The Cycle of Javascript Animations

Javascript Animation (from

1996: Javascript animations are awesome!

2006: Javascript animations are terrible, don’t use them.

2016: Javascript animations are awesome!


When people first started discovering Javascript, it opened up new vistas. It seemed like the perfect way to add some excitement and interaction to plain, static web pages. To an as-yet unadjusted audience, this stuff was gold!


The Javascript Source: a now defunct site packed with code for animated buttons, games, timers, and more.

The Javascript Source: a now defunct site packed with Javascript code for animated buttons, games, timers, and more.


But boy, people adjusted fast.


What had been considered cool and appealing button dynamics quickly became overused glitz. Interactive prompts and forms started to feel campy and unnecessary. People noticed that rather than making their browsing experience more enjoyable, it just made it burdensome.


And so animation and interactivity went (largely) by the wayside.


Modern Javascript, though, is a whole different creature. Even in classic, non-compiled JS, people learned to make use of its prototyping abilities and other features to drive smooth, clean animation. Libraries with clean and usable code started to appear. And finally, the introduction of the HTM5 canvas presented a crowning moment for all web developers with an eye towards visuals. A second new vista had been opened up, and the web would never again be still.


GreenSock, ThreeJS, TweenJS, and the good lord only knows how many other animation libraries now drive an astounding plethora of possibilities in animation.

We don’t just stick a random animation in our pages anymore, now we blend it seamlessly into the background of our sites and into our apps, we smoothly inject it into UI, we even drive web-based games with it. Surely we have reached the pinnacle of web animation.


Hahaha. That was funny, wasn’t it? Web development is never done reinventing itself. Maybe this trend will stick around for a while, or maybe within a few short years we’ll consider it hokey once more, and our children will wonder why we ever used animations like these.

Either way, you can bet things are going to change, whether quickly or slowly, whether subtly or with a bang, and in what direction, it’s difficult to guess, but we’ll see change. It’s perhaps the only reliable factor in the insanely dynamic world of web.


I say let’s just enjoy the ride!

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