Firefox 4 is going four dimensional! Time dimensional! (Ok, for those who know physics, just pretend :)
There’s CSS transitions for all sorts of animated eye-candy, major JS speed-ups to give scripted animations a boost and
mozRequestAnimationFrame to get keep them smooth and in sync, and a whole host of other graphics and video improvements. Oh, and SMIL in SVG!
Speaking of which, I thought I’d bring you up to speed on some of the recent progress on the SMIL front.
One of the more recent additions to our implementation is the ability to key animations off DOM events such as mouse clicks and key presses.
This paves the way to creating widgets of questionable aesthetic value:
However, SMIL animations need not only be keyed off SVG events but any event in the current document is fair game. So, for example, suppose we want to add a tape animation that runs whenever a certain video is in play, we can do it with this piece of SMIL:
<animate attributeName="stroke-dashoffset" from="0" to="90"
dur="1s" repeatCount="indefinite" fill="freeze"
begin="video.playing" end="video.pause; video.ended"/>
In addition to events, you can also key animations off:
- key presses:
- other animations:
<animate begin="otherAnimation.begin-2.5s"…(and this is generally a much better choice than event timing when you want to keep animations in sync. Although you can write
begin="otherAnimation.beginEvent"you may get surprising results when a seek is performed. Use
- repeat iterations:
- plain old time offsets:
- all of the above!
<animate begin="rect.click; accessKey(a)+1s; otherAnimation.begin-2.5s; otherAnimation.repeat(2)+25ms; 12.3s"…
SMIL and script are friends
There are a lot of advantages to using SMIL over script (it’s generally easier for a start!) but sometimes it can’t do everything you need. In those cases you can use both together!
SMIL → Script: To synchronise script with SMIL, just listen for the relevant time events generated when animations start (
beginEvent), repeat (
repeatEvent), and stop (
endEvent). If you need a bit more context you can always query the animation’s start time and current time too.
Script → SMIL: To go the other direction, that is, to kick-start SMIL from script, just use the appropriate time control interfaces
endElement on the target animation, or seek and pause all animations in the
<svg> block as a whole with
pauseAnimations and friends.
SMIL outside the box
While we’re only supporting SMIL for SVG content that doesn’t mean it’s entirely off limits to your HTML content. Not only can we tie SMIL to HTML events as above but we can also apply various SVG features to HTML, and these places can play host to a bit of declarative animation too.
Still, there are a few features missing in our SMIL implementation that are yet to come. I’m maintaining a somewhat detailed summary, but in short we’re missing:
- Mexican waves — There are still a few SVG data types that can’t be animated yet. Paths are very much on the way, but lists of points are yet to come. That means all your squiggling, warping, barrelling, twisting, waving lines and stars will have to wait a little longer to mesmerise the world. Hopefully most of this will be done in time for Firefox 4.
- Hyperlinking — The ability to trigger animations from a hyperlink is also yet to come but will probably not make it’s debut until after Firefox 4.0.
What’s not on the radar?
There are also a couple of features that are neither done, nor likely to get done in the foreseeable future. These are:
<animateColor>— So long as
<animateColor>isn’t necessary and only complicates the Web. See bug 436296. We recommend using
<animate>instead. (This issue was recently discussed on www-svg.)
- Wallclock timing — That is, the ability to set up an animation to begin at
2011-01-01T00:00:00+09:00. Real uses cases for wallclock timing were discussed on www-smil earlier in the year but it seems the syntax provided by SMIL, at least as far as it is used in SVG, is insufficient for these use cases. For the time being, we’d rather not clutter the Web platform by implementing something half-baked. For most use cases, it should be possible to provide this sort of functionality by adding a sprinkling of script to your SMIL.
UPDATE: I just noticed Robert Longson (who’s played a big part in us getting to this point) beat me to reporting much of this news, so for more details on where we’re up to see his post too.