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The gsap object serves as the access point for most of GSAP's functionality. It's just a generic object with various methods and properties that create and control Tweens and Timelines, two of the most important concepts to understand.

Quick Overview

For a quick overview of the GSAP object, check out this video from the "GSAP 3 Express" course by - one of the best ways to learn the basics.

To get the most out of GSAP, it's crucial that you understand what Tweens and Timelines are:

What's a Tween?

A Tween is what does all the animation work - think of it like a high-performance property setter. You feed in targets (the objects you want to animate), a duration, and any properties you want it to animate and then when the Tween's playhead moves to a new position, figures out what the property values should be at that point applies them accordingly.

Common methods for creating a Tween:

For simple animations (no fancy sequencing), the methods above are all you need! For example:

//rotate and move elements with a class of "box" ("x" is a shortcut for a translateX() transform) over the course of 1 second.".box", { rotation: 27, x: 100, duration: 1 });


You can do basic sequencing by using the delay special property, but Timelines make sequencing and complex choreography much, much easier.

What's a Timeline?

A Timeline is a container for Tweens. It's the ultimate sequencing tool that lets you position animations in time wherever you want and then control the whole sequence easily with methods like pause(), play(), progress(), reverse(), timeScale(), etc.

Create as many Timelines as you want. You can even nest them which is fantastic for modularizing your animation code! Every animation (Tween and Timeline) gets placed onto a parent timeline (the globalTimeline by default). Moving a Timeline's playhead cascades down through its children so that the playheads stay aligned. A Timeline is purely about grouping things and coordinating time/playheads - it never actually sets properties on targets (Tweens handle that).

|--tween1--| |

Method for creating a Timeline:

GSAP's API lets you control virtually anything on-the-fly, such as the playhead position, the startTime of any child, even play/pause/reverse the timeline or alter the timeScale itself.

Sequencing things in a Timeline

First, create a Timeline:

var tl = gsap.timeline();

Then add a tween using one of the convenience methods - to(), from(), or fromTo():".box", { duration: 2, x: 100, opacity: 0.5 });

Do that as many times as you want. Notice we're calling .to() on the timeline instance (the variable tl in this case), not the gsap object. This creates a tween and immediately puts it into that particular Timeline., on the other hand, creates a standalone tween. By default, the animations will be sequenced one-after-the-other. You can even use method chaining to simplify your code like this:

//sequenced one-after-the-other".box1", { duration: 2, x: 100 }) //notice that there's no semicolon!
.to(".box2", { duration: 1, y: 200 })
.to(".box3", { duration: 3, rotation: 360 });

Note: The whole GSAP platform is object-oriented and you could create individual tween instances with, for example, and then timeline.add() each one but it's just easier to call .to(), .from(), or .fromTo() directly on the Timeline instance to do the same thing in fewer steps.


Control placement with the position parameter

Define exactly where you want your animations to be placed into the timeline by using the optional position parameter. A number indicates an absolute time (in seconds), or a string with a "+=" or "-=" prefix indicates an offset relative to the END of the timeline. For example, "+=2" would be 2 seconds after the end, creating a 2-second gap. "-=2" would create a 2-second overlap.

//starts at EXACTLY 1.5 seconds from the start of the Timeline:, 1.5)
.to(..., "-=0.75") //overlaps by 0.75 seconds
.to(..., "+=1") //adds a 1-second gap before


Use labels to mark certain spots on the timeline so that you can place animations there or navigate there during playback.

//add a label at exactly 3 seconds
tl.addLabel("step2", 3)
.to(..., "step2") //starts at the step2 label
.to(..., "step2+=0.75") //0.75 seconds after the step2 label

//then later, we can seek() to that spot:"step2");

Controlling Tweens and Timelines

Tween and Timeline both extend an Animation class that exposes a myriad of useful methods and properties. Here are some of the most frequently used:

You can reference the Tween or Timeline instance with a variable, and then control it whenever you want:

//you only need to create a variable if you want to control it later...
var tween =;
var tl = gsap.timeline(); //"tl" short for timeline; //add animations.

//now we can control them...
tween.timeScale(2); //double speed; //jump to 3 seconds in
tl.progress(0.5); //halfway through