Matter.js supports all major browsers including IE8+. Additionally, it is suitable for use on mobile devices as it can detect touch and has responsiveness. All these features make it worth investing your time to learn how to use the engine as you will then be able to create physics-based 2D games or simulations easily. In this tutorial, I will cover the basics of this library, including its installation and usage, and I’ll provide a working example.

You can install Matter.js by using package managers like NPM with the help of the following commands:

Matter.js frequently releases updates which might require you to make slight modifications to your code to make it work. The examples in this tutorial are based on the version 0.18.0.

The best way to learn about Matter.js is to see some actual code and understand how it works. In this section, we will create a few bodies and go through the required code line by line.

We begin by creating aliases for all the Matter.js modules that we might need in our project.

The Matter.Engine module contains methods for creating and manipulating engines. Engines are required in a project to update the simulation of the world.

The Matter.Render module is a basic HTML5 canvas-based renderer. This module is required to visualize different engines. The computations done by the engine for different bodies in a simulation are shown visually to users with the help of this module. For example, the engine module might compute where an object is supposed to be and the render module will draw it there.

The Matter.Runner module gives you access to a game loop in order to continuously update the engine and your world.

The Matter.Bodies module allows you to create rigid body objects. Another similar module called Matter.Body allows you to manipulate individual bodies.

The last module we load is the Matter.Composite module that allows you to create a collection of bodies, constraints or other composite objects. A composite can consists of a single body or the whole simulation.

The next line uses the create([settings]) method of the Matter.Engine module to create a new engine. Similarly, we also create a new runner and a new renderer. The settings parameter in the above method is actually an object with key-value pairs to override the default values of a few properties related to the engine. We have kept everything at default value for our example.

For example, you can control the global scaling factor of time for all the bodies in the world. Setting a value less than 1 will result in the world interacting in slow motion. Similarly, a value greater than 1 will make the world fast-paced. You will learn more about the Matter.Engine module in the next tutorial of the series.

After that, we use the create([settings]) method of the Matter.Render module to create a new renderer. Just like the Engine module, the settings parameter in the above method is an object used to specify different options for the parameter. You can use the element key to specify the element where the library should insert the canvas. Similarly, you can also use the canvas key to specify the canvas element where the Matter.js world should be rendered.

There is an engine key that you can use to specify the engine that should be used to render the world. There is also an options key that actually accepts an object as its value. You can use this key to set values for different parameters like the width or height of the canvas. You can also turn the wireframes on or off by setting the value of wireframe key to true or false respectively. We have also made the canvas for our world white in color by setting the value of background to white.

The next few lines create different bodies that will interact in our world. The bodies are created with the help of the Matter.Bodies module in Matter.js. In this example, we have just created two circles and a rectangle using the circle() and rectangle() method. Other methods are available as well to create different polygons.

Once we have created the bodies, we need to add them to a world of our choice using the add() method from the Matter.Composite module. After adding the necessary bodies to our world, we just need to run the runner and the renderer using the run() method from the respective modules. That is basically all the code you need to create and render a world in Matter.js.

The code at the beginning of this section creates the following result.

There are more than 20 different modules in Matter.js. All these modules provide different methods and properties that are useful for creating different kinds of simulations and allow you to interact with them. Some of these modules handle collisions, while others handle rendering and simulation.

The example in the previous section used four different modules to handle the rendering, simulation and creation of bodies. In this section, you will learn about the roles of some common modules available in Matter.js.

This tutorial was meant to introduce you to the Matter.js library. Keeping that in mind, I have provided a quick overview of the features and installation of the library. The basic example involving two circles and a box shows how easy it is to create simple simulations using the library.

Since Matter.js has a lot of modules each of which adds its own unique methods to the engine, I have written a brief summary of few common modules. The rest of the series will focus on teaching you about these common modules in more detail.