Introducing Elastic

Elastic is a new spring animation editor app.

Screenshot of Elastic

Ever since 1.0, libadwaita has had spring animations. These animations aren’t controlled with a duration and an easing function, but instead with physical properties: damping ratio (or optionally damping), mass, stiffness and initial velocity, as well as epsilon. While this allows for a lot of control over the animation, it can be pretty hard to understand if you’re not familiar with physics involved, and to be truly useful it needs an editor.

So, Elastic is that editor. It provides a way to tweak each parameter, explains what they do, allows to preview the animation in various ways, and generates the code to create that animation.

Screenshot of the animation graph in Elastic


This app has a pretty convoluted history.

At one point of time, before 1.0, me and Tobias wanted to rework libadwaita demo and Tobias made new mockups for it. At about the same time, I was experimenting to see how feasible spring animations would be and needed some playground. Since it was understood that this will eventually be in libadwaita, Tobias made this design a part of the new demo:

Spring animation demo mockups

So I implemented it about as closely as I could at the time, but since then a few things happened:

  • We decided that the new demo was too design-focused to work well as, well, a demo (one of the purposes of which is using it as a test case for libadwaita itself). So, instead, we decided to make the new design a separate app called Patterns. That app is stalled for other reasons as it needs features that libadwaita doesn’t provide at the moment. Hopefully, next cycle we should have everything needed to finish it.
  • We decided that the spring animation page was too involved for a demo and was better off separately. So I split that code out and ported it to Vala instead of C.
  • As part of his GSoC project, Manuel Genovés implemented proper spring animations instead of a hacky prototype, and I ported the editor to that.

And then… everyone kinda forgot about it – Patterns was still blocked on other things, Manuel implemented a simpler animation demo for libadwaita and this one was left out.

Fast forward two years, Tobias was reviewing an app in Circle and needed a way to play with spring animations. We realized we never did anything with the editor, so I turned it into a proper app, fixed the remaining bugs and made it generate code instead of just previewing animations. We named it Spring Editor (imaginative, I know) and my impression was that design tools were covered by the new app inclusion process, so I submitted it to incubator.

It turned out more complicated than expected, so I decided to ignore it and try and get it into GNOME Circle instead. So now the Spring Editor name is too generic, so the app got renamed again, this time to Elastic (thanks Christopher Davis for that name) and it’s on Flathub now.

Anyway, the app is finally out, it’s on Flathub, so have fun. :)

Download on Flathub

UPDATE: It’s in Circle now.