Literally Canvas


Looking for a multiuser whiteboard, or want some help building a drawing-based web app? Check out Browserboard.

Literally Canvas is an extensible, open source (BSD-licensed), HTML5 drawing widget. Its only dependency is React.js. You can use it to embed drawing boards in web pages. It’s kind of like an extensible MS Paint in JavaScript. Users can sketch drawings and you can do what you like with the results. comes with an easy-to-use jQuery plugin.


Literally Canvas is not maintained. It uses outdated build tools and hasn’t been improved much in years. Many people still find it useful, but if you adopt it, expect to write your own bug fixes.

Literally Canvas’s major features include:

  • Basic drawing tools

  • An API to add more drawing tools

  • Panning and zooming

  • Constant-size or infinite canvases

  • Background images/shapes and watermarks

  • Retina support

  • Saving and loading JSON

  • Exporting drawings to PNG and SVG

  • Events

You can donate to Literally Canvas’s development on Gratipay or post a bounty on a GitHub issue on Bountysource. Spontaneous improvements are rare otherwise, though they do happen.


Our mailing list was down for several months. You’ll need to re-subscribe using one of the methods in the sidebar.


  • It’s open source. It’s developed by the community for many purposes and is free to use and extend.

  • It’s a widget, not an application. Literally Canvas is intended to live inside your application in the way that works best for you.

  • It wants to be extended. There is a public API for adding new shapes and tools.

  • It’s fast and looks good. Literally Canvas is optimized to work with complex drawings, and it smooths lines naturally to avoid the unsightly line angles often seen in simplistic drawing programs.

Browser compatibility




FastClick helps 1

Firefox 4+

IE 10+

Line dashes only supported in 11+







iOS delays click events so that it can detect gestures. To disable this behavior and get those events immediately, use FastClick.


We are excited to see contributions of any form. New brushes, optimizations, feature requests, use cases, designs, bug reports – you name it, we want it! Just head on over to GitHub and get started.

Literally Canvas is developed by volunteers for fun. If missing features or compatibility are serious issues for you, the solution to your problem might be to help us write the code.

Thanks to BrowserStack


BrowserStack has generously donated resources to ensure that Literally Canvas works in as many environments as possible. If you care about your app’s compatibility, you should check it out.