Orchestrate animations across components in one place
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README.md

Conductor

Conductor

Orchestrate animations across components in one place

Not a new animation syntax, but a way to organize your code to make Animated easier to work with. Animation code is condensed into a wrapper component that feeds Animated styles to its children.

Conductor Diagram

I wrote this to address the fact that Animated code can get bulky and difficult to coordinate between subcomponents.

Install

yarn add react-native-conductor - or - npm install --save react-native-conductor

Example

The included PulldownMenuExample project features a collapsing nav header modeled on the Airbnb app. (This isn't a collapsing header module! I just needed a sufficiently complex use case to illustrate Conductor.)

Pulldown Menu Example

To run:

  • clone this repo
  • cd into the repo and then cd examples/PulldownMenuExample
  • run yarn, then yarn ios to start (or npm i, npm run ios)

Docs

The presumed usage is one Conductor per scene or component group, not a single one for a whole app. Conductors can be nested, so subcomponents can have their own as needed.

This example is a vanilla React component class named HomeConductor that wraps a HomeScene component. This class houses all of your Animated code.

import { Conductor_ } from 'react-native-conductor'
import HomeScene from './HomeScene'

export default class HomeConductor extends React.Component {

  // ... all the animationz ...
  headerHeight = new Animated.Value(NORMAL_HEIGHT)
  headerHeightStyle = { height: this.headerHeight }

  handleMenuItemPress = (index, data) => {
   // ... trigger some animation on a user action, etc.
    this.doIntroSequence()
  }

Now for the setup: 'decorate' your main component with a Conductor_ tag that provides its animated styles by string key:

  render() {
    return (
      <Conductor_
        animatedStyles={{
          'headerHeight': this.headerHeightStyle,
          // ... and all the others – styles can be objects or arrays
        }}
      >
        <HomeScene
          {...this.props}
          onScrollPositionChange={this.handleScrollPositionChange}
          onMenuItemPress={this.handleMenuItemPress}
        />
      </Conductor_>
    )
  }
}

Then in any child component, no matter how deeply nested:

import { AnimatedNode_ } from 'react-native-conductor'
...
  <AnimatedNode_
    animationKey='headerHeight'
  >
    <Animated.View ...etc. />
  </AnimatedNode_>

This pipes all animated styles you've associated with 'headerHeight' onto any child node, which must be an Animated-enabled tag – Animated.ViewAnimated.Image, Animated.Text, or a custom component generated using createAnimatedComponent().

Happily, the Conductor doesn't need to know or care about the structure of the view hierarchy, and child components only need to declare that they want styles to receive them, no extra work is required. Please read my Medium post for more.

That's it!

Conductor_ Tips

  • Your file bundle can be kept most portable by putting it in a folder, in this case named Home, and then including an index file that does export { default } from './HomeConductor'. This allows easy import using import Home from './Home'.

  • If you have a 'smart' container for Redux or Mobx wiring around your component, don't put the Conductor around that wrapper! A Conductor 'belongs to' the presentation component and should wrap it directly. (A smart container doesn't really belong in the component folder at all, since it's app-specific.)

AnimatedNode_ Tips

  • Decorated views should declare default (non-animated) styles so the view will render correctly without the Conductor, or if used with a different Conductor.

  • AnimatedNode_ tags annotate that views receive styles from above, but you don't see which animated styles are piped in. This might be a drawback in some cases, although I've found it freeing in practice: responsibility is offloaded to the Conductor; no extra linkages need to be maintained.

  • Receiving tags are non-unique, in the odd case that two different views want the same animations.

  • Only one set of styles can be indicated with animationKey, but an array of styles may be passed for any key.

Communication with a Conductor

Child nodes need a way to start animations, and to receive on-complete callbacks. There are two ways to solve this:

  1. If you're comfortable using an event emitter, this neatly solves for both directions. You're ready to go!

  2. If you prefer to use callbacks, this is straightforward in the child-to-parent direction (see onMenuItemPress above) but not in the case where a Conductor needs to pass an onComplete to a child.

To keep your Animated code as pure as possible (vs. introducing a new tween syntax), an imperative API is provided that allows you to send callbacks to any child easily:

fireCallback(animationKey: string, ...args)

This method is called directly on the Conductor_ node so you must set a ref.

<Conductor_
  animatedStyles={{ headerHeight: this.headerHeightStyle }}
  ref={(r) => { this.conductor = r }}
/>
...
Animated.timing(this.headerHeight, {...}, () => {
  this.conductor.fireCallback('headerHeight', 'This is on complete')
})

Child:

<AnimatedNode_
  animationKey='headerHeight'
  onCallback={this.handleHeaderHeightCallback}
>

It's called onCallback, not onComplete, since this is just a function-call mechanism that can be used at any time – on complete, on start, after a timeout.

Nested Conductors

Conductors can be nested. This enables you to break your animation code into more manageable chunks, or separate a subcomponent's animations into a discreet package to make it more portable.

Other Animation Libs

This module doesn't intend to replace other solutions (e.g. JSX-based libs), and can be used in tandem with those efficiently since everyone uses Animated. Use JSX for fades and drifts; use Conductor when you turn to Animated for the more complex cases.

Thanks

Conductor was created for my work at Instrument. Special thanks to their management for being cool enough to encourage their developers to release open source work! Big thanks also to @kylpo and the FUN dev team for their help and inspiration.

Medium Post

Conductor: Orchestrate Animation in React Native