Happy almost New Year!

Here’s a festive bit of code to celebrate the season (because with COVID, I doubt you’ve done much else to celebrate). I was shown a semi-realistic simulation of confetti paper and ribbons falling on codepen.io, by Hemn Chawroka. Seeing how it was released in January 2015, I figured I would try to bring it up to 2020 standards with – you guessed it – modern ES2017+, TypeScript, and React!

Finished result, an encapsulated react component than can be just “added” onto a webpage

So there were a couple things to sort out here to make the finished product:

  1. How to organize the code, and separate concerns
    • React is really good at choosing when to draw (render) the <canvas /> element.
    • But react doesn’t provide us many advantages when directly animating the canvas.
  2. Modernizing the code
    • Maybe one thing (and maybe the only thing) 2020 has been good for is bringing ES modules to the browser.
    • So taking the script from codepen, how do we break it up and modernize it
      • This has already been roughly done, as Hemn Chawroka had organized parts of it into JS classes

Separating Animation and Drawing

To borrow from Phil Nash’s blog post, my goal was to use react to manage the state of the view and then plain old javascript to manage the animation. I wanted to be able to simply drop a react component into a DOM tree, and have it just “run” without any tweaking:

// It needs to just work when dropped in to an app:
function App() {
  return (
    <div className="App">
      <div className="notification rounded">
        <ActiveBackground type={'confetti'} className={'rounded'} />
        // Other content here should render "on top of" the active background

The ActiveBackground Component

This is the main react component which composes it all together. It draws the canvas element where it should be placed in the DOM. Provides some styling to have it float behind its siblings (some other minor CSS required). It also makes use of a custom hook to use the non-standard ResizeObserver API to watch for parent element changes so that the canvas covers the parent element completely. I used the react useEffect hook to start and stop the animation (to prevent memory leaks):

React.useEffect(() => {
  if (!canvasRef) {
    // If for some reason the canvas element doesn't exist in the DOM

  let background: BackgroundType = null

  switch (type) {
    case 'confetti':
      background = new Confetti(canvasRef, {
        confettiPaperCount: 100,
        scaleConfettiCount: true,

      throw new Error(`unknown active background ${type}`)

  if (background) {

  return () => {
    if (background) {
}, [canvasRef, type, update])

So with that built it was then time to move on to porting over code from Hemn’s code.

Vectors, EulerMasses, Confetti Papers! Oh my!

So if there is one thing that I really like about (most) functional languages (elixir, etc.) is that they provide immutable data types. So mutability can’t creep in and cause a bug. Hemn’s solution makes use of a 2D vector class (called Vector2D for us), but I didn’t like that the operations were all mutable. So I adapted the class to always return a new Vector2D instance to make it easy to work with, as there is lots of math to make this work.

export class Vector2D {
  x: number
  y: number

  constructor(x: number, y: number) {
    this.x = x
    this.y = y

  // ... some static methods omitted for brevity

  clone() {
    return new Vector2D(this.x, this.y)

  get length() {
    return Math.sqrt(this.squareLength)

  get squareLength() {
    return this.x * this.x + this.y * this.y

  add(vector: Vector2D) {
    const clone = this.clone()
    clone.x += vector.x
    clone.y += vector.y

    return clone

  subtract(vector: Vector2D) {
    const clone = this.clone()
    clone.x -= vector.x
    clone.y -= vector.y

    return clone

  // ... other instance methods omitted for brevity

Pretty standard fare. With that, then we could create another class which we could then use to simulate Euler’s laws of motion with a EulerMass class:

export class EulerMass {
  position: Vector2D
  mass: number
  drag: number
  force: Vector2D
  velocity: Vector2D

  constructor(x: number, y: number, mass: number, drag: number) {
    // The instance starts at rest at the point {x, y}
    this.position = new Vector2D(x, y)
    this.mass = mass
    this.drag = drag
    this.force = new Vector2D(0, 0)
    this.velocity = new Vector2D(0, 0)

  addForce(v: Vector2D) {
    this.force = this.force.add(v)

  currentForce() {
    const speed = this.velocity.length
    const dragVelocity = this.velocity.multiply(this.drag * this.mass * speed)
    return this.force.subtract(dragVelocity)

  integrate(dt: number) {
    const acceleration = this.currentForce().divide(this.mass).multiply(dt)
    const deltaPosition = this.velocity.multiply(dt)
    this.position = this.position.add(deltaPosition)
    this.velocity = this.velocity.add(acceleration)
    this.force = new Vector2D(0, 0)

The integrate method is neat because it is just a programmatic way of expressing Force = Mass x Acceleration and Velocity = Distance / Time with some drag force applied. These two classes then are further composed into each of the two objects to be drawn to the canvas: the ConfettiPaper and the ConfettiRibbon.

Confetti Papers

The confetti papers are considerably simpler than the ribbon, since it is represented by a single point with some state, which then is drawn as a square.

class ConfettiPaper {
  // ... omitted TypeScript class property declaration for brevity

  constructor(config: ConfettiPaperConfig) {
    this.parent = config.parent
    this.scale = config.scale
    this.fetchColors = config.fetchColors

    this.position = new Vector2D(
      Math.random() * this.parent.width,
      Math.random() * this.parent.height

    this.cosRotation = 1.0
    this.angle = Math.random() * DEG_360_IN_RAD
    this.rotation = Math.random() * DEG_360_IN_RAD
    this.rotationSpeed =

    this.oscillationSpeed =

    this.xVelocity = X_VELOCITY
    this.yVelocity = Math.random() * Y_VELOCITY_VARIANCE + Y_VELOCITY_MINIMUM
    this.time = Math.random()

    this.corners = computeCorners(this.angle)

    const [frontColor, backColor] = this.fetchColors()
    this.frontColor = frontColor
    this.backColor = backColor
    this.size = 5.0
  //to be continued

So now we declare a ConfettiPaper instance, which keeps track of its location, angle, rotation, velocity, and oscillation (which is what makes it appear as though it is falling on a breeze). The cosRotation property is interesting in use because it keeps track of how it appears to the viewer – if its front of back is showing.

So how do we actually animate this object? Well, we aren’t guaranteed to trigger at fixed intervals in JavaScript, so we tween the state based on the dt [delta-time] (time since the last update). In some games, this is a really complex component of the rendering engine, because it can have a profound impact on how it is displayed to the user. Have you ever played old PC games that were limited by the number of CPU cycles? Since modern hardware is much faster, there have been lots of ways developed to write tweening functions to balance different priorities (e.g. input responsiveness vs display state).

For a confetti paper, we are just going to ignore the debate, because its paper! and we will just step the animation forward by however large the dt is for the update.

  // contd
  update(dt: number) {
    this.time += dt
    this.rotation += this.rotationSpeed * dt
    this.cosRotation = Math.cos((this.rotation * Math.PI) / 180)

    this.position.x +=
      Math.cos(this.time * this.oscillationSpeed) * this.xVelocity * dt
    this.position.y += this.yVelocity * dt

    // Reset paper to the top of the screen if the paper goes off the screen
    if (this.position.y > this.parent.height) {
      this.position.x = Math.random() * this.parent.width
      this.position.y = 0
  // to be continued

To then draw the paper, we receive the context from the the context controller (the upcoming Confetti class) which we can then use to write imperative statements to draw our shape to the screen.

  draw(context: CanvasRenderingContext2D) {
    // If you recall, cos ranges from -1 to 1, so half the time, show the front, half the time show the back
    if (this.cosRotation > 0) {
      context.fillStyle = this.frontColor
    } else {
      context.fillStyle = this.backColor

    const [firstCorner, ...remainingCorners] = this.computeCornerDrawPositions()
    // start the shape with the first point
    context.moveTo(firstCorner.x, firstCorner.y)
    // make three more points, connecting the points with lines
    remainingCorners.forEach(({ x, y }) => context.lineTo(x, y))
    // finish the shape with a closing line

Buckle up for Confetti Ribbons

Now if you thought creating, updating, and drawing confetti papers was complex. 💀 Sorry! Confetti ribbons are much more complex! 🤯 So I’ll try to boil it down (but there are still some parts which are a bit beyond me).

Not sure if this is making sense or if this just seems like it is making sense

So the ribbon is stored as an array (or list) of points, which represent a sort of “spine” of the ribbon. So when the ribbon moves, we move the first point, then update every following point based on the change resulting in what appears to be connected matter.

export class ConfettiRibbon {

  // Blah blah blah class property declarations

    // yadda yadda yadda, arguments to initialize the class
  }: ConfettiRibbonConfig) {
    // initializing class properties and so forth

  update(dt: number) {
    this.time += dt * this.oscillationSpeed
    this.currPosition.x += Math.cos(this.time) * this.oscillationDistance * dt
    this.currPosition.y += this.yVelocity * dt

    const dx = this.prevPosition.x - this.currPosition.x
    const dy = this.prevPosition.y - this.currPosition.y
    const dDistance = Math.sqrt(dx * dx + dy * dy)

    this.prevPosition = this.currPosition.clone()

    // Update each particle's force based on the particle before it
    this.particles[0].position = this.currPosition
    for (let index = 1; index < this.particles.length; index += 1) {
      const directionForce = Vector2D.sub(
        this.particles[index - 1].position,
        .multiply((dDistance / dt) * this.velocityInherit)


    // integrate the forces, to find the new position
    for (let index = 1; index < this.particles.length; index += 1) {

    // calculate final position
    for (let index = 1; index < this.particles.length; index += 1) {
      const rp2 = this.particles[index].position
        .subtract(this.particles[index - 1].position)
        .add(this.particles[index - 1].position)
      this.particles[index].position = rp2

    // if the ribbon has completely left the viewport, reset it
    if (
      this.currPosition.y >
      this.parent.height + this.particleDistance * this.particleCount
    ) {

Similarly for the ConfettiPaper the draw function steps through all of the points [particles], and draws issues imperative draw commands to the context to draw that segment.

  draw(context: CanvasRenderingContext2D) {
    for (let index = 0; index < this.particles.length - 1; index += 1) {
      const particle = this.particles[index]
      const nextParticle = this.particles[index + 1]

      const offsetVector = new Vector2D(this.xOff, this.yOff)
      const p0 = particle.position.add(offsetVector)
      const p1 = nextParticle.position.add(offsetVector)

      if (sideFacing(particle, nextParticle, p1) < 0) {
        context.fillStyle = this.frontColor
        context.strokeStyle = this.frontColor
      } else {
        context.fillStyle = this.backColor
        context.strokeStyle = this.backColor

      if (index === 0) {
        this.drawFirstParticle(context, particle, nextParticle, p0, p1)
      } else if (index === this.particles.length - 2) {
        this.drawMiddleParticle(context, particle, nextParticle, p0, p1)
      } else {
        this.drawLastParticle(context, particle, nextParticle, p0, p1)

Putting it all together

The Confetti class acts as the controller for this machination. When it is created it, creates all of the ConfettiPaper and ConfettiRibbon instances required for the animation. It doesn’t immediately start though, it only starts when the start method is called. This sets in motion a function call to the render method using the requestAnimationFrame API which then the render function calls itself using requestAnimationFrame and itself as the callback function. Like setTimeout, requestAnimationFrame returns an identifier, so it can be cancelled by the stop method.

class Confetti {
  // Class property declarations...

  animationFrameRequestId: number | null

  constructor(canvas: HTMLCanvasElement, options: ConfettiOptions = {}) {
    this.canvas = canvas
    this.context = canvas.getContext('2d')

    this.speed = options?.speed ?? SPEED
    this.duration = options?.duration ?? 1.0 / this.speed

    this.ratio = window.devicePixelRatio
    this.width = canvas.offsetWidth * this.ratio
    this.height = canvas.offsetHeight * this.ratio

    let confettiPaperCount =
      options?.confettiPaperCount ?? DEFAULT_CONFETTI_PAPERS

    if (options?.scaleConfettiCount) {
      confettiPaperCount = Math.round(confettiPaperCount / this.ratio)

    this.confettiPapers = [...new Array(confettiPaperCount)].map(() => {
      return new ConfettiPaper({
        parent: this,
        scale: this.ratio,
        fetchColors: fetchRandomColor,

    let confettiRibbonCount =
      options?.confettiRibbonCount ?? DEFAULT_CONFETTI_RIBBONS

    this.confettiRibbons = [...new Array(confettiRibbonCount)].map(() => {
      return new ConfettiRibbon({
        parent: this,
        scale: this.ratio,
        fetchColors: fetchRandomColor,

    this.animationFrameRequestId = null

This is the meat and potatoes of the class, which can then be controlled externally by the react component when it is time to play the animation.

  start() {
    this.animationFrameRequestId = requestAnimationFrame(this.render.bind(this))

  stop() {
    if (this.animationFrameRequestId) {

  render() {
    if (!this.context) {

    this.context.clearRect(0, 0, this.canvas.width, this.canvas.height)

    for (const confettiPaper of this.confettiPapers) {

    for (const confettiRibbon of this.confettiRibbons) {

    this.animationFrameRequestId = requestAnimationFrame(this.render.bind(this))

So there you have it! A modern interpretation of a codepen classic! Please feel free to work through my GitHub repo to look through the code at your own pace. If there is something to iterate on, or you have a question, drop me a line! It would be great to discuss!

Happy holidays!



Edit Jan 1, 2021: Changed link from Dzone to Phil Nash’s personal blog