Trident part 3 – timeline life cycle

June 22nd, 2009

Over the course of the next few days i’m going to talk about different concepts in the Trident animation library for Java applications. Part three talks about APIs to play, loop, resume, suspend and cancel timelines, as well as registering callbacks to listen to timeline life cycle events.

Timeline states

A timeline goes through different timeline states. The Timeline.TimelineState enum lists all possible timeline states, with the basic ones being:

  • Idle for timelines that are not playing. A timeline is idle when it’s been created but not played, or after it has finished playing
  • Playing forward for timelines that interpolate fields from start value to end value.
  • Playing reverse for timelines that interpolate fields from end value to start value.
  • Done for timelines that have finished playing. A done timeline becomes idle after notifying all listeners (see below).

Playing timelines

When the timeline is created, it is in the idle state. An idle timeline can be configured by the application code – even after it has finished playing. The configuration includes adding properties to interpolate, changing the initial delay and duration, adding callbacks and changing the ease function.

To start playing a timeline use the method. At every pulse the timeline will interpolate all registered properties (using the public setters), as well as notify all registered callbacks. If the timeline is already playing, it will continue playing from the same point.

Some scenarios required playing the timeline in reverse. In the example below we want to animate the button foreground from blue to red when the mouse moves over the button – this is done in the mouseEntered method. To provide consistent UI behavior, we also want to animate the foreground color from red back to blue when the mouse is moved away from the button – this is done by calling the Timeline.playReverse() in the mouseExisted method.

final Timeline rolloverTimeline = new Timeline(button);
button.addMouseListener(new MouseAdapter() {
	public void mouseEntered(MouseEvent e) {;

	public void mouseExited(MouseEvent e) {

Suppose the user moves the mouse over the button and then quickly moves it away. You do not want to have the reverse play start from the end value (full red color) – this will create a noticeable color flicker on the screen. Internally, playReverse() detects that this timeline is already playing (forward), and starts playing it in reverse from its current position.

Replaying timelines

While play() and playReverse() respect the current timeline position for already playing timelines, some scenarios require restarting the timeline. The Timeline.replay() and Timeline.replayReverse() can be used in these cases. Code example below shows the replay() API used to restart the rollover animation that interpolates the background color of a single grid rectangle from yellow to black color:

public SnakePanelRectangle() {
	this.backgroundColor =;
	this.isRollover = false;

	this.rolloverTimeline = new Timeline(this);

public void setRollover(boolean isRollover) {
	if (this.isRollover == isRollover)
	this.isRollover = isRollover;
	if (this.isRollover) {

Looping timelines

While most timelines need to play only once, some application scenarios require running timelines in loop. Pulsating the system tray icon to indicate new messages or showing an indefinite progress while your application connects over a slow line are examples of looping timelines.

Looping timelines are created and configured in exactly the same way as regular timelines, and they can interpolate float and custom properties of the associated main timeline object. The only difference is the way the looping timeline is played. There are two Timeline methods to start playing a looping timeline:

  • Timeline.playLoop(RepeatBehavior)
  • Timeline.playLoop(int, RepeatBehavior)

The first method starts an infinite loop (at least until the timeline is canceled). The second method runs the timeline for the specified number of loops. The Timeline.RepeatBehavior enum specifies what happens when the looping timeline reaches the “end” of the loop. Each timeline loop changes the internal duration fraction which is a number between 0.0 and 1.0. While a regular timeline ends once the fraction reaches the value 1.0, a looping timeline continues. The difference between the repeat behaviors is in the way the timeline fraction is computed:

  • In the loop mode the timeline fraction starts from 0.0, is interpolated to 1.0, and once that value is reached, it is reset it back to 0.0.
  • In the reverse mode, the timeline fraction is interpolated during odd loops from 0.0 to 1.0, and is interpolated during even loops from 1.0 down to 0.0.

As an example, the loop mode can be used for circular indefinite progress indication, where the matching “lead” angle is interpolated between 0 and 360 degrees. The reverse mode can be used for displaying indefinite linear progress indication that oscillates between the left and right markers.

Additional timeline operations

A timeline can be put in the suspended state by calling the Timeline.suspend() method. A suspended timeline can be resumed with the Timeline.resume() method.

To cancel a playing timeline, call the Timeline.cancel() method. In addition, there is a method to indicate that a looping timeline should stop once it reaches the end of the loop. For example, suppose that you have a pulsating animation of system tray icon to indicate unread messages. Once the message is read, this animation is canceled in the application code. However, immediate cancellation of the pulsating animation may result in jarring visuals, especially if it is done at the “peak” of the pulsation cycle. Calling Timeline.cancelAtCycleBreak() method will indicate that the looping animation should stop once it reaches the end of the loop.

Tracking timeline state

Simple application scenarios create timelines, configure them with fields to interpolate and then play them. However, a more complicated application logic may require tracking the state changes of the timeline. The Timeline.addCallback(TimelineCallback) allows registering a custom callback that will be notified in the following cases:

  • TimelineCallback.onTimelineStateChanged() – this is called whenever the timeline state is changed. For example, calling Timeline.suspend() will notify all the registered listeners that the timeline has changed its state from playing to suspended.
  • TimelineCallback.onTimelinePulse() – this is called on every timeline pulse.

The second method can be used by applications that do not wish to add public setters for all the fields that participate in the timelines. Instead of using the Timeline.addPropertyToInterpolate() to interpolate the fields via public setters, a timeline callback that interpolates the fields directly in the onTimelinePulse() can be used.