Literally Canvas

Literally Canvas is an extensible, open source (BSD-licensed), HTML5 drawing widget. Its only dependency is React.js.

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
  • Events
  • Exporting drawings to PNG

If you would like to support Literally Canvas’s development or provide extra incentive to implement your favorite feature request, consider donating at


If you look at Related projects at the bottom of the page, you can see that this isn’t the only HTML5 drawing tool on the block. However, it is unique in several ways:

  • 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.

Literally Canvas was created in part to replace the object drawing tool in Buildy. We hope you’re inspired to use it to make new things of your own!

Browser compatibility

Chrome Awesome
Safari Awesome
iOS Awesome (FastClick helps [1])
Firefox 4+
Opera ??
Android ??
IE 10+ (Requires polyfill [2])


[1]iOS delays click events so that it can detect gestures. To disable this behavior and get those events immediately, use FastClick.
[2]IE doesn’t support the CustomEvent constructor. Use Mozilla’s polyfill to get Literally Canvas to run in IE.


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, consider that 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.

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Download v0.4.2

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