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HTML5: Graphics and Animation with Canvas
Illustration by John Hersey

Understanding the differences between Canvas and SVG


From:

HTML5: Graphics and Animation with Canvas

with Joe Marini

Video: Understanding the differences between Canvas and SVG

Let's take a look at how canvas compares to SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphics. SVG is another way of drawing content into web pages. It's similar to the canvas, but it works in a pretty different fashion. So let's compare the two. Canvas has elements that are drawn programmatically. In other words, your script code draws elements directly onto the canvas surface. In SVG, the elements are actually a part of the page's DOM, or Document Object Model.
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  1. 4m 54s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 3s
    3. Using the HTML5 Canvas element in the real world
      1m 48s
  2. 10m 31s
    1. Real-world example: CanvasMol
      2m 9s
    2. Real-world example: Raphaël-JavaScript Library
      1m 47s
    3. Real-world example: The Wilderness Downtown
      4m 1s
    4. Real-world example: Sketchpad
      1m 10s
    5. Real-world example: Pirates Love Daisies
      1m 24s
  3. 3m 28s
    1. Installing the tools
      1m 29s
    2. Exploring the Canvas examples used in this course
      1m 59s
  4. 8m 58s
    1. Introducing the Canvas tag
      6m 30s
    2. Understanding the differences between Canvas and SVG
      2m 28s
  5. 5m 36s
    1. Identifying the Canvas element's methods and properties
      1m 40s
    2. Using the Canvas drawing context
      3m 56s
  6. 43m 14s
    1. Setting and using colors and styles
      3m 19s
    2. Drawing basic shapes: Rectangles and lines
      10m 21s
    3. Understanding the Canvas state
      5m 15s
    4. Drawing complex shapes: Arcs and paths
      9m 15s
    5. Drawing complex shapes: Bézier and quadratic curves
      5m 46s
    6. Rendering text
      9m 18s
  7. 32m 35s
    1. Creating shadows
      6m 41s
    2. Drawing with patterns
      7m 20s
    3. Drawing with gradients
      6m 18s
    4. Using clipping paths
      4m 46s
    5. Drawing images and video
      7m 30s
  8. 35m 42s
    1. Transforming objects using the translate tag
      4m 18s
    2. Scaling objects with the scale transformation
      4m 7s
    3. Rotating objects with the rotate transformation
      4m 33s
    4. Applying a custom transformation
      6m 58s
    5. Compositing in Canvas using globalAlpha
      6m 36s
    6. Manipulating raw pixels
      9m 10s
  9. 41m 23s
    1. Building an image slideshow control
      4m 24s
    2. Using smooth transitions in a slideshow
      4m 28s
    3. Creating a basic animation
      5m 42s
    4. Creating animation with double buffering
      13m 13s
    5. Incorporating Canvas into a real page
      13m 36s
  10. 48s
    1. Goodbye
      48s

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HTML5: Graphics and Animation with Canvas
3h 7m Intermediate Jun 03, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

One of the most exciting additions that HTML5 offers to designers is the ability to draw free-form graphics on a drawing surface known as the Canvas. In this course, author Joe Marini introduces the technical concepts behind Canvas and shows how to perform drawing operations directly in a web page. The course covers drawing basic and complex shapes, setting colors and styles, adding shadows, patterns, and gradients, more advanced techniques such as scaling, rotating, and compositing objects, and how to incorporate Canvas elements in a slideshow and an animation.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the differences between Canvas and SVG Graphics
  • Drawing shapes
  • Drawing arcs and paths
  • Rendering text
  • Using clipping paths
  • Drawing images and video
  • Transforming objects with the translate tag
  • Manipulating raw pixels
  • Applying a custom transformation
  • Creating an animation or slideshow control with Canvas
Subjects:
Developer Web Animation Web Design Web Development
Software:
HTML
Author:
Joe Marini

Understanding the differences between Canvas and SVG

Let's take a look at how canvas compares to SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphics. SVG is another way of drawing content into web pages. It's similar to the canvas, but it works in a pretty different fashion. So let's compare the two. Canvas has elements that are drawn programmatically. In other words, your script code draws elements directly onto the canvas surface. In SVG, the elements are actually a part of the page's DOM, or Document Object Model.

In SVG, when you have a shape, say a rectangle or an arc or some kind of curve, that's actually a tag that is in the document. Your script can refer to it in the DOM. You can manipulate it. You can't do that in canvas. Once something is drawn to the canvas, the browser forgets all about it. It just puts the bits onto the canvas and then moves on to the next operation. In canvas, drawing is done with pixels, whereas in SVG drawing is all done with vectors. Vectors are lines that are determined by start points and end points and curves, and on the canvas that's how you do it.

You actually put pixels directly onto the canvas surface. Canvas does not have animations built into it, whereas SVG does. In the canvas, when you want to create animations, you have to do that using script and timing mechanisms, which we will see how to do later on in this course. In SVG, basic animations, such as moving objects around, all that stuff is built in. Canvas is pretty high performance for pixel-based drawing operations, whereas SVG is based on a standard XML syntax.

So where canvas gets a little bit better performance because it can take advantage directly of your computer's hardware accelerated GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, SVG uses XML which might be a little bit slower to process, but it provides better accessibility, because again, the elements of the drawing are part of the DOM. So this is a pretty complete basic look at how the two are different, but keep in mind they're not mutually exclusive. You can use canvas and SVG in the same web page.

And because you can position elements, you might even find a way to use the two of them together, have a canvas in the background and SVG on top. Now what you can't do is draw SVG into a canvas or vice versa, but just remember, they're not mutually exclusive. You can actually use both.

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