Updated: List of Best Animation Packages for AS3

AS3 community and code has been moving very quickly since the beginning of the year. Animation kits are no different. So we are revising our list of best animation kits for AS3 due to the recent changes and the kits that have heavy usage in AS3 as compared to AS2.

Best Flash AS3 Animation Kits:

  1. Tweener
    • Author: Zeh Fernando, Nate Chatellier
    • URL: http://code.google.com/p/tweener/
    • Download: [source]
    • Pros:
      • Small and quick, compact library
      • Functional syntax (functional coders will like this as well as OO due to its simplicity)
      • Very agile for things like bezier tweening and papervision3d early on.
      • Based on MCTween and Tweener As2
      • Takes only about 10kb of your swf compiled
      • Quick learning curve for levels of all scripting
      • Open Source, MIT License
      • Forgets about MovieClips and TextFields and simply allow any instance of any class to be tweened seamlessly
      • Much more extensible when it comes to using custom transitions
      • Much more extensible when it comes to using custom special properties, allowing ‘extensions’ to be built and added to Tweener when needed
      • Much easier to create complex tweenings due to additional, more powerful events
      • Much easier to “wrap around” methods and functions which Tweener doesn’t natively support
      • New features like setTimeScale(), .skipUpdates, and addCaller(), which are very specific to certain situations but can help wonders
      • Promotes reusing and standardization by allowing tweening ‘templates’ to be built and reused
      • Uses the same syntax between the AS2 and AS3 versions, but maintaining the standards of each version for values or property names
      • Produces code that’s much easier to read and understand
    • Cons:
      • Some special properties not yet implemented (brightness, hue etc – however easily added and extended)
      • Only EnterFrame based (although this is the best method)
      • Doesn’t feature native filter tweening for all filters yet
      • Has no Flash IDE code completion or code hinting available
      • The developer must remember the name of the tweening properties available, or have them at hand
      • Tweener hasn’t gone through many speed optimizations yet; while impossible to notice on most real-world scenarios (for example, when using less than half a thousand tweenings at the same time on AS2), MC Tween has better performance than Tweener
  2. TweenLite, TweenFilterLite
  3. Animation Package
    • Author: Alex Uhlmann (works for Adobe now)
    • URL: http://www.alex-uhlmann.de/flash/animationpackage/
    • Download: [source]
    • Pros:
      • Open Source, MPL License
      • Mature, been around since AS1 and quick to update to AS3
      • Lots of extras like shape, color, filter, effects tools
      • Things like Drawer and Animation with paths to arrays provide ‘drawing’ and playback capabilities or SVG playback
    • Cons:
      • Stuck in AS3 alpha, maybe Alex is busy at Adobe?
      • Rather large due to the extras
      • Takes around 40kb of your swf (worth it if using extra features)
  4. Animation System v2.0
    • Author: Ryan Taylor
    • URL: http://www.boostworthy.com/blog/?p=170
    • Download: [source]
    • Pros:
      • Open Source, MIT License
      • Specify the use of ‘enter frame’ or ‘timer’ as your render method on a per-animation basis.
      • Easily complete many common animations using the animation manager with one line of code.
      • Create complex sequences of tweens and actions using the virtual timeline.
      • Easily animate any property of any filter.
      • Advanced color support that includes brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation.
      • Common interface used for garbage collecting throughout the entire package.
      • Create motion paths for display objects with the option to auto-orient to path.
      • Advanced animation support using paths as value maps.
      • Extremely extensible architecture.
      • Clearly defined API.
      • Full-blown documentation using ASDoc (same as Adobe livedocs).
      • Eleven example files ranging from basic to advanced usage and theory.
    • Cons:
      • New, AS3 only version
      • Rather large due to the extras
      • Takes around 20-30kb? of your swf (need to test this)

FuseKit is missing a huge opportunity by not updating to AS3 yet, it might be too late as some of these kits above are simply too good for the situations you may come across where you want to standardize on an animation kit.

Right now for most projects I am using Tweener for AS3, with a few projects using Animation Package. I still use FuseKit or Tweener AS2 when doing AS2 but this is only maintenance, new projects are all AS3 simply due to the speed of the new VM and to make code more valuable as it has a longer life.

But as time goes on things may change, usually the simplest and most agile systems keep up which this usually means the open source ones and the ones with simple syntax. Right now that one is Tweener. Tweener has been especially quick and easy for Papervision3d projects.

I have also tried and sampled Animation System 2.0 of which I have heard good things and used Animation Package quite a bit more in effects than Tweener. It depends on the job and what is required in the project for th ebest animation package decision, or make your own.

Am I missing any other good ones?

  • http://wddg.com mario gonzalez

    I’m a HUGE fan of tweener. I actually stumbled upon it via this blog about a month ago.

    I want to check out animation system 2.0, but to be honest someone would need to sit there with me and give me examples saying… tweener can’t do this, but ani-sys 2.0 does this.

    I don’t want to have bias towards a package, since that would be silly, but I also don’t want to jump around and use one here, and another one here.

  • http://labs.zeh.com.br/blog/?p=104 Zeh

    Thanks, Ryan, you’re too kind. Also thanks for the post as a whole, we needed some ‘third party’ to do so.

  • http://www.uza.lt Paulius Uza

    I think you missed one – http://www.uza.lt/codex/as3-easing/

    Oh, and when compiled it adds 2 Kb to the swf :)

  • http://www.wabysabi.com Daniel Wabyick

    I can also vouch for the Zeh’s Tweener engine. I haven’t pushed it to the limit, but I really like its easy “scalable” syntax and ability to tween custom properties. Great work Zeh.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    I plan to do some series on each kit this year. So it gets more into the capabilities with visuals. But what I have learned is that AS3 is a difficult jump for some and that the Tweener like syntax (one liners essentially, functional style) has been good for getting coders of all levels up to speed on it. Good kits have a low entry point. Animation Package is a little too high and TweenerLite and Animation System follow in Tweener’s style.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Hey Paul, I will look into AS3 easing. I have ended up at your blog a few times in the recent months and will check it out. Hopefully all this differentation gives us a really nice set of animation kits and simple and most of all commonality in as3 code. Its nice to open up someone’s actionscript and see a familiar animation kit.

  • http://www.uza.lt Paulius Uza

    Thanks, looking forward to it.

  • http://robertpenner.com Robert Penner

    Why is the BSD license a “Con”?

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  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Mario,

    That site is excellent the creative noastalgic propaganda film approach is hilarious.

    http://wddg.com/

  • http://mike.teczno.com Michal Migurski

    Can you explain why BSD license is a con?

  • http://stamen.com Tom Carden

    Great overview, thanks for putting it together. I’m a bit confused as to why “BSD license” would be listed as a con though – can you explain why it’s a bad thing? We use it for some of our open source work and don’t want to put people off.

  • http://stamen.com Tom Carden

    (What Mike said!)

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Oops corrected. My bad BSD is fine, I prefer MIT as it is more explicit on the commercial use but it was an error on my part.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Also updated Animation Package so it shows the MPL license. All these packages are safe for commercial work and repackaging although it is encouraged you contribute where you can, it will make you famous :)

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  • http://stamen.com Tom Carden

    Thanks for clarifying!

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Hey Robert,

    Sry you were marked as spam by askimet. Yeh I corrected the error I hadn’t posted my latest and that animation kit had incorrect pros and cons.

  • http://blog.natejc.com Nate Chatellier

    Great comparison Ryan, thanks!

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Nate,

    Thanks for your work on Tweener to AS3. Many lost souls looking for a FuseKit replacement.

  • graphex

    I was really worried when laco handed over his development to the mosessupposes guy and he went on with FuseKit. Should have stuck with Zeh the whole time!

    Thanks for this review. I can’t believe that CS3 didn’t make this completely obsolete!

  • http://detrus.nivr.net Detrus

    Hard to find good extensions for Tweener for hue/saturation, the color matrix matrix stuff. Found some color transform extensions here http://www.osflash.org/pipermail/papervision3d_osflash.org/2007-June/006991.html

    and color matrix here doesn’t tween well http://lists.caurinauebi.com/pipermail/tweener-caurinauebi.com/2007-July/000127.html

    With Animation System 2.1 to tween colors you have to use his EnhancedSprite() class, it won’t just tween a regular sprite or object. Screwed me over because there are strange errorless problems if you addChild sprites to another 3rd party class, in particular dynamic registration’s DynamicMovie() class.

    Tweener doesn’t need special sprite classes, and seems to run faster than animation system 2.1 for now. I wish they’d hurry up with those special properties.

    Maybe you could post some extensions for hue/saturation if they’re so easy to implement? :P

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Hey Detrus,

    Yes I have added these to a version of Tweener that we use I should post them and or contribute them back into the Tweener project. I probably will once I am completed with a project that is due Aug 1. In the meantime the TweenFilterLite might help you on the color/hue etc for now as it is very similar to Tweener.

  • http://blog.greensock.com Jack

    Thanks for putting this together! I just thought I’d mention that after a few recent optimizations, TweenLite is actually down to about 2k (previously 3k). Almost all of the positives mentioned about Tweener also apply to TweenLite, but I can see why you don’t list them out there again (probably just trying to highlight the distinctions). Oh, and about the “Advanced stuff like bezier tweens not so clear”, I haven’t personally tried that, but just like Tweener, TweenLite will tween any property of any object so it should be able to handle it just fine unless I’m missing something. Hey, thanks again for the valuable article. I think there are a lot of folks out there looking for this sort of thing.

    Oh, and to make finding TweenLite & TweenFilterLite a bit easier, folks can now go to http://www.TweenLite.com or http://www.TweenFilterLite.com.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Hey Jack,

    Thanks for the update. Yeh for the bezier or other items making them with TweenerLite is possible what I meant by that is that Tweener has bezier syntax that handles the array of points as a special property and this is something you would have to add when using TweenerLite.

    http://labs.zeh.com.br/blog/?p=104

    You could easily pass in arrays of points, or just attach the points at the same time you tween but it is just something people would have to think about and implement. Maybe releasing a TweenerUtilLite or something like that with shortcuts for bezier, effects etc in it. But TweenerLite and TweenerFilterLite are great and nice and small and simple to use. I hope all animation kits are made with this syntax from javascript to silverlight.

  • http://blog.andrewpaulsimmons.com Andrew Paul Simmons

    Thanks again for the useful info. I was trying to do research on this. You saved me a lot of time.
    _Andrew Paul

  • http://trsp.net steph thirion

    thanks for the great info, you’re making the transition to AS3 a bit easier.. :)

    question: is it clearly an advantage that an API has been around before AS3, if we think of performance?
    There’s been so many changes with AS3 that it probably makes sense to rewrite from scratch. Porting code from AS2 can be an attempt to adapt a code that was built around a different architecture, it might be less efficient than a new code built with an “AS3 mindset” from the start. I guess the real question is, did they do a good job in rethinking the old APIs for AS3?

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    Hey steph,

    Yeh I see your point but I was stating that more of a community and support pro as well. If a toolkit has made it through many versions it tends to have a following and thus lots of examples or testing has gone into it.

    I think that it is good if you know AS2 and AS3 completely so a port would only help you understand the power of AS3 even better so it could help. I think it is great that toolkits like Tweener have the same syntax in AS2 or AS3 which makes it very nice and simple. Some AS2 maintenance still has to go on probably for another year or so and having a kit that is available there as well is good right now.

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  • http://www.plinkmedia.com snowboardfoo

    Hey, I’m coming from AS2 recently and it is definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I am catching on, luckily I do have some old experience in Java.. :)

    Anyway, for any n00bs like me, I played with a bunch of these and if you’re just getting into the animation libraries, I think Tweener is the easiest to jump into.

    Great resource, thanks.

  • http://drawk.wordpress.com/ drawk

    I agree snowboardfoo. The Tweener syntax is the easiest to get up to speed on and it has a very low learning curve. It is also great that it is for AS2 and AS3 which allows as2 peeps (some are very frightened of AS3 consider yourself ahead by moving to it) to not fear animation and motion skills going away. The link above has additions for saturation and brightness tweening so the package is complete and really is becoming quite standard in many projects that we work on.

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  • http://43kg.com Horrow

    Thanks again for the useful info. I was trying to do research on this. You saved me a lot of time.

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    thanks…

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  • http://www.mentordigital.co.uk Bristol Web Design

    Another good AS3 animation class library is – TweenMan based on TweenLite

    http://tweenman.com/

    You can tween glows, dropshadows, brightness etc. and the package compiles really small in SWFs, I think around 10k

    Holland Risley
    Mentor Digital – Web design