3 posts on CSS Transitions

Animatable: A CSS transitions gallery

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What kind of transitions can you create with only one property? This is what my new experiment, animatable aims to explore.

It’s essentially a gallery of basic transitions. It aims to show how different animatable properties look when they transition and to broaden our horizons about which properties can be animated. Hover over the demos to see the animation in action, or click “Animate All” to see all of them (warning: might induce nausea, headache and seizures :P ). You can also click on it to see more details and get a permalink. Instead of clicking, you can also navigate with the arrow keys and press Esc to return to the main listing.

Fork it on Github and add your own ideas. Be sure to add your twitter username to them as a data-author attribute!

I’ve only tested in Firefox and Chrome for OSX so far. Not sure which other browsers are supported. However, since it uses CSS animations, we know for sure that it won’t work in browsers that don’t support CSS animations.

Hope you enjoy it :)

A better tool for cubic-bezier() easing

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A few days ago, I had a talk at a conference in Zurich (I’m going to write more about it in another post). The talk was about “10 things you might not know about CSS3”. The first of those things was how you can do bouncing transitions with cubic-bezier() instead of an easing keyword. As usual, my slides included a few live demos of the functionality, in which I edited the cubic-bezier() parameters and the audience could see the transition produced.

However, in the case of cubic-bezier() that’s not enough. No matter how much you see someone changing the parameters, if you don’t picture it in a 2D plane, it’s very hard to understand how it works. So, the night before, I searched for a tool I could use to show them how bezier curves are formed. I found plenty, but all of them restricted the the coordinates to the 0-1 range. I’m not sure if the cause is ignorance about the spec changes or that Webkit hasn’t caught up with those changes yet (but it will, soon). The only one that supported values out of range was this one from the Opera Dragonfly developers, but I found it kinda impossible to adapt.

For my talk, I tried to adapt one of them but it was late so I gave up after a while and ended up just showing them a screenshot. And the day after the talk, I started adapting this to my needs (ever tried coding at a conference? It’s awesome, you get to ask questions from very knowledgeable people and ger replies straight away). And then I started cleaning up the code, changing how it worked, adding features. At this point, I think the only thing that’s left from that tool is …the HTML5 doctype. After 3-4 days, I finished it, and got it its own domain, cubic-bezier.com (I was surprised it was still free).

So, in a nutshell, what makes this better?

Lots of things:

  • It supports y values out of range, as per the latest version of the spec (and shows a warning for Webkit)
  • It’s fully accessible from the keyboard
  • You can move the handles not only by dragging but also by clicking on the plane or using the keyboard arrow keys
  • You can mouse over the plane and see the progression and time percentages that correspond to every point
  • You can save curves you like in your “Library” (uses localStorage to persist them)
  • You can import and export curves to/from your library to share them with others
  • You can share a permalink to every curve. For example, here’s a bouncing transition (FF & Opera only)
  • You can compare the current curve with any in your library, setting the duration yourself
  • Custom favicon that reflects the current curve

Cool stuff used

Given that this tool is not only for developers, but for badass developers that care about stuff like cubic-bezier(), I think I can safely assume they’re using a top notch browser. So, I went crazy with using cool modern stuff:

  • HTML5: Canvas, localStorage, History API, range inputs, oninput event, output, classList, data- attributes
  • ES5: Accessors, Array#map, Array#forEach
  • Selectors API
  • JSON
  • CSS3: Transitions, gradients, media queries, border-radius, shadows, :in-range pseudoclass, box-sizing, transforms, text-overflow

I also used my tiny chaining framework, Chainvas throughout this project.

Browser support

So far, I’ve tested it in modern versions of Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari and it seems to work. I haven’t tested it in IE10 (too lazy to open vm), although I want it to work there too, so if it doesn’t let me know. :)

Enjoy! cubic-bezier.com

Better usability in 5 minutes

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In this post I’m going to share some tips to increase a site’s usability that are very quick to implement. Not all of them are cross-browser, but they are the icing on the cake anyway, nobody would mind without them.

This is a personal favorite. When you use CSS to style a button, or when you use an image (either as a background image or in the tag) to depict a fancy button, it will remain the same when being pressed in some or all browsers (depending on the case). You can use this easy trick to let the user know that he actually clicked something that is, indeed, clickable:

.mybutton:active { position:relative; top: 1px; left: 1px; }

which actually moves the button 1 pixel to the right and 1 pixel to the bottom when it’s being clicked. Try it, it’s actually quite convincing.

Other, equally quick options are: making the border inset, giving to the text a text-indent of 1px, reversing a gradient background (if you already use the reversed version somewhere else in the site, it is quick since you don’t have to use an image editor just for that), or a combination of them.

2. Smooth transitions

This is a webkit-only tip, but as I said, it’s just the icing on the cake, so who cares? If a smooth transition is crucial to your design, by all means, write a script for that or use a library. If you were planning to go the CSS-only way anyway, this will significantly increase the user experience for webkit users.

Let’s suppose that the links in your page are normally blue, and red on hover. To make the transition from blue to red smooth for webkit users, only 2 lines are needed in the CSS:

a { color:blue; transition-property: color; transition-duration: 1s; }

a:hover { color:red; }

The first one (transition-property) tells the browser which CSS property to smoothly transition and the second one (transition-duration) how long you want the whole effect to last. It’s important to place those in the normal CSS rule and not the one with the :hover pseudoclass, because otherwise there will be no transition when the user mouses out of the element. Please note that you currently need to also include browser prefixes for these properties or just use -prefix-free.

3. Add dingbats to buttons that depict their functionality

We all know that most browsers don’t like dingbat-only fonts. However, there are some dingbats that are available in most web-safe unicode fonts. For instance, review the following examples:

Without dingbats:

Next Previous Done Favorite

With dingbats:

Next → ← Previous ✔ Done ♥ Favorite

There are named html entities for some of them, others have to be used by their hex unicode index like ꯍ  (you have to test the last ones a lot, since not all are web-safe enough).

You can find many such dingbats with their unicode hex codes in http://www.copypastecharacter.com/ and http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/dingbats.html.

Of course, if you have the time, by all means, use normal icons. If you don’t however, I find symbols to be a handy alternative. Sometimes I also use them as icon placeholders in work in progress until I find the time to design real icons.

4. Zebra rows

This won’t work on IE and Firefox 3. You can increase readability of tables and some types of lists by slightly alternating the background color of the rows. You’ve probably seen this effect numerous times and it’s usually done via JavaScript or the server side code that generates the table. You can quickly do it with plain CSS3 however, if you don’t mind it not working in IE and older browser versions or don’t have the time for a complete cross-browser solution:

table.stats tr { background:white; }

table.stats tr:nth-child(odd) { background:#f4f4f4; }

5. Highlight the current target

This won’t work in IE and older browser versions. If a particular page has lots of content, navigable by anchors (for example a FAQ page), you can use the CSS3 :target pseudo-class to let the user know where they landed:

h3:target { background:#FFFBCC; }

The h3 will only get a #FFFBCC background when it’s actually the landing point for the user. For example, if it has the id “foo”, it will get an #FFFBCC background when the user navigates to #foo.

That’s all folks

Did it actually take more than 5 minutes? ;)

Articles, Original, CSS, Selectors, CSS Transitions, Usability, WebKit, UX
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