openFrameworks: Making Easy Animations With ofxActionManager

A port of cocos2dx action system

January 16, 2016 - 4 minute read -
cpp programming openFrameworks

I picked up using openFrameworks a while ago. But even before that I’ve been doing game development with Cocos2dx. It’s really a great framework and you come to get used to some aspects of it. And it becomes harder for you to live without them. :D

Take the Action system in Cocos2dx as an example. It’s a great system in which you can make easy animations, chain them, and create new ones on condition. It’s a great fire-and-forget system for animations. You want your circle to move to a position? Easy: myCircle->runAction(MoveTo::create(.5f, Vec2(x, y))). And you don’t have to keep track of it once you run it. It will do its job and self-destroy.

So that’s why I also wanted to be able to use such a system in openFrameworks. So I started porting the system to openFrameworks and I named it ofxActionManager. You can find the code in my GitHub account.

Actions work on Nodes in Cocos2dx. I’m not an expert on openFrameworks. But I thought since people do a lot of custom drawing and stuff in openFrameworks I thought it’d be better to make the Actions depend on a smaller, lightweight class. So instead of Node, ofxActionManager uses ActionTarget which is a class with rotation, position, scale and color properties. So when you want to use the action system, you can either inherit ActionTarget and call your update and draw functions. Or you can just store it as a variable and get the necessary information form that.

Let’s talk about what each class is responsible for.

  • Action: This is the base class for all the actions.
  • FiniteTimeAction: It inherits Action and it is used for actions that have a duration. 0 seconds is also considered a duration.
  • ActionInterval: An interval action is an action that takes place within a certain period of time. It has an start time, and a finish time.
  • ActionInstant: Instant actions don’t have any duration and they are executed immediately and one time only.
  • ActionEase: This is the base class for the easing actions that run on other actions.

By using these base classes, you can create any number of actions you want. Cocos2dx has actions to manipulate position, scale, rotation, color, visibility… And many more can be implemented as needed.

Let’s see an example in openFrameworks. Let’s create a MyCircle class that inherits ActionTarget.

#include "ActionTarget.h"

class MyCircle : public ActionTarget
    MyCircle(float radius = 30.f)
        : m_Radius(radius)

    void draw()
        ofCircle(m_Position, m_Radius);

    float m_Radius;

ActionTarget has a helper function ActionTarget::runAction(Action *action). This function takes the action its given and adds it our action manager setting the target to itself.

//Part ofApp.h
#include "MyCircle.h"

    MyCircle m_Circle;
//Part of ofApp.cpp
#include "ofxActionManager.h"

    : m_Circle()


void ofApp::update()
    //ActionManager is a singleton class. Make sure to call update in just one place

void ofApp::draw()

void ofApp::mouseReleased(int x, int y, int button)
    //Let's move the circle to the mouse position
    if (button == OF_MOUSE_BUTTON_1) {
        m_Circle.runAction(1.f, MoveTo::create(ofVec2f(x, y)));
    else {
        //We can also use easings on any action
        auto moveAction = MoveTo::create(ofVec2f(x, y));
        m_Circle.runAction(1.f, EaseBackIn::create(moveAction));

Once you call runAction, the circle will move to the position with a smooth and eased animation. Under the hood, ActionTarget::runAction(Action *action) calls ActionManager::getInstance()->addAction(Action *action, this, false). So instead of using runAction you can also use ActionManager::addAction.

The main usage is the same as Cocos2dx so you can read up on actions from here and do the same with ofxActionManager.