This site has excellent resizing (and drifting) animations. http://www.tomtom.com/livetraffic
Anybody know how the zoom effect is achieved? OpenLayers has an ancient sandbox with animated zooming, but it was never integrated.
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You can use the transition effect property on your layer.
Set the property to
From what I know, it's not possible to animate Zoom actions. For information , you can use the kinetic effect on dragging map : http://openlayers.org/dev/examples/kinetic.html