Delving Deeper into the Beauty of HTML 5 Canvas

The web development landscape is evolving constantly. Thanks to the introduction of new technologies such as HTML5. For those of you who do not know what HTML5 exactly is, it is the latest version of the hypertext mark-up language, which is mainly used in web design & development by designers across the planet. With each passing day, more number of designers seem to be joining the HTML5 bandwagon since the technology promises to take web design to a whole new level! HTML5 brings with itself an entire new range of exciting elements including the canvas that allow developers to add awesome touch & dynamic capabilities to their web applications. This article provides you with an in-depth idea about HTML5 Canvas. So, let’s get going…

Before we start exploring this major element of HTML5, let’s know a bit about its history as well. HTML5 Canvas was pioneered by the tech giant Apple somewhere around 2004 for the use in Mac operating system. It was meant to power their Safari web browser and dashboard applications too. Ever since then, the canvas has been adopted by Opera, Mozilla and finally W3C for its use in HTML5. Today, all the modern web browsers support this HTML5 element completely.

Image source: HTML 5 by Shutterstock

What is HTML5 Canvas all about?
An important part of HTML5, the canvas is a new HTML tag <canvas> that helps developers in bitmap drawing using the power of JavaScript. In nutshell, this element facilitates the drawing of graphics, art, graphs and various other visuals on the web page in real time and that too in the user’s browser! To take the advantage of HTML5 Canvas, one needs to be proficient in HTML, JavaScript as well as CSS. Based on the ‘fire and forget’ methodology, Canvas element helps developers draw interactive elements such as animated web charts in a faster and easier manner.

Perhaps, the biggest reason for the increase in use of HTML5 canvas is that it does away with the need to have an embedded application such as Flash to build animations, stunning audio/video effects, gaming apps and lot more. With the help of HTML5 Canvas, you can easily transform a simple-looking web page into a dynamic application. Further, you can even optimize the application for various hand-held devices as well.
Now comes the most baffling question – Why Canvas, if there is Flash? Well, here’s your answer –
1. As mentioned earlier, the HTML5 Canvas element supports all major web browsers. If the users want to use Flash, they need to have a plugin installed in their browser. Initially, all the browsers had plug-ins installed by default. But that is a thing of past now! Most of the users get rid of such plug-ins because of various reasons.
2. Another reason to use HTML5 Canvas is that it is embedded into HTML, meaning, it is an integral part of DOM (document object model) whereas Flash is an external embedded file. Flash cannot interact directly with the HTML elements.

As a professional web developer, you must always take into account your audience while using HTML5 Canvas. Why? Well, if you target audience uses a browser such as the Internet Explorer 6,7 or 8 along with Windows XP, your hard work goes unnoticed! On the other hand, if you are about to build a hybrid application that can be viewed both on desktop and hand-held devices such as tablets & smart phones, HTML5 Canvas can be the best bet!
What makes the HTML5 Canvas so popular?

  • This element makes it easier for developers to include awesome interactiveness to a web page. With HTML5 Canvas, you have better control over images, text and graphics. With it, you can turn photos, images, charts, graphs etc into animated elements to drive your website visitors completely crazy!
  • When it comes to hardware acceleration, HTML5 Canvas can turn out to be really helpful in offering your users the best-ever experience! Once you send drawing commands to the canvas, the browser then sends these directly to the graphics hardware without anything required from your side. The hardware acceleration works unbelievably as fast as lightening to produce striking animations and highly engaging graphics. And, the user experience is not slowed either!
  • With HTML5 Canvas by your side, you can even work with videos and images in a seamless manner. What’s more, developers’ can also combine transformations and animations to deliver an astounding web application that simply keeps the users spellbound.

Taking a look at some of the new HTML5 Canvas Features
HTML5 Canvas, recently, got updated and the new features are nothing less than simply amazing. Let’s get a quick glance at some of these –

  • The inclusion of path primitive is a welcome change. It allows one to create a path object, define a path and next render the path to the Canvas. What this implies is that you can now have various paths rather than having a single path. Developers can even implement SVG transformation to paths.
  • Another major update is that developers can now define ‘hit regions’. One can mention an arbitrary area for responding to user events. All you need to do is define a path and then add a HitRegion before you close it.
  • Automatic cursor control helps you to associate a cursor type to a hit region. What does this mean? Well, it means as soon as the mouse is moved into that specific region, the cursor changes automatically.
  • The latest update also helps you include an Ellipse drawing command. However, you cannot create an ellipse directly. Most importantly, you need to deal with lots of complex geometry with Bezier curve.

HTML5 Canvas, irrefutably, is a powerful way to reflect your creativity and imagination in the most wonderful manner. It definitely offers developers countless opportunities to turn their out-of-the-box ideas into dynamic, engaging & interactive web applications.
Author Bio:
Barton Griffiths is a leading expert in a web design & web development field. He has always believed that, Custom web application development should provide complete web development solutions to globe clients. He has impressive and in-depth knowledge about the latest technologies in web development such as HTML5 Development, SugarCRM Development etc & web design services as well. Barton Griffiths on Google+.

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  • Stacy
    April 5, 2013

    thanks for sharing!

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