* This blog post is a summary of this video.

Master G SAP 3 Animation: A Visual Guide to Tweens and Timelines

Author: snorklTVTime: 2024-01-28 05:00:01

Table of Contents

Introducing the GreenSock (GSAP) Animation Engine

The GreenSock Animation Platform (GSAP) is a popular JavaScript animation library that provides powerful tools for creating animations on the web. In this blog post, we'll take an introductory look at some of the main features of GSAP version 3.

If you've used any version of GSAP in the past 12 years, you may be familiar with tools like TweenLite, TweenMax, TimelineLite, and TimelineMax. In GSAP 3, these are all consolidated into a single GSAP object that serves as the access point for everything the animation engine can do.

TweenLite, TweenMax, TimelineLite, and TimelineMax in GSAP 3

The GSAP object now replaces the various Tween and Timeline classes from earlier versions. It provides methods like gsap.to(), gsap.from(), and gsap.fromTo() to create tweens (animations), as well as the ability to configure settings, register plugins and effects, and control all GSAP animations globally.

The GSAP Object: Your Access Point to the Animation Engine

As a beginner, we'll focus primarily on using the GSAP object to create animations. The three main methods for that are:

  • gsap.to() - Animates to a set of destination values
  • gsap.from() - Animates from a set of starting values
  • gsap.fromTo() - Animates from a set of starting values to a set of destination values

Understanding Tweens in GSAP

At its simplest, a tween in GSAP is an animation that changes a single property of a single object over time. For example:

gsap.to('.star', {duration: 3, x: 750});

This animates any element with a class of 'star', setting its x-position to 750px over 3 seconds. The x property is GSAP's shorthand for CSS translateX.

Tweens in GSAP have a 'virtual playhead' that can be controlled programmatically - it can be scrubbed back and forth to play the tween forwards, backwards, paused, restarted etc. As this playhead position updates, GSAP applies the animated property changes to the target object(s).

A single tween can animate:

  • Multiple properties of a single target

  • Multiple properties of multiple targets at once

  • Multiple properties of multiple targets with staggered start times

Animating Multiple Properties and Targets with GSAP Tweens

By expanding the properties in the vars object, a single tween can animate things like scale, rotation, colors etc. on the same target:

gsap.to('.star', {duration: 2, scale: 2, rotation: 360, fill: 'red'});

And by keeping the same vars, we can update the selector to animate multiple elements in sync:

gsap.to('.star', {duration: 2, scale: 2, rotation: 360, fill: 'red'});

The power of GSAP tweens comes from being able to animate multiple targets while staggered their animations with properties like 'stagger':

gsap.to('.star', {duration: 2, scale: 2, rotation: 360, fill: 'red', stagger: 1});

This animates all .star elements, starting each one with a 1 second delay between them.

Staggered Animations with GSAP Tweens

As shown above, the 'stagger' property provides an easy way to animate multiple targets with staggered start times. This opens up countless sequencing possibilities.

Some common examples include:

  • Fading in text characters with a delay between each

  • Animating image boxes to slide up from the bottom in sequence

  • Rotating icons onto the screen one after the other

Staggering is extremely useful and creates interesting animation effects with minimal code.

Timelines in GSAP: Containers for Tweens

While tweens power the animations in GSAP, timelines provide the sequencing and controls. A timeline is essentially a container where we can place tweens, other timelines, labels, etc.

By assembling tweens into a timeline, the timeline's playhead controls the updating and triggering of all its child animations. This allows us to:

  • Play(), pause(), restart() all child animations at once

  • Scrub through the timeline

  • Set timeline repeats, yoyos, delays

  • Nest timelines into other timelines

Advanced timeline sequencing is an exceptionally powerful feature we'll cover more soon.

Advanced Timeline Sequencing in GSAP

Overlapping Animations

Unlike traditional frame-based tools, GSAP timelines allow child tweens to overlap and play independently of each other. This allows complex staggered animations.

Inserting Gaps

Gaps can be inserted between child tweens on a timeline using properties like 'delay'. For example, to create a 1 second gap:

const tl = gsap.timeline(); tl.to('.box1', {...}); tl.to('.box2', {delay: 1, ...});

Nesting Timelines

For complex sequences, timelines can be nested. This allows animating timelines starting/stopping inside other timelines for really advanced control.

Conclusion: Start Building GSAP 3 Animations

With the power of GSAP 3's tweens and timelines, complex, smooth animations are within reach for any web project. I hope this introduction gets you excited to start building!

To learn more, check out the GreenSock GSAP 3 documentation, plus useful resources like the GreenSock forums, CodePen demos, and video tutorials out there.


Q: What is the G SAP object?
A: The G SAP object is the main access point for the G SAP animation engine. It allows you to create and control tweens and timelines.

Q: What happened to TweenLite/Max and TimelineLite/Max?
A: In G SAP 3, TweenLite/Max and TimelineLite/Max have been consolidated into the G SAP object.

Q: What is a tween in G SAP?
A: A G SAP tween animates properties of target objects over time. You can animate a single property of one object or multiple properties of multiple objects.

Q: What are staggered animations?
A: Staggered animations offset the start times of animations for multiple target objects.

Q: What is a timeline in G SAP?
A: A G SAP timeline is a container for tweens that controls their sequencing and timing.

Q: How do timelines sequence animations?
A: G SAP timelines allow advanced sequence control like overlapping tweens, gaps between tweens, and nesting timelines.

Q: How do I get started with G SAP 3?
A: Check out the G SAP 3 documentation and tutorials. The G SAP 3 Express course is also a great starting point for beginners.

Q: What can I build with G SAP?
A: You can build all kinds of animations, interactions, games, and more with G SAP. It's a very versatile animation engine.

Q: Does G SAP work with JavaScript frameworks?
A: Yes, G SAP works great with React, Vue, Angular, and more.

Q: Is G SAP free to use?
A: G SAP has both a free open source version and paid Club GreenSock membership with extra tools and support.