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Expressive Animator: free software vector animation and motion graphics editor (expressivesuite.com)
145 points by brylie 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 47 comments

My immediate question as a cranky ex-animator who occasionally thinks of trying to get back into it:

Can I draw stuff directly in this, or is this just an After Effects to your as-yet-unreleased Canvas's Illustrator?

And by "draw" I don't mean "hassle with the pen tool and basic shape tools that I see down the edge of the toolbar in your screenshot", I mean "quickly draw lines with some kind of pencil/brush, and do some kind of simulation of frame-by-frame animation".

The screenshots just look like After Effects, and, well, that's just one visit to the Creative Cloud app away for me.

To me it seems, it aims to be something like Adobe Animate (formerly Flash), which is really something we need OpenSource.

But there would be lot's and lot's of work to be done, to really compete with it(I cannot find any drawing tools as of now). But it looks good so far, I think.

Once it's backed with a scripting language like Python or Lua it will be a very compelling Flash alternative (even though Flash is long dead now).

Since it runs in the browser, I suppose javascript will be the obvious choice.

If you click "try the preview" you can see that there's a pen tool but it doesn't seem to be implemented yet. Just rectangles so far, but you do indeed draw on the stage a la Flash/Animate.

https://www.wickeditor.com/ might be of interest to you

I just want something with the flexibility of Flash again. Even Adobe Animate misses the mark for me.

Seems pretty solid, but very barebones. There doesn't even seem to be a way to change the interpolation curves between keyframes (unless I missed it?)

The open source world needs more tools like this, so keep it up! I'll certainly be watching this.

EDIT I just saw this:

> Supported browsers: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge

That's not good. I tried the preview in Firefox and it seemed to work fine. You do you, but if you're only targeting Chrome then count me as one potential user/customer lost.

That's directly under

> Cross-platform, online and offline

> Work directly online in the browser or install the PWA (progressive web application) and enjoy a fully offline experience.

Chrome and Edge support PWAs, while Firefox does not.

Of course, I could be interpreting this wrong, as saving and loading does not work in Firefox.

So it needs a browser. Wonderful. And not any browser. So now google knows what i'm drawing. Some people never learn.

Looks really nice. I think you've done a good job with the landing page. The app itself is pretty barebones right now and doesn't seem to support importing images or exporting video (correct me if I'm wrong)?

I'm curious how you plan to handle rendering the animations to a video. I think that will be a really challenging part to do in-browser, but maybe there are some libraries for this that I'm unaware of.

I'm afraid that I disagree with your appreciation of the landing page. It seems, from first blush, that I can't get an immediate sense of what it does and how it does so, exactly. A link to some video description or example would be handy.

I can't even find something on YouTube?

Do I have to install and see? If so, that seems like a wee bit of a high bar.

Agreed. As soon as I knew it was an animation tool, my next question was: which formats can it output? That would tell me a lot about what I can use it for and infer some things about what it does. That is not answered on the landing page.

Even after using the app, I can't figure out how to save/export to any format other than their own (eaf). Maybe that's why they don't mention it on the landing page. I have high hopes, but it needs more work before it'll be useful to the masses.

> Do I have to install and see? If so, that seems like a wee bit of a high bar.

It runs in the browser. There's a big huge "try now" button at the top of the page.

I have literally no idea how I missed that. Moron!

Still, being dropped into that example doesn't really put me anywhere useful. A quick video or some quick step-through from the homepage would be good.

How did I miss that button?!

Two options to record canvas to video file:

1. MediaRecorder (requires browser support) https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/MediaStream...

2. ffmpeg.wasm https://github.com/ffmpegwasm/ffmpeg.wasm/

One way would be to connect the browser version to a desktop version, so you can save your project and open it in desktop which can access video encoding.

Someone has already compiled ffmpeg into wasm, so there's that as an option. As slow as that might be, but it could be done.

What’s crazy is that they seem to be using a js (wasm) port of skia.


edit: upon closer inspection it seems to be a wrapper, not a port.

Woah! On a side note, William Candillon, one of the developers (creators?) of reanimated[0], animation library for React Native replied to the first comment in one of his YouTube videos[1] that the team is looking into integrating Skia into React Native for better performance.

[0]: https://www.reanimated2.com/

[1]: https://youtu.be/RHlGPIEThdo

Hi, everybody! Full disclaimer: I'm one of the developers behind Expressive Suite. Thank you all for your feedback; it has been beneficial. The first thing I want to address is the browser support. Sadly, Firefox and Safari do not support many of the features that most Chromium-based browsers do. There are a thousand different things that make an application feel like an application: access to the file system, access to local fonts, unrestricted access to the clipboard, etc. Without these features, it is hard to create something great. When Firefox and Safari add support for all of these, we'll gladly support them too. About the features (or the lack of them): what you see is the first pre-release of the software. We'll release a new version every week until the software matures. Unfortunately, Github does not allow us to set milestones at the organization level, so you'll need to watch the other repositories too. https://github.com/ExpressiveSuite/CanvasEngine/milestones

Also, take a look at the opened issues, and you will see what kind of formats we are planning to support. https://github.com/ExpressiveSuite/ExpressiveAnimator/issues

One more thing: we will support video exports somewhere in September. Why September? Because that's when WebCodecs will be available in Chromium-based browsers. I hope this helps.

Don’t let the negative comments about browser compatibility get you down. These are perfectly reasonable issues, and it’s really hard making something this full featured fully cross-compatible.

While ideally there are graceful degradations for challenging browser feature situations, prioritizing getting this out into the world is fine, and the hacker news audience is definitely not representative.

You are getting the blame for the general situation of uneven advanced browser feature implementations, when that should be constructively turned elsewhere.

Access to the file system, the clipboard etc. is a serious security risk. You are committed to supporting deliberately insecure browsers instead of good ones, because the latter are limiting: a worrying backwards attitude towards users.

By the way, what are the benefits that made you choose a web app instead of a proper native application?

Possibly a very dumb question: what's the benefit of using this over Blender? I've been using Blender for all my 2d animation needs for a while now and I don't see a reason to switch to Expressive Suite.

Is one of its main appeals the browser-based editing?

Can you export Lottie animations and SVG animations with Blender? With this app you will be able to do that.

Can this animate and export svgs? I have been looking for something that can do that for a while but didn't really find a satisfying solution so ended up manually editing the svgs (which is quite laborious).

There's an issue for adding SVG export in the repo issues list.

This is bare-bones to say the least. So much so that I don't understand why it has been showcased here on HN. Anyhoo, I look forward to revisiting in a year or so.

>Supported browsers: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge

You forget the best viewed at 800x600 badge!

Seriously though, why is this even necessary? What are you doing that can't be done in FF or Safari?

>What are you doing that can't be done in FF or Safari?

It actually works in FF, so maybe testing to make sure it works? If their Github account is accurate, this is done by a 3 person team, so resources for that sort of thing are probably not abundant.

How about Dev A = Chromium, Dev B = FF, Dev C = Safari?

Are you going to pay them money for the FF and Safari version? Or maybe contribute some code?

I'm contributing by offering suggestions on how to maximize the use of their time. I'm not even asking for a consultant's fee.

"Seriously though, why is this even necessary? What are you doing that can't be done in FF or Safari?"

Do you really think this is a helpful suggestion?

You are simply suggesting more work for the dev. That is not really helpful.

So what don't you simply answer the question of what's being done that they feel the need to call out Chromium based browsers?

Another commenter pointed out that Firefox doesn't yet offer PWA support.

Like the other poster said: testing.

The browsers still do not provide a consistent behavior.

When your goal is to ship main features as soon as possible, you cannot give priority to a niche browser.

That's not maximizing the use of their time. Why spend time supporting platforms to please someone complaining on HN that will never use and never contribute to their project?

I asked a legitmate question, but people on HN think that it is complaining. It took several layers to get an actual answer to the actual question of what is chromium based browsers doing that other browsers are not.

Some people can take questions for what they are, an actual quest for understanding. Others take questions as a challenge and accusation.

> I asked a legitmate question, but people on HN think that it is complaining.

The way you asked it sounded like a complaint more than a legitimate question.

> It took several layers to get an actual answer to the actual question of what is chromium based browsers doing that other browsers are not.

You're assuming that this is due to the difference between Chromium and other browsers, but this could be just due to testing. Browser compatibility takes time to get right. It has an opportunity cost.

> Some people can take questions for what they are, an actual quest for understanding. Others take questions as a challenge and accusation.

Your question was voiced as a challenge and accusation. If you want your questions to be read as a quest for understanding, try to show more empathy, show some humility and show that you already thought of possible answers. Something like this: "I was surprised to see that this is only compatible with Chromium. I can't think of any APIs specific to Chromium that are necessary for this, but maybe I missed something. Is compatibility with other browsers on the roadmap?".

>Some people can take questions for what they are, an actual quest for understanding.

When your question is accompanied by the suggestion that you know better than the developers how they should be spending their time, it doesn't come off as a quest for understanding.

This looks similar to https://www.wickeditor.com/#/ , at least in it's current form.

The screenshot at the top of the landing page is squished really narrow on my phone (looks like it's about 3x taller than it should be at that width).

Hard to understand what this offers. The linked web page barely says anything. The roadmap links to a Github page that is even less clear.

Probably depends on your background, for me the hero text and the screenshot (vector drawing tools + keyframe timeline + file operations) conveyed immediately what this offers and the live preview made it even clearer.

Especially as I was looking for something like this for quite some time within the free software space.

Sure, I get all that. The screenshot tells me it's a GUI-based animation tool. Those exist by the bucketload.

- Does it export to HTML? GIF? MP4?

- Can it animate SVGs?

- Does it support Sprites?

I think if someone was wanting to move away from After Effects, they'd want to know these things.

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