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Graphics in a <canvas>

The <canvas> element has no appearance of its own but creates a drawing surface within the document and exposes a powerful drawing API to client-side JavaScript. The canvas element is standardized by HTML5 but has been around for longer than that. It was introduced by Apple in Safari 1.3, and it has been supported by Firefox since version 1.5 and Opera since version 9. It is also supported in all versions of Chrome. The <canvas> element is not supported by IE before IE9, but it can be reasonably well emulated in IE6, 7, and 8 using the open source ExplorerCanvas project at http://code.google.com/p/explorercanvas/.

An important difference between the <canvas> element and SVG is that with the canvas you create drawings by calling methods and with SVG you create drawings by building a tree of XML elements. These two approaches are equivalently powerful: either one can be simulated with the other. On the surface, they are quite different, however, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. An SVG drawing, for example, is easily edited by removing elements from its description. To remove an element from the same graphic in a <canvas>, it is often necessary to erase the drawing and redraw it from scratch. Since the Canvas drawing API is JavaScript-based and relatively compact (unlike the SVG grammar), it is documented completely in this book. See Canvas, CanvasRenderingContext2D, and related entries in the client-side reference section.

Most of the Canvas drawing ...

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