Working with Lottie 21 Jan 2020  ■ Comments

Why Use Lottie

The key to success in modern attention economies is the ability to address the target market with the biggest impact at the least possible cost. User interfaces with crisp graphics bubble up to the top whilst pixelated aberrations barely get a glance. However, the traditional challenge of balancing the use of high-quality graphics, against the costs of storing, transporting and rendering them, has still prevailed.

Until now! Enter Lottie - a lightweight animated graphics format that solves this problem. Lotties will make applications smaller and more robust whilst incorporating a number of dynamic features that are not possible with traditional graphics formats.

Lottie is an animation format that can be played on the web, all major mobile platforms, IoTs and desktop/notebook computers without requiring any additional software. If you load LottieFiles on your browser now, straight away you will see Lottie animations playing on the page.

Is Lottie All That?

Why do Lotties play everywhere? How can Lotties increase the value of presentations and reduce the costs of producing them? Let’s find out.

Plays Everywhere

The Lottie web player runs on any browser that supports modern Javascript, meaning that Lotties can play on any modern browser. This also streamlines the deployment of Lotties in any desktop/notebook application as most modern software development kits support dynamic web content.

Libraries also exist for incorporating Lottie playback in IOS, Android and Tizen systems, facilitating the use of Lotties in mobile apps across the majority of phones and tablets. Big brands are rapidly adopting Lottie animations to enhance their mobile frontends and startups are using Lotties to differentiate their products.

Portable and Maintainable

Lottie animations are stored as plain text and are therefore human-readable. Hence, using Lotties in developing interfaces for applications reduces debugging time and overall lead-time to deployment. Plain text Lottie files are also easier to maintain and fine-tune without using specialized software tools.

The text data of Lottie animations are formatted as JSON, meaning they are ready for assimilation into Javascript, or any application development environment that supports JSON, with no additional parsing. This makes Lottie the most portable popular animated graphics format in the world.

Dynamic

Since Lottie data is JSON-formatted, its content can be readily manipulated or replaced at various levels of granularity, from fractional numbers to large chunks of objects. Furthermore, the replacement content can be loaded dynamically from any location. This makes Lottie the most dynamic popular animated graphics format in the world right now.

Lottie-powered interfaces can be used for data science and statistical applications too. Real-time data can be piped directly into Lottie animations on the fly, showing neat transitions across data sets. These data sets could be simple timestamps to visually depict the time of day or complex financial data to portray conditions of a stock market.

Scalable

Modern communication technologies are enabling businesses to scale up to volumes that demand all manners of innovations in data storage and retrieval. As traditional graphics content are bulky, these businesses make calculated use of them in developing user interfaces for their applications. Too much graphics could result in unacceptable storage and retrieval costs, particularly in terms of contextually searching and sorting the data.

The use of Lottie files in large-scale solutions can reduce the costs of storing and contextually sorting/searching graphics content. Using Lotties can also reduce transport costs due to their inherent dynamism - applications need only load the components of a Lottie animation that need updating at any given time.

Ultimate Quality

Lottie animations are drawn using vectors that define the dimensions of geometric shapes, along with various qualifiers that determine the characteristics of these shapes and how they move/change during the animation. The Lottie player does this rendering at the native resolution of the screen that it is playing on. This means that Lottie animations are always presented at the best quality possible on a user’s device.

If the user zooms into a Lottie animation, then the player redraws the zoomed content at the native resolution. As such, Lottie animations can never pixelate - a line in a Lottie animation will remain unchanged no matter the depth of magnification.

Intuitive Content Workflow

Lotties are currently created by exporting an animation produced in Adobe After Effects into a Lottie file. This means that existing Adobe After Effects users can immediately start creating Lottie content by using the LottieFiles Plugin. Designers unfamiliar with Adobe After Effects can start churning out Lottie content in mere hours given the vast array of guides and books on using the editor.

Once you create your Lottie, you can upload it to the Lottie Editor to test and tweak it. This tool can also export the animation to a few exotic variants of Lottie - although at the core, Lottie content format has not changed.

Once you are satisfied with your lottie content, you can start incorporating them into your applications. LottieFiles provides a link to the latest version of the raw Lottie file, so that it can be loaded into your applications at runtime.

Get Your Lottie On

Using Lotties in your applications will yield user interfaces that are fast, dynamic and beautiful. The storage requirements for the hosted component of your application would be vastly reduced and your customer’s bandwidth consumption trimmed.

All this happens whilst streamlining the content workflow, from creation to rendition on the user’s device. Meanwhile, your applications are ready for future incorporation of streaming data using the same Lotties with minimal tweaking.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of user interfaces, you should try Lotties before you decide on the graphics content you will be incorporating into your applications. There is virtually no learning curve because the content creation process is intuitive and the application development methodologies are familiar.

If you are a designer, have a look at the LottieFiles plugins to experiment with the latest Lottie content creation tools. And remember you can also test and/or tweak your Lotties using the Lottie Editor.

If you are developing Android, iOS or Windows applications, visit GitHub to get a Java library.

If you are developing for IOS or macOS, visit GitHub to get a Swift library.

Working on the technologies driving lottie.
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