Canvas API: Introduction & Basic Usage

The canvas API allows you to draw graphics using Javascript & the HTML <canvas> element. It can do a ton and can be used for animation, game graphics, data visualization, photo manipulation, and real time video processing. We mentioned it earlier in our MediaDevices API post so you might remember it some. Swipe through to see some simple examples of it’s usage. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

<canvas id="simple-canvas"></canvas>

const canvas = document.getElementById('simple-canvas');
const ctx = canvas.getContext('2d');

ctx.fillStyle = 'blue';
ctx.fillRect(10, 10, 150, 200);

Will show this:

Let’s make a pie chart. Note, this example is copied from HTML Canvas Deep Dive by Josh Marinacci

<canvas id="pie-canvas"></canvas>

//initialize data set
let data = [ 100, 68, 20, 30, 100 ];

const pieCanvas = document.getElementById('pie-canvas');
let c = pieCanvas.getContext('2d');
//draw background
c.fillStyle = "white";

//a list of colors
let colors = [ "orange", "green", "blue", "yellow", "teal"];

//calculate total of all data
let total = 0;
for(let i=0; i < data.length; i++) {
    total += data[i];

//draw pie data
let prevAngle = 0;
for(let i = 0; i < data.length; i++) {
    //fraction that this pieslice represents
    let fraction = data[i]/total;
    //calc starting angle
    let angle = prevAngle + fraction * Math.PI*2;

    //draw the pie slice
    c.fillStyle = colors[i];

    //create a path
    c.arc(250,250, 100, prevAngle, angle, false);

    //fill it

    //stroke it
    c.strokeStyle = "black";

    //update for next time through the loop
    prevAngle = angle;

//draw centered text
c.fillStyle = "black";
c.font = "24pt sans-serif";
let text = "Sales Data from 2025";
let metrics = c.measureText(text);
c.fillText(text, 250-metrics.width/2, 400);

Will show this:

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