Category Archives: CSS

CSS Animations Sprite Sheet

I’ve recently been investigating the prospect of creating a web-site, where an animation (admittedly a cheesy one) is played out when you load the page. My idea was that two sprites would walk to the centre of the screen. I was actually thinking to mimic something like Manic Miner. Initially, I thought I’d probably need to do some messing around with image manipulation in Javascript, but this gave me the idea that I might be able to run the entire thing through CSS.

Sprite Sheet

The first thing that you need to get is something to animate. The principle of a sprite sheet is that you have many images in a single image file. This is simply a speed trick – it’s faster to pull down a single image, and cache it, than to constantly load separate images for each part of the animation.

If you have separate images, then for this post to work for you, you’ll need to combine them into a single sprite sheet. The tool suggested in the video above is Sprite Sheet Packer. I’ve used this before, and it does the job – you can also do this manually (although you would have to be careful about the spacing).

Now that we have a sprite sheet, we can add it to our project; in my case, I’ve put it in wwwroot\assets.

Let’s talk about how we can layout our page, and animate it; we’ll start with the HTML.

HTML

The HTML here is the simplest part: we just want two divs:

<div id="testdiv"></div>
<div id="testdiv2"></div>

That’s all the HTML; everything else is CSS; let’s start with the animation.

CSS

Onto the CSS, which is the crux of the whole thing. Let’s start with the @keyframes. This is the part where you can actually define an animation. In our case, we’ll need three of them: one to move the sprite left, one to move it right, and one to animate it.

Move Left & Right

The animation to move an element on the screen is pretty straightforward, you just tell it where to start, and where to stop:

@keyframes moverightanimation {
    from { 
        left: 10%; 
    }
    to {
        left: calc(50% - 25px);
    }
}

@keyframes moveleftanimation {
    from {
        left: 90%;
    }
    to {
        left: calc(50% + 25px);
    }
}

As you can see, you can start (or stop) at an absolute position (10px for example), or a percentage, or a calculated value.

Animate

The animation is a bit strange; here’s the code:

@keyframes move {
    100% {
        background-position: -72px, 0px;
    }
}

What this is doing is setting the final position to be negative the width of the full sprite sheet (this will only work for horizontal sheets). We’ll then tell it to step through the images in the element itself. Here’s the CSS for one of the divs:

#testdiv {
    position: absolute;
    left: 20%;
    top: 300px;
    width: 24px;
    height: 30px;    
    animation: moverightanimation 4s forwards, move 1s steps(3) infinite;
    background: transparent url('../assets/spritesheet.png') 0 0 no-repeat;    
}

Here, we’re calling multiple animations (moverightanimation and move); for the move, we’re specifying a step – that is, we’re telling it that it needs to get from where it currently is, to 100% over 3 steps, and there are 3 sprites in my sprite sheet, so it will helpfully divide one by the other and come up with a value to increase by each time.

The opposite call does almost the same:

#testdiv2 {
    position: absolute;
    left: 80%;
    top: 300px;
    width: 24px;
    height: 30px;    
    animation: moveleftanimation 4s forwards, move 1s steps(3) infinite;
    background: transparent url('../assets/spritesheet2') 0 0 no-repeat;
}

Summary

As someone who spends as little time as they can messing with UI and CSS, I thought this was a fun little exercise.

Force React Components to sit Side-by-Side

For anyone that knows me, they’ll know that UI and UX is not exactly my strong suit. If I had my way, we’d all just use console applications like this:

>placeorder /productcode coffee /quantity 1

Unfortunately, the trend seems to have gone a different way, and now we have CSS. CSS is a brilliant idea; however, you need to be able to visualise what you want your stuff to look like first.

Anyway, onto this post. If you know anything about CSS or Bootstrap, then you’ve probably already read everything that could interest you about this post!

In my latest project, I have a search box, and I wanted to line up the controls on the screen like this:

Search         [Search Text]        [Search Button]

I’m using React, so the original code looked like this (more or less):

<label>Search</label>
<input type='text'/>
<SimpleButton buttonAction={props.searchAction} buttonLabel="Search" />            

And it rendered like this:

Search         [Search Text]        
[Search Button]

My first gambit was to define a CSS style (so I can now put “Front End Developer” on my CV):

.rowLine {
    display:flex; 
    flex-direction:row;
}

And I changed the HTML to look like this:

<div className='rowLine'>
    <label>Search</label>
    <input type='text'/>
    <SimpleButton buttonAction={props.searchAction} buttonLabel="Search" />            
</div>

That worked, and I copied most of it from here. So now I’ve updated my CV to “Senior Front End Developer”.

It then occurred to me that, as good as this looks, there’s probably something in Bootstrap, and if there is, then my web page can look like the rest of the internet. It turns out I was right:

<div className="form-group row">
    <label htmlFor="searchText" className="col-sm-2 col-form-label">Search</label>
    <div className="col-sm-8">
        <input id="searchText" className="form-control" type='text'
                    placeholder="e.g. Goats" />
    </div>
    <div className="col-sm-2">
        <SimpleButton buttonAction={props.searchAction} buttonLabel="Search" />            
    </div>
</div>        

You may notice that React has its own “for” property, called “htmlFor”.

Disclaimer / Apology

As usual, please take everything you read in my blog with a healthy dose of salt. If you are a front end developer then please take solace in the fact that, despite me being facetious, I really need frameworks like Bootstrap, because I would never think to change the colour of a button, or to align the sizes.

This was all so much simpler in the days of Turbo Pascal / Turbo C, where you would draw your buttons using the ANSI character set!

References

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/39702130/line-two-divs-side-by-side-with-css-and-react

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/39187722/error-ts2339-property-for-does-not-exist-on-type-htmlpropshtmllabelelement

https://www.tutorialrepublic.com/twitter-bootstrap-tutorial/bootstrap-forms.php

Playing multiple videos simultaneously using HTML5

I was interested to see how playing multiple videos simultaneously affected the performance of a web page. This probably seems a little like a time machine back to 1995 – I’ll soon be posting about flashing red text and Dreamweaver!

However, playing short videos with only a few frames can be a way to draw attention to a particular part of the page; for example, if you’re browsing a clothing catalogue and one of the models moves when you hover over.

It’s worth pointing out that the entire page will be local, and so I have no network considerations whatsoever. This isn’t, however, about having three Netflix streams running at the same time – it’s short, and small videos.

The video that I’m using came from here. I’m creating an effect whereby you hover over an image of a space ship and it explodes.

MP4

It’s worth bearing in mind that most video formats are not supported by most browsers. MP4 is the exception, so it looks like this is the way to go for video encoding. I used this tool to convert the file.

HTML

Here’s the HTML for a single icon:

<head>
  <script src="HoverAnimate.js"></script>
</head>
<body onload="loaded()">
  <div id="ship1" style="background-image: url('assets/titan.png'); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-size: 50px 50px; width: 50px; height: 50px">
    <video  width="50" height="50" id="ship1-video" 
            style="visibility: hidden">
      <source src="assets/explosion.mp4" type="video/mp4" />
    </video>
  </div>
</body>

Clearly this could be neater if the CSS was separated, but essentially what we have is a div element with a scaled background image, which contains a video (currently hidden). The next thing is the Javascript that plays the video:

function loaded() {
    var imgs = document.getElementsByTagName("div");
    [].forEach.call(imgs, function (item) {
        if (item.style.backgroundImage !== "") {
            item.addEventListener('mouseover', hoverImg, false);
        }
    });
   
}

function hoverImg(e) {      
    var vid = document.getElementById(this.id + "-video");
    vid.onended = function() {        
        vid.style.visibility = 'hidden';
    }
        
    vid.style.visibility = 'visible';
    vid.play();
}

This iterates through all the div elements and, for those that has a background image, hooks up a hover event. I’ve also assumed that the div element will be named using the format “{imagename}-video”.

Conclusion

I tried this with seven videos simultaneously, and didn’t see any jerking of the animations. Whether this would stand up under networked conditions, it’s hard to say, but with the video locally available, performance is fine.

References

https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_media.asp

http://www.online-convert.com/

https://www.w3schools.com/html/html5_video.asp

http://www.dreamincode.net/forums/topic/281583-video-plays-on-mouse-over-but-not-with-multiple-videos/

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/10881678/html-play-a-video-inside-an-image

Create CSS effect to “Shine” a button border

Imagine that you have an HTML button or element on a page and you would like an effect where the border shines all around the perimeter. this provides an excellent example of an effect of the entire element shining, and this post will largely be based on that code.

Animations

CSS has the concept of an animation, to define it, use the following syntax:

.growOnHover:hover:after {
    animation: growAnimation 1s;
}

Here is the HTML referencing this:

<a href="#" class="growOnHover">Grow</a>

Tge “growAnimation” refers to a KeyFrame:

@keyframes growAnimation {
    from {width: 100px; height: 100px;}
    to {width: 110px; height: 110px;}
}

The effect

The effect that I want is for a light to run around the circumference of the button when it’s hovered over. In this case, instead of animating from .. to, we can specify at which stage a particular section of the animation kicks in.

.borderShine:after {
  content: "";
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  left: 0;
  width: 5;
  height: 5;
  opacity: 0;  

  border-radius: 1;

  background: rgba(255, 255, 255, 10);
}

.borderShine:hover:after {
  animation: shineAnimation 2s 1;  
}

@keyframes shineAnimation {
  0%   {left: 0; top: 0; width: 2; height: 2; opacity: 0}
  10%  {width: 100; height: 2}  
  20%  {left: 98; top: 0; width: 2; height: 2}
  25%  {opacity: 1;}
  30%  {height: 100}
  40%  {left: 98; top: 98; height: 2}
  50%  {left: 0; top: 98; width: 100}
  55%  {opacity: 1;}
  60%  {left: 0; top: 98; width: 2; height: 2}
  70%  {left: 0; top: 0; width: 2; height: 100}
  80%  {left: 0; top: 0; width: 2; height: 2}
  100% {opacity: 0;}
}

There are a few useful things to remember here:

  • The animation is a transition between the state that the screen is currently in, and the state that you want it to be in; so, for example, the opacity set to 1 at 25% will cause the white bar to gradually appear over the steps between the two. The reason that I’ve set opacity twice here is to prevent it from transitioning back too soon.
  • All the figures above are absolute (as my buttons are 100 x 100).

References

http://jsfiddle.net/AntonTrollback/nqQc7/

https://css-tricks.com/useful-nth-child-recipies/

https://css-tricks.com/using-multi-step-animations-transitions/

CSS Overlaying Controls (absolute and relative positioning)

Having looked at CSS in the past, and thought that it’s probably something that people who are better at UI design that me should concern themselves with, I’ve recently been playing with it while looking at the new Dot Net Core web apps.

The problem that I’m looking at in this particular article is how to overlay one control on top of another. I have no doubt that there are dozens of possibilities; but the two specific ones that I’ll be focusing on are positioning absolute and relative.

Target

The idea here is for a web-page that looks like this:

Target Layout

HTML

The HTML is pretty basic for this:

<body>
  <form>
    <div>
      <img src=""  />
    </div>
    <div class="overlay">
      <input type="text" name="destination" />
    </div>
  </form>
</body>

CSS: absolute positioning

We have the basic elements, so now it’s down to CSS to make the screen above. By default, web browsers will render the div’s sequentially, and so the input box will appear below the image.

One possibility is to use “absolute” positioning. This means that I can position an element without regard to where other elements on the page might be; here’s an example:

.overlay {
    position: absolute; 
    top: 30%;         
    text-align: center;
    z-index: 10;
}

img {
  background-color: blue;
  width: 100%;
  height: 500px;
}

I’ve used 30% here because it matters on the size of your viewport – so that’s not ideal. Also, the centre align doesn’t work. This kind of makes sense when you think about it, because you’re using an absolute position – so what do you want to centralise it to?

CSS: relative positioning

Relative positioning took me a while to work out. It sounds like it’s relative to something else – but it’s actually relative to itself. Here’s what I tried for relative positioning:

.overlay {
    position: relative;
    width: 80%;
    height: 35px;
    top: -50px;
    border: none;
    text-align: center;
    z-index: 10;    
}

As you can see, it’s top position is negative, so it moves up from where it would have been. Also, because the positioning is relative, the centre align now works, because it’s back in the flow of the page.

References

https://css-tricks.com/absolute-relative-fixed-positioining-how-do-they-differ/

https://www.w3.org/Style/Examples/007/center.en.html#block