RAP now does animations

May 4, 2010 | 2 min Read

Animations are an integral part of most modern UIs, including many “web 2.0”-applications and websites. (Just watch carefully when opening google.com.) They have become so common that we even subconsciously miss them if they aren’t there. The transition between two states of an UI should never be sudden, but gradually (albeit quickly), as we are used from real life. If done right, this increases usability without attracting too much attention or slow down the user. Ideally one isn’t even aware of the effect, it only feels more organic and natural.

Therefore we now integrated the core functionality needed for such animations into RAP. Since the existing client-implementation of RAP was not written with such a feature in mind, it was considerable effort to do this without changing much of the existing code. And for the same reason, there are currently some limitations on what we can do with this feature. However the groundwork is done, and we hope to expand on that in the future.

Just like with gradients and rounded borders before, you can expect the number of supported widgets and effects to grow. You should keep in mind though, that this feature is meant only for subtle animations that seamlessly integrate into the UI. We can and will not turn RAP into some kind of multimedia powerhouse where everything is moving all the time.

For now, “Button”, “Menu”, “ToolTip” and “Shell-DisplayOverlay” each have one effect that can be enabled. This is done using RAPs CSS-theming, not Java, as this kind of animations are mainly eye-candy and don’t add any functionality. The syntax for this is based on a small and easy-to-use subset of the CSS3 working draft for animations. For example:

Button[PUSH] {
  animation: hoverIn 350ms ease, hoverOut 600ms ease-in;

This generates a faded hover-effect for buttons.

Animations work on all browser supported by RAP, but might not run smoothly on very old machines. They will be part of the upcoming 1.3M7 build. To see what we can do for now, check out the new “Theming”-Page in our examples-demo.