WAAPI. In fact, I really wanted to find a way to leverage it inside GSAP, but I'll list a few of the top reasons why it doesn't seem feasible below. To be clear, this is NOT a feature comparison or a bunch of reasons why GSAP is "better" - these are things that make it architecturally impossible (or very cumbersome) to build GSAP on WAAPI. Custom easing WAAPI only supports cubic-bezier() for custom easing, meaning it's limited to one segment with two control points. It can't support eases like Bounce, Elastic, Rough, SlowMo, wiggle, ExpoScaleEase, etc. GSAP must support all of those eases plus any ease imaginable (unlimited segments and control points - see https://greensock.com/customease). This alone is a deal-breaker. Expressive animation hinges on rich easing options. Independent transform components The most commonly animated values are translation (x/y position), rotation, and scale (all transform-related) but you cannot control them independently with CSS or WAAPI. For example, try moving (translate) something and then halfway through start rotating it and stagger a scale toward the end: |-------- translateX() ------------| |------ rotate() ------| |---------- translateY() -----------| |-------------- scale(x,y) --------------| Animators NEED to be able to independently control these values in their animations. Additive animations (composite:"add") probably aren't an adequate solution either. It's unrealistic to expect developers to track all the values manually or assume that stacking them on top of each other will deliver expected results - they should be able to just affect the rotation (or whatever) at any time, even if there was a translate() or scale() applied previously. GSAP could track everything for them, of course, but continuously stacking transforms on top of each other seems very inefficient and I imagine it'd hurt performance (every transform is another matrix concatenation under the hood). There is a new spec being proposed for translate, scale, and rotate CSS properties which would certainly help, but it's not a full solution because you still can't control the x/y components independently, or all of the 3D values like rotationX, rotationY, z, etc. This is an essential feature of GSAP that helped it become so popular. Example See the Pen Independent Transforms Demo by GreenSock (@GreenSock) on CodePen. Custom logic on each tick Certain types of animations require custom logic on each tick (like physics or custom rounding/snapping or morphing). Most GSAP plugins rely on this sort of thing (ModifiersPlugin, for example). I'm pretty sure that's impossible with WAAPI, especially with transforms being spun off to a different thread (any dependencies on JS-based logic would bind it to the main thread). Non-DOM targets As far as I know, WAAPI doesn't let you animate arbitrary properties of generic objects, like {myProperty:0}. This is another fundamental feature of GSAP - people can use it to animate canvas library objects or generic objects...whatever. Global timing controls I don't think WAAPI lets you set a custom frame rate. Also, GSAP's lag smoothing feature requires the ability to tweak the global time (not timeScale - I mean literally the current time so that all the animations are pushed forward or backward). As far as I know, it's impossible with WAAPI. Synchronization (transforms and non-transforms) As demonstrated in this video, one of the hidden pitfalls of spinning transforms off to another thread is that they can lose synchronization with other main-thread-based animations. As far as I know, that hasn't been solved in all browsers. We can't afford to have things getting out-of-sync. Some have proposed that GSAP could just fall back to using a regular requestAnimationFrame loop to handle things that aren't adequately supported by WAAPI but that puts things at risk of falling out of sync. For example, if transforms are running on a separate thread they might keep moving while other parts of the animation (custom properties that get applied somehow in an onUpdate) slow down or jank. Compatibility GSAP has earned a reputation for "just working" across every browser. In order to deliver on that, we'd have to put extra conditional logic throughout GSAP, providing fallbacks when WAAPI isn't available or doesn't support a feature. That would balloon the file size substantially and slow things down. That's a tough pill to swallow. WAAPI still isn't implemented in several major browsers today. And then there are the browser inconsistencies (like the infamous SVG origin quirks) that will likely pop up over time and then we'd have to unplug those parts from WAAPI and maintain the legacy raw-JS mechanisms internally. Historically, there are plenty of cross-browser bugs in natively-implemented technologies, making it feel risky to build on top of. Performance WAAPI has a performance advantage because it can leverage a separate thread whereas JavaScript always runs on the main thread, right? Well, sort of. The only time a separate thread can be used is if transforms and/or opacity are the only things animating on a particular element (or else you run into synchronization issues). Plus there's overhead involved in managing that thread which can also get bogged down. There are tradeoffs either way. Having access to a different thread is fantastic even if it only applies in certain situations. That's probably the biggest reason I wanted to leverage WAAPI originally, but the limitations and tradeoffs are pretty significant, at least as it pertains to our goals with GSAP. Surprisingly, according to my tests GSAP was often faster than WAAPI. For example, in this speed test WAAPI didn't perform as well as GSAP on most devices I tried. Maybe performance will improve over time, but for now be sure to test to ensure that WAAPI is performing well for your animations. File Size To ensure compatibility, GSAP would need all of its current (non-WAAPI) code in place for fallbacks (most browsers won't fully support WAAPI for years) and then we'd need to layer in all the WAAPI-specific code on top of that like conditional logic checking for compatible eases, sensing when the user is attempting something WAAPI can't support, tracking/stacking additive animations, etc. That means file size would actually be far worse if GSAP were built on WAAPI. Some have suggested creating a different adapter/renderer for each tech, like a WebAnimationsAdapter. That way, we could segregate the logic and folks could just load it if they needed it which is clever but it doesn't really solve the problem. For example, some plugins may affect particular CSS properties or attributes, and at some point conditional logic would have to run to say "oh, if they're using the WebAnimationsAdapter, this part won't work so handle it differently". That conditional logic generally makes the most sense to have in the plugin itself (otherwise the adapter file would fill up with extra logic for every possible plugin, bloating file size unnecessarily and separating plugin logic from the plugin itself). So then if anyone uses that plugin, they'd pay a price for that extra logic that's along for the ride. Weighing the Pros & Cons At the end of the day, the list of "pros" must outweigh the "cons" for this to work, and currently that list is quite lopsided. I'd love to find a way to leverage any of the strengths of WAAPI inside GSAP for sure, but it just doesn't seem feasible or beneficial overall. The main benefit I see in using WAAPI inside GSAP is to get the off-the-main-thread-transforms juice but even that only seems useful in relatively uncommon scenarios, and it comes at a very high price. I'm struggling to find another compelling reason to build on WAAPI; GSAP already does everything WAAPI does plus a lot more. I'm hopeful that some of the WAAPI benefits will someday be possible directly in JS so that GSAP wouldn't have to create a dependency on WAAPI to get those. For example, browsers could expose an API that'd let developers tap into that off-the-main-thread transform performance. Ideally, browsers would also fix that hacky matrix()/matrix3d() string-based API and provide a way to set the numeric matrix values directly - that'd probably deliver a nice speed boost. Please chime in if I'm missing something, though. (Contact us or post in the forums) Why use GSAP even if/when WAAPI gets full browser support? Browser bugs/inconsistencies Lots of extra features like morphing, physics, Bezier tweening, text tweening, etc. Infinite easing options (Bounce, Elastic, Rough, SlowMo, ExpoScaleEase, Wiggle, Custom) Independent transform components (position, scale, rotation, etc.) Animate literally any property of any object (not just DOM) Timeline nesting (workflow) GSDevTools Relative values and overwrite management from() tweens are much easier - you don't need to get the current values yourself Familiar API Why WAAPI might be worth a try If you don’t need broad browser support today or any of GSAP’s unique features, you could save some kb by using WAAPI Solid performance, especially for transforms and opacity Always free Again, the goal of this article is NOT to criticize WAAPI at all. I think it's a great step forward for browsers. I just wanted to explain some of the challenges that prevent us from using it under the hood in GSAP, at least as it stands today. EDIT: Brian Birtles, one of the primary authors of the WAAPI spec, reached out and offered to work through the issues and try to find solutions (some of which may involve editing the spec itself) which is great. Rachel Nabors has also worked to connect people and find solutions. Although it may take years before it's realistic to consider building on WAAPI, it's reassuring to have so much support from leaders in the industry who are working hard to move animation forward on the web.
  2. Have you ever wondered why GreenSock doesn't use a more common open source license like MIT? Sometimes our licensing model is misunderstood but hopefully after reading this article you'll see why it is so foundational to the success of our tools and why it ultimately benefits users too. Open source is awesome! If you had to write and maintain your own jQuery or React or GSAP, could you do it? Would it be as refined and reliable? Probably not. How many times have you found a library or chunk of code on github that saved you hours of development time? Open source can be a quick path to great results. It also serves as a jumping-off point for up-and-coming developers to share their innovation, inspiring others to write better code. Open source is easily one of the most influential movements in the entire development community. We're certainly not anti-open-source. Quite the contrary. Open source is *not* always awesome Despite its strengths, there are some dark sides to open source. Many projects are riddled with bugs, poorly documented, and sometimes even dangerous to use. The web is littered with abandoned projects that once seemed promising. It's like a clearance bin you'd find at a discount store; there may be some treasures in there, but you'll have to dig through a lot of undesirables to find the gems. In an industry that's inundated weekly with "hot new" libraries, all just a click away for free, it can be tough to figure out which ones to gamble on. Commitment required(?) Some libraries are one-trick ponies that don't require ongoing commitment. For example, a math library that performs matrix operations or a formatting library. If the author abandons the project, it's no big deal. Other projects, like a full-featured animation library, are much more complex and leverage browser-level optimizations that are moving targets. Vendor-specific bugs need to be worked around or new browser features get introduced that beg to be animated. Plus, animation is the most performance-sensitive aspect of the user experience, so a commitment to ongoing optimization pays dividends. Beyond the code itself, what about community, documentation and examples? These become increasingly important as a library's feature set expands and companies standardize on it, needing to train new staff. Again, some projects have very little need for ongoing support but for GreenSock, it seemed essential. Hampered by success Paradoxically, success is the very thing that kills many open source projects because they don't have a funding mechanism to underwrite all the demands. The project that was once the twinkle in the author's eyes often ends up being a thorn in their side. They can't afford (or don't really want) to keep up with the demands. That's not to say that all open source projects suffer this fate. We have the utmost respect for open source authors, and we don't mean to diminish anyone's hard work or generosity. But there are some common frailties of open source projects in general that GreenSock aims to avoid. Having built and maintained a popular library for over a decade, we've learned that one of the most important factors in keeping a complex project like GSAP vibrant is the licensing model. Our goal was to make GreenSock tools not only accessible (which MIT does a great job of), but also sustainable, business-friendly, consistent, and respectful. We needed a license that would have the best chance of facilitating those goals, as described below: Sustainable Scores of animation libraries have come and gone over the years. We didn't want to be just another flash in the pan that ultimately leaves users feeling abandoned. Trust is paramount for us. We wanted the GreenSock brand to be associated with an exceptionally high level of commitment and reliability. Earning that trust requires a consistent, full-time effort so we considered these funding models: Self-funded - most open source projects are self-funded, meaning that the authors cover all the costs themselves, typically by donating their time and resources. It's noble and perfectly adequate for many projects. An MIT (or similar) license is a great fit because it allows an author to share code with almost zero strings attached. However, the commitment level tends to be unreliable and self-funded projects are rarely sustained long-term. With our particular project and goals, this wasn't a good fit. Corporate sponsorship - sometimes huge companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Facebook, or Google are willing to contribute funds to encourage a project. They usually have a vested interest in its success. For example, Adobe helps fund CreateJS which is a set of libraries that its very own Adobe Animate (formerly Flash) relies on. React is underwritten by Facebook. This can be a great way to offload development costs onto some deep-pocketed corporations, keeping it totally free for end users. The risk, however, is that if the project goals don't line up with the corporation's agenda (which can shift), funding gets yanked or the developers get pressured to go in a direction that may not be good for end users. If the company has a bad year, they may re-allocate resources. The project is ultimately beholden to a few key sponsors with potentially conflicting objectives. This wasn't something we were comfortable with although we acknowledge that it's a great solution for certain projects. Private investors - famo.us is probably the most well-known example of an "open source" project that took on private investors. A few years and $30,000,000+ later, it stopped development of its open source library and laid off a large chunk of its staff, deciding to "pivot" in a more profitable commercial direction. Private investors want a return on their investment (which is completely understandable) but an MIT license can make that very difficult because it leaves the IP (intellectual property) wide open for anyone to steal, including competitors. Similar to corporate sponsorship, projects who get their funding this way are beholden to a few key stakeholders who may have a very different agenda than end users. Again, this wasn't an ideal fit for GreenSock. User-funded - when funding comes directly from end users, it creates a wider base (more stable) and incentivizes the kind of innovation that end users actually care about, otherwise funding naturally dries up. That's a healthy dynamic for aligning agendas. Rather than serving a small set of outside investors looking for a return or a corporation with profit centers to bolster, end users play the central role. The downside, of course, is that certain features or use cases involve a fee. That can be a tough pill to swallow for some, especially when "free" MIT-licensed options abound. And it takes time to build up a wide base of users who literally "buy in". Trust and longevity are key. But a surprising number of users embrace this model because it allows them to "vote" with their dollars and participate in making a product they love continue to thrive. While this model certainly isn't for everyone, it has been a good fit for GreenSock. Accessible Sometimes we hear comments like "you can't use GreenSock in commercial projects without a license." WRONG. [loud buzzer noise]. Our license was designed to make the tools extremely accessible, even permitting usage in one-off commercial projects (where you get paid a one-time fee by a single client). And of course it's free to use in non-commercial projects (see licensing page for details). That way, a certain breed of power-user provides the funding that benefits everyone. An estimated 95%+ of our users never pay us a dime. So while a rare type of commercial project does require a "Business Green" Club GreenSock membership (which covers an unlimited number of projects while active), the vast majority of users never need that special license. This accessibility was a cornerstone of our approach. We didn't want to hide all the tools behind an intimidating paywall or make all commercial uses trigger a fee. Yet it couldn't be as unrestrained as MIT because that would create vulnerabilities for us and our users (as described in this article). Another way we keep the core tools accessible is by freely exposing the raw source code both on github and in our downloads. Users can peek under the hood and see how things work. That makes troubleshooting and learning much easier. We tried to strike a balance of openness and healthy insulation from the frailties of MIT. Business-friendly Most businesses are very concerned about IP infringement, lawsuits, and indemnification. The "no strings attached and no warranties" nature of MIT is both a strength and a weakness. It simplifies sharing, but what if an open source library leverages someone else's IP? What if it uses "copyleft" code that infects anything it touches, requiring that all projects using it be open-sourced as well? That could be a huge problem for businesses with proprietary tools in a competitive market. GreenSock's license doesn't have any attribution requirements, nor does it impose share-alike rules like GNU and Creative Commons. Furthermore, it contains warranties that aren't found in MIT-like licenses, making GreenSock more business-friendly. It survived the software audits and legal review process at reputable companies like Google, Sony, EA, Intel, every major ad network, and many others. This vetting is necessary in the business world where there is so much at stake. The license also allows for code edits to be made for bug fixes. Typically that's not necessary because we handle it as a part of our ongoing support efforts, but businesses appreciate knowing that if we relaxed those efforts, they'd still be able to get their project working if they ran into a bug and needed to squash it themselves. Consistent MIT-licensed projects spread on github where it's trivial to fork them and start making custom flavors. That's ideal for authors whose goal is to start something and then step back to let the community run with it. But that can lead to a lot of confusion as different flavors start popping up with incongruent feature sets and incompatibilities. Focus and direction are easily lost. If there's no driver (or too many drivers), it can be a scary ride for the passengers. We wanted the GreenSock brand to convey a certain level of consistency and reliability. That's part of the reason we don't generally accept pull requests - we keep a tight reign on the codebase so that we are intimately aware of every piece. That allows us to not only support it, but also stand behind our IP warranties. Respectful We believe that if we respect our users, they'll generally reciprocate that respect. Most people want to do the right thing. So we don't inject "phone home" code that reports usage or causes things to suddenly stop working when a membership expires. We don't force business customers register each user or enter serial numbers to activate seats. We don't limit installations or the number of projects that the license covers. We don't burn extra energy policing usage. We've never sued anyone. We funnel our energy into refining the tools, innovating, educating, and supporting our users. We put a lot of effort into creating a positive, respectful culture in the forums which boast over 50,000 members and 80,000 posts. We don't charge a dime for support there, and we don't shamelessly promote Club GreenSock memberships. Again, we trust that if we keep trying to provide value, people will notice and gladly sign up to support the efforts at some point. An unintended benefit of our licensing model has been that it naturally weeds out users who expect everything for free and don't recognize the substantial effort that goes into these projects. We're left with users who tend to be very respectful and trustworthy (exactly who we like to serve). Conclusion GreenSock isn't the typical open source project. Our licensing model reflects that. It offers a blend of sustainability, accessibility, business-friendliness, consistency, and respect that'd be very difficult (or impossible) to accomplish with an MIT-like license. It's not necessarily "better" (open source is fantastic, really) but in our particular case it aligned more closely with the project goals. In fact, many companies have chosen GreenSock because of the license, not in spite of it. They wanted to invest in a platform that had a certain level of commitment behind it that's rare in the open source world. After a decade, the experiment seems to be working and we have our supporters to thank for that. We've been humbled and inspired by Club GreenSock members throughout the years. It's a privilege to create these tools and serve the community. We're grateful for their partnership which makes it all possible.
  3. Before jumping into Club GreenSock for the super-cool bonus plugins, perhaps you're plagued by questions like: Will the bonus plugins work well for my project? How difficult is the API to work with? Will they play nicely with my other tools? Will they work in Edge? Firefox? ... That's why we created special versions of the plugins that can be used on CodePen anytime...for FREE! The video below shows how to get up and running fast. Video Demo with quick-copy URLs See the Pen Try Club GreenSock Bonus Plugins FREE on Codepen by GreenSock (@GreenSock) on CodePen. Template (fork this): See the Pen GreenSock Bonus Starter Template by GreenSock (@GreenSock) on CodePen. Of course we offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee with Club GreenSock anyway, but hopefully this helps give you even more confidence to sign up. CodePen is an online, browser-based editor that makes it easy to write and share front-end code. If you need help using CodePen check out their interactive editor tour.
  4. I need to do a small "news ticker" type animation - it would just consist of text scrolling along a single line. I spent a considerable amont of time looking around for somethig like this, and all of the references I found were either old Flash-based things, or jQuery code that is many years old. Is there a simple way to use Tweenmax to create a horizontal text scroller? Ideally, I'd like it to just use a bunch of <li> elements as sequential text scrolls. TIA!
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