In 2004, Apple developed a pixel-based drawing element named canvas for the Mac OS X dashboard that was later employed in the Safari Browser. The HTML5 specification has adopted this element and its associated set of APIs to provide basic drawing functionality. Before the
canvas element, browsers required a third-party plug-in to render these basic drawings. Since this is a pixel-based drawing mechanism rather than a vector and layer-based system, the underlying functionality is rudimentary; however, as you will learn in this chapter, it can still provide a means to provide rich displays.
At the heart of implementing the canvas are two components: the