Our final Ship It Days project is ALFA, or the Awesome Logo of Foreach Animation. It had the same requirements as the other projects, of course: don’t work on it alone, take about two days to complete and benefit the company in some way. While that didn’t work out completely as planned, we did learn a lot and got really close to where we wanted to be.
What We Ended Up With
The final result is a product that is 90% finished, therefore falling short of the goal of having something shippable. The entire project just had a couple of bugs too many, unfortunately, but that's always a risk when taking on a task like this. We did make an entire animated logo, a dynamic background in the Foreach house style and an animated high-score table. Stitching those together, however, proved to be just a step too far.
How We Did It
Based on a talk we saw at Fronteers 2017 by Val Head, we chose to go with the animation framework Anime.js, because it promised a shallow learning curve, the ability to plot out animations on a timeline and a lot of examples.
We split our team in half: two of us would animate the background and presentation pages, the other two would animate the Foreach logo.
Splitting up the team wasn’t the best choice. By implementing a framework that no-one really knew, we encountered the same issues and tried to solve them in parallel, but didn’t learn from the other’s experiences. Communication is key! Anime.js is excellent for stand-alone animations. However, combining several timelines together is not quite easy, especially if you only try to do this at the last possible minute. We had to improvise with some vanilla JS, which actually caused some of the bugs. The goal of making it configurable and reusable was thrown out quite quickly. Focussing on realistic goals and adapting our planning early on was a lesson we learned the hard way.
As a first step, we’d like to get rid of the couple bugs that still plague our animation. Once that’s done, we’d love to use this in ‘production’ at our next event, but that will still require some development to make the content customizable. Once we iron out these kinks, though, we’ll no doubt have one of the prettiest presentations in all of the booths!
“Failure is always an option”, as Adam Savage puts it. And while we can’t say we’re entirely happy with the outcome, we did learn a lot about how to work with Anime.js, as well as how (not) to structure a project as a team. So, a failure, but also a learning opportunity. And that’s not bad for a Ship It Days project.
Oh, and of course, here's a snippet of the animation: