tween.js user guide

NOTE This is a work in progress. If you find that something is unclear or missing details, please file an issue and help make this guide better. Or feel free to submit clarifications or improvements of your own if you feel you can help too!

What is a tween? How do they work? Why do you want to use them?

A tween (from in-between) is a concept that allows you to change the values of the properties of an object in a smooth way. You just tell it which properties you want to change, which final values should they have when the tween finishes running, and how long should this take, and the tweening engine will take care of finding the intermediate values from the starting to the ending point. For example, suppose you have a position object with x and y coordinates:

var position = {x: 100, y: 0}

If you wanted to change the x value from 100 to 200, you’d do this:

// Create a tween for position first
var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(position)

// Then tell the tween we want to animate the x property over 1000 milliseconds{x: 200}, 1000)

Actually this won’t do anything yet. The tween has been created but it’s not active. You need to start it:

// And set it to start

Finally in order to run as smoothly as possible you should call the TWEEN.update function in the same main loop you’re using for animating. This generally looks like this:


function animate() {
	// [...]
	// [...]

This will take care of updating all active tweens; after 1 second (i.e. 1000 milliseconds) position.x will be 200.

But unless you print the value of x to the console, you can’t see its value changing. You might want to use the onUpdate callback:

tween.onUpdate(function (object) {

This function will be called each time the tween is updated; how often this happens depends on many factors–how fast (and how busy!) your computer or device is, for example.

So far we’ve only used tweens to print values to the console, but you could use it for things such as animating positions of three.js objects:

var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(cube.position).to({x: 100, y: 100, z: 100}, 10000).start()


function animate() {

	threeRenderer.render(scene, camera)

In this case, because the three.js renderer will look at the object’s position before rendering, you don’t need to use an explicit onUpdate callback.

You might have noticed something different here too: we’re chaining the tween function calls! Each tween function returns the tween instance, so you can rewrite the following code:

var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(position){x: 200}, 1000)

into this

var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(position).to({x: 200}, 1000).start()

You’ll see this a lot in the examples, so it’s good to be familiar with it! Check 04-simplest for a working example.

Animating with tween.js

Tween.js doesn’t run by itself. You need to tell it when to run, by explicitly calling the update method. The recommended method is to do this inside your main animation loop, which should be called with requestAnimationFrame for getting the best graphics performance:

We’ve seen this example before:


function animate() {
	// [...]
	// [...]

If called without parameters, update will determine the current time in order to find out how long has it been since the last time it ran.

However you can also pass an explicit time parameter to update. Thus,


means “update with time = 100 milliseconds”. You can use this to make sure that all the time-dependent functions in your code are using the very same time value. For example, suppose you’ve got a player and want to run tweens in sync. Your animate code could look like this:

var currentTime = player.currentTime

We use explicit time values for the unit tests. You can have a look at tests.js to see how we call TWEEN.update() with different values in order to simulate time passing.

Controlling a tween

start and stop

So far we’ve learnt about the Tween.start method, but there are more methods that control individual tweens. Probably the most important one is the start counterpart: stop. If you want to cancel a tween, just call this method over an individual tween:


Stopping a tween that was never started or that has already been stopped has no effect. No errors are thrown either.

The start method also accepts a time parameter. If you use it, the tween won’t start until that particular moment in time; otherwise it will start as soon as possible (i.e. on the next call to TWEEN.update).


Individual tweens have an update method. This is in fact called by TWEEN.update for tweens that have been constructed with only one argument.

In the following example, the second argument tells the new Tween not to add itself to the default group (TWEEN is an instance of TWEEN.Group). If the tween is not associated with a group (note that a group can be associated by passing it in as the second arg to the constructor), then the tween needs to be updated manually using its updated method like so:

const tween = new TWEEN.Tween(someObject, false).to(/*...*/).start()

function animate(time) {

IMPORTANT! You don’t need to call tween.update() directly if you’re using TWEEN.update() as a way to control all tweens by default, however we recommend that you either make your own groups of tweens or manually update your tweens directly as in the last example. The concept of using groups or individually-controlled tweens is much like the practice of avoiding use of global variables in your JavaScript code: it prevents one component from accidentally ruining the behavior of some other unrelated component.

Using TWEEN to control your tweens is like using globals: and it is only good for simple cases (f.e. small demos, prototypes, etc) but it may not scale well for big apps that may have different parts that need to animate tweens on differing schedules.


Things get more interesting when you sequence different tweens in order, i.e. setup one tween to start once a previous one has finished. We call this chaining tweens, and it’s done with the chain method. Thus, to make tweenB start after tweenA finishes:


Or, for an infinite chain, set tweenA to start once tweenB finishes:


Check Hello world to see an example of these infinite chains.

In other cases, you may want to chain multiple tweens to another tween in a way that they (the chained tweens) all start animating at the same time:

tweenA.chain(tweenB, tweenC)

WARNING: Calling tweenA.chain(tweenB) actually modifies tweenA so that tweenB is always started when tweenA finishes. The return value of chain is just tweenA, not a new tween.


If you wanted a tween to repeat forever you could chain it to itself, but a better way is to use the repeat method. It accepts a parameter that describes how many repetitions you want after the first tween is completed:

tween.repeat(10) // repeats 10 times after the first tween and stops
tween.repeat(Infinity) // repeats forever

The total number of tweens will be the repeat parameter plus one for the initial tween. Check the Repeat example.


This function only has effect if used along with repeat. When active, the behaviour of the tween will be like a yoyo, i.e. it will bounce to and from the start and end values, instead of just repeating the same sequence from the beginning.


More complex arrangements might require delaying a tween before it actually starts running. You can do that using the delay method:


will start executing 1 second after the start method has been called.


Normally the delay time is applied between repetitions of a tween, but if a value is provided to the repeatDelay function then that value will determine the total time elapsed between repetitions of a tween.

Consider this example:


The first iteration of the tween will happen after one second, the second iteration will happen a half second after the first iteration ends, the third iteration will happen a half second after the second iteration ends, etc. If you want to delay the initial iteration but you don’t want any delay between iterations, then make sure to call tween.repeatDelay(0).


If dynamic is set to true (it defaults to false) objects passed to can be modified on the outside of a tween while the tween is animating. This can be used to dynamically modify the outcome of a tween while it is running.

See the Dynamic to example. In that example, in both scenes, the position of the rabbit is updated during the animation. The rabbit position happens to be the object passed into the fox’s method. As the rabbit position is updated, in the first scene with .dynamic(false) the fox moves towards the initial position of the rabbit and does not chase the rabbit, and in the second scene with .dynamic(true) the final destination of the fox is hence also updated which makes the fox chase the rabbit.

See the other dynamic to examples for more ideas.

IMPORTANT! When dynamic is set to false, Tween makes a copy of the object passed into and will never modify it (hence updating the original object from the outside is not dynamic. When dynamic is true, Tween uses the original object as the source of values during animation (every update reads the values, hence they can be modified dynamicall) but note that in this mode, Tween will modify any interpolation arrays of the object passed into which may cause side-effects on any external code that may also rely on the same object.

Controlling all the tweens

The following methods are found in the TWEEN global object, and you generally won’t need to use most of them, except for update. TWEEN is effectively an instance of TWEEN.Group, and by default all new Tweens are associated to this global Group unless otherwise specified (see the next section on grouping tweens with your own Groups).


We’ve already talked about this method. It is used to update all the active tweens.

If time is not specified, it will use the current time.

TWEEN.getAll and TWEEN.removeAll

Used to get a reference to the active tweens array and to remove all of them from the array with just one call, respectively.

TWEEN.add(tween) and TWEEN.remove(tween)

Used to add a tween to the list of active tweens, or to remove a specific one from the list, respectively.

These methods are usually used internally only, but are exposed just in case you want to do something funny.

Controlling groups of tweens

Using the TWEEN singleton to manage your tweens can cause issues in large apps with many components. In these cases, you may want to create your own smaller groups of tweens.

Example: cross-component conflict

A conflict can occur if you have multiple components using TWEEN, and each component wants to manage its own set of tweens. If one component calls TWEEN.update() or TWEEN.removeAll() the tweens of other components will also be updated or removed.

Creating your own tween groups

To solve this, each component can make their own instance of TWEEN.Group (which is what the global TWEEN object uses internally). These groups can be passed in as a second optional parameter when instantiating a new tween:

var groupA = new TWEEN.Group()
var groupB = new TWEEN.Group()

var tweenA = new TWEEN.Tween({x: 1}, groupA).to({x: 10}, 100).start()

var tweenB = new TWEEN.Tween({x: 1}, groupB).to({x: 10}, 100).start()

var tweenC = new TWEEN.Tween({x: 1}).to({x: 10}, 100).start()

groupA.update() // only updates tweenA
groupB.update() // only updates tweenB
TWEEN.update() // only updates tweenC

groupA.removeAll() // only removes tweenA
groupB.removeAll() // only removes tweenB
TWEEN.removeAll() // only removes tweenC

In this way, each component can handle creating, updating, and destroying its own set of tweens.

Changing the easing function (AKA make it bouncy)

Tween.js will perform the interpolation between values (i.e. the easing) in a linear manner, so the change will be directly proportional to the elapsed time. This is predictable but also quite uninteresting visually wise. Worry not–this behaviour can be easily changed using the easing method. For example:


This will result in the tween slowly starting to change towards the final value, accelerating towards the middle, and then quickly reaching its final value. In contrast, TWEEN.Easing.Quadratic.Out would start changing quickly towards the value, but then slow down as it approaches the final value.

Available easing functions: TWEEN.Easing

There are a few existing easing functions provided with tween.js. They are grouped by the type of equation they represent: Linear, Quadratic, Cubic, Quartic, Quintic, Sinusoidal, Exponential, Circular, Elastic, Back and Bounce, and then by the easing type: In, Out and InOut.

Probably the names won’t be saying anything to you unless you’re familiar with these concepts already, so it is probably the time to check the Graphs example, which graphs all the curves in one page so you can compare how they look at a glance.

Credit where credit is due: these functions are derived from the original set of equations that Robert Penner graciously made available as free software a few years ago, but have been optimised to play nicely with JavaScript.

Using a custom easing function

Not only can you use any of the existing functions, but you can also provide your own, as long as it follows a couple of conventions:

The easing function is only called once per tween on each update, no matter how many properties are to be changed. The result is then used with the initial value and the difference (the deltas) between this and the final values, as in this pseudocode:

easedElapsed = easing(k);
for each property:
    newPropertyValue = initialPropertyValue + propertyDelta * easedElapsed;

For the performance-obsessed people out there: the deltas are calculated only when start() is called on a tween.

So let’s suppose you wanted to use a custom easing function that eased the values but applied a Math.floor to the output, so only the integer part would be returned, resulting in a sort of step-ladder output:

function tenStepEasing(k) {
	return Math.floor(k * 10) / 10

And you could use it in a tween by simply calling its easing method, as we’ve seen before:


Check the graphs for custom easing functions example to see this in action (and also some metaprogramming for generating step functions).


Another powerful feature is to be able to run your own functions at specific times in each tween’s life cycle. This is usually required when changing properties is not enough.

For example, suppose you’re trying to animate some object whose properties can’t be accessed directly but require you to call a setter instead. You can use an update callback to read the new updated values and then manually call the setters. All callbacks are passed the tweened object as the only parameter.

var trickyObjTween = new TWEEN.Tween({
	propertyA: trickyObj.getPropertyA(),
	propertyB: trickyObj.getPropertyB(),
	.to({propertyA: 100, propertyB: 200})
	.onUpdate(function (object) {

Or imagine you want to play a sound when a tween is started. You can use a start callback:

var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(obj).to({x: 100}).onStart(function () {

The scope for each callback is the tweened object–in this case, obj.


Executed right before the tween starts animating, after any delay time specified by the delay method. This will be executed only once per tween, i.e. it will not be run when the tween is repeated via repeat().

It is great for synchronising to other events or triggering actions you want to happen when a tween starts.

The tweened object is passed in as the first parameter.


Executed when a tween is explicitly stopped via stop(), but not when it is completed normally, and before stopping any possible chained tween.

The tweened object is passed in as the first parameter.


Executed each time the tween is updated, after the values have been actually updated.

The tweened object is passed in as the first parameter.


Executed when a tween is finished normally (i.e. not stopped).

The tweened object is passed in as the first parameter.


Executed whenever a tween has just finished one repetition and will begin another.

The tweened object is passed in as the first parameter.

Advanced tweening

Relative values

You can also use relative values when using the to method. When the tween is started, Tween.js will read the current property values and apply the relative values to find out the new final values. But you need to use quotes or the values will be taken as absolute. Let’s see this with an example:

// This will make the `x` property be 100, always
var absoluteTween = new TWEEN.Tween(absoluteObj).to({x: 100})

// Suppose absoluteObj.x is 0 now
absoluteTween.start() // Makes x go to 100

// Suppose absoluteObj.x is -100 now
absoluteTween.start() // Makes x go to 100

// In contrast...

// This will make the `x` property be 100 units more,
// relative to the actual value when it starts
var relativeTween = new TWEEN.Tween(relativeObj).to({x: '+100'})

// Suppose relativeObj.x is 0 now
relativeTween.start() // Makes x go to 0 +100 = 100

// Suppose relativeObj.x is -100 now
relativeTween.start() // Makes x go to -100 +100 = 0

Check 09_relative_values for an example.

Tweening nested objects

Tween.js can also change properties across nested objects. For example:

var nestedObject = {scale: {x: 0, y: 0}, alpha: 0}
var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(nestedObject).to({scale: {x: 100, y: 100}, alpha: 1})

Tweening to arrays of values

In addition to tweening to an absolute or a relative value, you can also have Tween.js change properties across a series of values. To do this, you just need to specify an array of values instead of a single value for a property. For example:

var tween = new TWEEN.Tween(relativeObj).to({x: [0, -100, 100]})

will make x go from its initial value to 0, -100 and 100.

The way these values are calculated is as follows:

For example, when the tween has just started (progress is 0), the interpolation function will return the first value in the array. When the tween is halfway, the interpolation function will return a value approximately in the middle of the array, and when the tween is at the end, the interpolation function will return the last value.

You can change the interpolation function with the interpolation method. For example:


The following values are available:

The default is Linear.

Note that the interpolation function is global to all properties that are tweened with arrays in the same tween. You can’t make property A change with an array and a Linear function, and property B with an array too and a Bezier function using the same tween; you should use two tween objects running over the same object but modifying different properties and using different interpolation functions.

Check 06_array_interpolation for an example.

Getting the best performance

While Tween.js tries to be performant on its own, nothing prevents you from using it in a way that is counterperformant. Here are some of the ways you can avoid slowing down your projects when using Tween.js (or when animating in the web, in general).

Use performant CSS

When you try to animate the position of an element in the page, the easiest solution is to animate the top and left style properties, like this:

var element = document.getElementById('myElement')
var tween = new TWEEN.Tween({top: 0, left: 0}).to({top: 100, left: 100}, 1000).onUpdate(function (object) { = + 'px' = object.left + 'px'

but this is really inefficient because altering these properties forces the browser to recalculate the layout on each update, and this is a very costly operation. Instead of using these, you should use transform, which doesn’t invalidate the layout and will also be hardware accelerated when possible, like this:

var element = document.getElementById('myElement')
var tween = new TWEEN.Tween({top: 0, left: 0}).to({top: 100, left: 100}, 1000).onUpdate(function (object) { = 'translate(' + object.left + 'px, ' + + 'px)'

If you want to read more about this, have a look at this article.

However, if your animation needs are that simple, it might be better to just use CSS animations or transitions, where applicable, so that the browser can optimise as much as possible. Tween.js is most useful when your animation needs involve complex arrangements, i.e. you need to sync several tweens together, have some start after one has finished, loop them a number of times, have graphics that are not rendered with CSS but with Canvas or WebGL, etc.

Be good to the Garbage collector (alias the GC)

If you use an onUpdate callback, you need to be very careful with what you put on it. This function will be called many times per second, so if you’re doing costly operations on each update, you might block the main thread and cause horrible jank, or—if your operations involve memory allocations, you’ll end up getting the garbage collector to run too often, and cause jank too. So just don’t do either of those things. Keep your onUpdate callbacks very lightweight, and be sure to also use a memory profiler while you’re developing.

Crazy tweening

This is something you might not use often, but you can use the tweening equations outside of Tween.js. They’re just functions, after all. So you could use them to calculate smooth curves as input data. For example, they’re used to generate audio data in this experiment.