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17 Jun 2005

by Noel

The Canvas: Why It’s Important

In Safari 1.3 Apple introduced a new canvas tag along with Javascript extensions that enable 2D vector graphics to be drawn directly onto a web page. This extension has since been incorporated in aWhatWG specification and Mozilla have followed up with an implementation that’s available in the latest Firefox 1.1 preview release. We have two demos up here and here. This essentially enables a lot of the power of Flash from within a normal web page.

Apple’s motivation to was to enable Dashboard, but as we discussedearlier the potential for this technology extends much further. Existing web technologies such as CSS, the DOM, and Javascript allow highly interactive applications, as GMail and Google Maps have shown. However there are still some limitations: the developer cannot create custom widgets or draw complex graphics in the web-browser. The canvas solves this problem. Now that Firefox is implementing the canvas it makes it viable to release cross-platform graphic rich applications. This is a whole class of applications that so far the web hasn’t been able to touch. Think about Adobe Illustrator running within your web browser. This is one to watch!

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