Top 5 JavaScript Whiteboard & Canvas Libraries

Updated May 30, 2024#javascript#libs#lists

Whiteboard and canvas libraries are two different types of tools that can be used for creating interactive and collaborative online drawings.

Whiteboard libraries are usually designed for simple and quick sketching, brainstorming, or teaching purposes. They often have features like text, shapes, colors, erasers, undo/redo, and sharing options.

Canvas libraries are more advanced and powerful, allowing you to draw graphics using JavaScript and the HTML <canvas> element. They can be used for animation, game graphics, data visualization, photo manipulation, and real-time video processing. They often have features like paths, gradients, patterns, transformations, filters, and events.

  1. Excalidraw (74.8k ⭐) β€” An open source project that allows you to create beautiful hand-drawn like diagrams, wireframes, or whatever you like. It supports features such as dark mode, image support, shape libraries, and localization.

  2. (39.1k ⭐) β€” It offers a rich set of features, including the ability to add text, images, and custom styling to diagrams. Users can also connect shapes with arrows and lines to create relationships between different elements.

  3. Tldraw (33.3k ⭐) β€” A collaborative digital whiteboard that lets you create hand-drawn like diagrams, wireframes, or whatever you like. It also allows you to customize tldraw or use its APIs for your own infinite canvas applications.

  4. Fabric.js (27.8k ⭐) β€” A powerful and flexible JavaScript library that provides an object-oriented approach to working with HTML5 canvas. It offers features for drawing shapes, adding text, handling events, and manipulating objects on the canvas, making it suitable for building whiteboard applications.

  5. Konva (10.9k ⭐) β€” A 2D drawing library that enables developers to create interactive graphics and animations. It offers a simple API for creating and managing shapes, handling user interactions, and managing layers, which can be utilized to implement whiteboard functionality.

Common features of online whiteboard tools

While online whiteboard tools have their own unique characteristics, they also share some common features. Here are some common features you may find in these diagramming tools:

  • Drawing Tools: All three tools provide a variety of drawing tools to create diagrams, including shapes, lines, arrows, text boxes, and freehand drawing.

  • Collaboration: Excalidraw, Tldraw, and offer collaboration features that allow multiple users to work on the same diagram simultaneously. This enables real-time collaboration and facilitates team collaboration and feedback.

  • Pre-designed Shapes and Icons: These tools provide libraries of pre-designed shapes, icons, symbols, and connectors that can be easily dragged and dropped onto the canvas. This helps users create diagrams quickly and efficiently.

  • Styling Options: Users can customize the appearance of their diagrams by adjusting colors, line styles, fonts, and other styling options available in these tools.

  • Export and Import: All three tools support exporting diagrams in various formats like PNG, SVG, PDF, or as a URL link. This allows users to share their diagrams with others or embed them in other documents or websites. Importing diagrams from other formats or tools may also be supported.

  • Cloud Storage Integration: These tools often integrate with popular cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. This allows users to save and sync their diagrams in the cloud, making them accessible from any device with an internet connection.

  • Undo/Redo and Version History: Users can easily undo or redo their actions while working on a diagram. Additionally, some tools may provide version history functionality, enabling users to revert to previous versions of their diagrams.

  • Responsive and Cross-Platform: Excalidraw, Tldraw, and are designed to work well on various devices and screen sizes, making them accessible on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.

It’s worth noting that each tool may have specific features and capabilities that differentiate them from one another. Therefore, it’s recommended to explore the documentation and try out these tools to get a better understanding of their unique offerings.

The HTML Canvas API

The HTML Canvas API is a powerful feature of HTML that allows developers to dynamically generate and manipulate graphics and animations within a web page. The canvas element serves as a drawing surface on which developers can render 2D graphics, including shapes, images, and text, using JavaScript.

The key components of the HTML5 canvas API include:

  • The <canvas> Element: This HTML element serves as the container for the canvas drawing area. It provides a blank space where graphics and animations can be rendered.

  • JavaScript API: The canvas API provides a set of JavaScript methods and properties that allow developers to interact with and manipulate the canvas element. This includes functions for drawing shapes, paths, images, and text, as well as methods for handling user interactions, animations, and transformations.

  • Drawing Context: The canvas API provides a drawing context, which is an object that represents the drawing state and provides methods for rendering and manipulating graphics. The most commonly used context is the 2D rendering context (getContext('2d')), which offers a variety of functions for drawing and styling.

  • Coordinate System: The canvas element has its own coordinate system, with (0,0) representing the top-left corner of the canvas. Developers can use this coordinate system to position and manipulate elements on the canvas.

With the HTML Canvas API, developers can create dynamic visualizations, interactive games, charts, data visualizations, and much more. It provides a powerful toolset for generating and animating graphics directly within a web browser without the need for third-party plugins or technologies.