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HTML5 - Canvas vs SVG

SVG has gained a lot of popularity in the recent years, but that doesn’t suggest that Canvas has been discarded. Both these tools are common standard HTML-based technologies that  can be used to create amazing aesthetic experiences and graphics. Let us analyze them in detail to find out the right tool that will suit your HTML5 web design company.

Canvas vs SVG – An Introduction

Canvas by HTML5 helps in rendering graphs, game graphics, art, or any other visual images and also allow you to create and manipulate  images, pixel by pixel using a JavaScript programmable interface. 

SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics is a language to describe two-dimensional graphics. The drawings created by SVG are interactive and dynamic. On the contrary to the images created by HTML5 Canvas, SVG allows you to increase and decrease the image, without affecting its crispness and quality. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Canvas


1. Good Rendering Support

Canvas offers you an excellent rendering support that makes it ideal for developing fast action games. The support extends to the hundreds of elements on the screen and for the high-performance 2D surface.

2. Better Interactions

The HTML5 Canvas ensures better interactions, enabling the user to operate with ease with the content. It offers more interactive and animated possibilities than previous internet  application platforms like the Flash. This is one main reason for many html5 web design companies to churn out successful web applications all the time.  

3. User-Friendly Game Development Process

If you're familiar with developing Flash games, using HTML5 Canvas will be a dream. It allows you to build multiple fun and interactive games.


1. Scalability Issues

Creating high fidelity complex graphics like building and engineering diagrams, organizational charts, biological diagrams, etc., is not possible using the Canvas as it loses its quality when it's scaled.  

3. No  Accessibility

Since what you actually draw on the Canvas surface is just a group of pixels, it cannot be read or interpreted by assisting technologies or search engine bots.

4. Extremely Dependable on JavaScript

This is a major setback while using the Canvas as the only way the <canvas> element can work is with the JavaScript. 

See Also : HTML5 vs HTML6 - Advanced Features in HTML6 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Using SVG


1. Excellent Scalability

This is a huge benefit of using SVG, especially in the digital era, where high-resolution tablets, phones, and monitors are used by almost everyone. The scalable features come as a bonus for responsive designs too, that comes in handy during multiple web application developments.

2. Defined by XML Format

Unlike the bitmap image formats, SVG does not consist of a fixed set of dots, but of shapes and their attributes. This makes sure the image can be saved as the smallest size possible. No matter how large the graphic gets, the XML that describes the graphic is the only thing transmitted to the client.

3. Easy to Create and Edit

Multiple user-friendly tools such as Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, Corel Draw, etc., are available to create SVG graphics. Free tools such as Inkscape, OpenOffice, LibreOffice Draw and SVG-edit (online tool) can also be used. They are easy to edit, giving SVG graphics, a huge advantage over rasterized graphics. A text editor or any vector graphic editing tool is enough to edit the SVG graphics. 

4. Intricate Detailing

Detailed graphics are possible in SVG as it uses lines. The illustrations look sharper, clearer and a lot easier to understand. Vector graphics look sharper and better in printouts too. 


1. Complexity in Development

One of the major disadvantages of using SVG is the complexity that is involved in the development process. The code, which is structured in XML can be quite lengthy and complex. This makes it difficult to troubleshoot for errors.

2. Less Information

The complexity surrounding the development of SVG directly impacts on the amount of reliable information available on the subject. Unlike HTML or XML, which has a lot of educational information, SVG has very little information.

3. Limitations in Authoring Tools

Although a text editor is enough to create an SVG file, it's not a viable option for many developers and designers. Authoring tools available for SVG are comparatively less to the tools available to develop alternative image formats. These tools also provide diverse options for developers to experiment with.

Final Words

Canvas can be used for game development, ray tracing, drawing a distinct number of objects on a small surface, replacement of pixels in the video, etc. While the SVG can be used to create graphs, road maps, complex UI elements, Logos, responsive ads, etc. 

By now it's clear that a direct answer to the question, “what is the right tool?” can't be answered. It all comes down to the developers skill set and predispositions. Try and understand all your options before committing to any one technology. Choose the one that not only fits perfectly for the task at hand but your own level of comfort as well.

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