Published on July 24, 2019
Framer-motion is a library that powers animations in Framer, and it’s now available as an independent package that we can use in React applications. It has a very simple declarative API that makes it easy to create and orchestrate complex animations with the minimal amount of code. In this article, we’ll start with very basic animations and gradually move to the more advanced ones.
Note: animation examples in the article may not look smooth because of a low frame rate of GIF images. Rest assured, real animation are butter-smooth. You can play with them in the sandbox here.
We can start with framer-motion by simply installing it with
yarn add framer-motion command.
To animate elements, we’ll need to ditch primitive HTML elements (
path, etc.) in favor of their “motion-infused” counterparts -
motion.path, etc. These elements expose the properties that we’ll need to add our animations.
To create the simplest animation, we can specify
animate property that accepts an object with CSS properties that we want to animate. This is how we can animate opacity and background color of the
The properties that we pass to
animate represent the final state of the animation. Framer-motion will infer the initial state based on the specified CSS properties, or their defaults. For example, default opacity for CSS elements is
1 (even if we don’t set it explicitly), so framer-motion knows how to animate it down to
We can also set the initial values of animatable CSS properties using
initial prop. It also accepts an object with CSS properties that will tell framer-motion what initial values should be like. In the example below, we fade in the rectangle by animating
It’s worth mentioning that property
y is special - it’s not a real CSS property, but framer-motion understands it. There are a bunch of CSS
transform-related properties that have shortcuts in framer-motion, so when we change
y property, we actually apply animation to
transform: translateY() property. Similarly, there are
scaleY and some other properties, you can find the complete list here.
The animations that we’ve done so far only run when components mount. Now let’s see how we can animate elements when some internal state changes.
We can set
animation property to different values based on the internal state, and framer-motion will animate between those values when the state changes:
Note that the component re-renders only when state changes, and not on every animation frame, which makes animations very efficient.
The real power of framer-motion comes from using variants. Let’s start by exploring how we can rewrite the previous example to use variants.
We’ll begin by extracting inline definition of animatable properties from
animate prop into a separate object. This object will contain key-value pairs, where keys are some meaningful names that we give to our animatable properties, and values are the properties themselves. Then we can pass this variants object to
variants prop, and inside
animation we can toggle animations based on the string names we gave to them:
This example works, but it’s not very useful. The power of variants is in orchestrating complex animations throughout a component tree, and to see that, we’ll need a slightly bigger example.
In the example below, we have a container
div that has three child
divs inside of it. Container
div uses the same
onClick animation that we’ve seen before:
Now we can animate children elements simultaneously with the parent by setting their own variants object. If the descriptive names of child animations match those of the parent, child animations will be triggered when parent animation is triggered.
Notice how both
box variants have the same keys
Variants also allow us to orchestrate the child animations. We can do that by providing
transition property inside the animation object.
For example, we can set
staggerChildren children property, which specifies the delay in seconds between child animations:
Note how transition is applied only when we transition into a given variant. Since we defined
transition property inside
active variant, the stagger animation is only applied when we transition from
active, but not when we transition from
By default, variants start animating parent element and its children at the same time. We can control that behavior using
when property. We can set it to
beforeChildren to make parent element animate first, or to
afterChildren, to make parent element animate after its children:
With this configuration, the parent
div changes background color first, and then child elements rotate with a staggered delay.
There are a lot more properties of variants that we can control - animation delays, stagger direction, etc. You can find more information on them in framer-motion documentation.
In this article, we’ve seen how easy it is to animate React components using declarative API that framer-motion provides. However, we just scratched the surface, since there’s a lot more that framer-motion is capable of - gestures, dragging, working with SVG paths and much more. If you’re interested in learning more - subscribe for my upcoming course that will cover all the cool things that framer-motion has to offer.