Abstract Sequential Stephanie Hobson's abstract thoughts in the sequence she has them.

CSS Loading Spinner

I needed a loading spinner for a side project the other day but I was too lazy to steal someone else’s off the internet or try to re-learn making an animated GIF so I just coded my own in CSS (CSS is my hammer).

On the bright side it works on any background colour and is a little transparent which is neat. And it’s way faster to adjust the colour scheme than an image file would be.

The basic idea

It’s one <div> containing 8 <span>s, styled to be little grey lozenges:

.spinner span{
display:block;
height:13px;
width:5px;
border-radius: 2px;
background-color:rgba(77, 77, 77,0.5);
...

In anticipation of rotating them I moved the transform-origin to the middle of the element and then a significant way down beneath it. Later, when I rotate the lozenges this spaces them further apart.

...
transform-origin:50% 160%;
...

They all have a simple animation applied to them that makes them fade in and out (it has a bit of an opacity on it just for fun):

...
animation-name: fade;
animation-duration: 1s;
animation-iteration-count: infinite;
animation-direction: alternate;
animation-fill-mode:backwards;
}

@keyframes fade {
0% {
background-color:rgba(77, 77, 77,0.8);
}
40% {
background-color:rgba(77, 77, 77,0.8);
}
100% {
background-color:rgba(255, 255, 255,0.8);
}
}

Using nth-of-type each lozenge is rotated 45degrees more than the last and has a delay of 250ms added to the animation on it. Unfortunately there is no easy way to do this program-magically so they have to be specified for each. Here is an example of the code for the second one:

.spinner span:nth-of-type(2){
transform: rotate(45deg);
animation-delay:-750ms;
}

Starting in the middle

Did you know that you can provide a negative value for animation-delay? Cool, eh?!?! This means I can make it appear that the animation is beginning in the middle, otherwise the first time it’s run it looks funny.

Placing the spinner

I added some absolute positioning to the <span>s, so the origin of the transform is at the top left of their parent <div>. This means the spinner fans out from the top left of the <div> and you can absolutely position it to exactly where you want the middle of the spinner. Handy if you want to place the spinner in the middle of something, like I did.

.spinner{
position:absolute;
top:50%;
left:50%;
}

.spinner span{
position:absolute;
top:-20px;
left:-3px;
...

Changing the colour

Changing the colour is as simple as creating a new animation and applying that to your special spinner spans.

.special .spinner span{
animation-name: specialfade;
}

Using it

Here’s the loading spinner with the moz and webkit prefixes. Of course, it only works in browsers that support animation and transforms but there’s more and more of those these days.

Also, yes, totally, please use it. Tweet me if you make any improvements.

A little bit more

I got a little carried away and made a few other styles.