Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Microsoft to help move Canvas 2D API out of HTML5 spec?

Category: Canvas, Microsoft

Eliot Graff of Microsoft wrote to

In his mail describing why he created a separate Canvas 2D API specification, Doug Schepers wrote [1]:

> There is a chance that currently Canvas could be a blocker on progress
> for the HTML5 spec, and at this point, Canvas is so widely implemented
> that I don’t think it’s at risk, so I hope this isn’t disruptive. I am
> available to help with any editing that needs doing, but I hope that
> others will also work with this draft, and step into the editor role.

At Microsoft, we agree with the sentiments expressed by Doug, Maciej [2], and others about creating a separate Canvas 2D API specification. [3] We are prepared to offer editorial resources to aid in the completion of this separate specification. We have looked over Doug’s initial document, made some editorial enhancements, and are prepared to follow through in taking feedback and maintaining the specification.

We believe that some sort of accessibility API functionality is needed in the canvas element. However, the exact nature and depth of that functionality presents a dilemma that may block progress on the HTML5 spec. We also think that the Canvas 2D API may be a desirable feature used in other technologies such as SVG.

Starting with Doug Schepers’ initial draft, we made changes to get the document to adhere to the W3C PubRules [4], enhance readability, and improve logical flow of the document. In addition, we foresee adding sample code throughout the specification, where appropriate. No normative changes have been made. As with all drafts, the Canvas 2D API specification is still a work in progress. We would like to solicit feedback about the changes that were made (see below TODO) and about further changes that the working group would like to see.

Our updated version is published at


Appreciate the help from Microsoft, but the snark in me wants to say:

How about giving “resources” to implement the bugger in IE!!!!!!

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:32 am

2.9 rating from 47 votes


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How magnanimous of them. :)

Comment by cromwellian — October 22, 2009

I’m assuming this means canvas will be an IE9 feature. Anyone know what sort of release date we’re speaking about there?

Ofcourse, we still also need SVG, but since they’re talking about SVG in relation to canvas (in combination with), maybe they’re going to finally implement SVG support as well?

*dreams out loud*

Comment by Joeri — October 22, 2009

Hmmm… Microsoft have not done ANYTHING ever but worked against standards in webdesign. Don’t let them in. If they have some ideas, they are probably only good for MS and their products.

Oh, I forgot that they invented the XMLHTTP-request, but that’s about the only good thing they did… :)

Comment by johanandre — October 22, 2009

I have a really hard time thinking they have anything but Internet-clueless idiots over at MicroSoft, just because Internet Explorer is such a broken mess. That’s how bad it is.

Comment by richtaur — October 22, 2009

Microsoft has its good days, and its bad days. Like a split personality where one is evil and the other is, well, not.

About feature implementation – I wonder how much resources it takes for Microsoft to implement a feature as opposed to other browser vendors. Gecko and Webkit are younger engines, they have much less cruft – basically they start out fresh where IE has to drag along a lot of old-corporate-web-app weight. I wouldn’t be surprised if took even 2, 3, 4 times more resources than Google or Mozilla. And when you’re so handicapped against Google, chances are you’re gonna be left in the dust.

Comment by jx12345 — October 22, 2009

Am I the only one thinking that the reason they want to move Canvas 2D out of the HTML5 spec is so that they can claim to support HTML5 fully, while not having to bother supporting Canvas 2D?

Development of IE9 begins.
Canvas moved out of a maturing HTML5 spec.
HTML5 spec complete without Canvas.
IE9 feature locked.
Canvas spec complete.

Comment by sixtyseconds — October 22, 2009

Microsoft wouldn’t work on a spec like this if they weren’t in the middle of implementing the spec.

Which means – not only are Microsoft implementing Canvas, they are implementing SVG! And they are integrating them tightly together as part of the rendering engine, not as a pseudo plug-in, VML-style.

Comment by RichB — October 22, 2009

IE8 isn’t all bad. It’s CSS2 support is good. It has a fast rendering engine for HTML / CSS. Ofcourse, the javascript engine is a disaster, and there’s no CSS3 support. So, all-in-all a mixed bag.

The big question for me is what IE9 will contain. If they’re not going for a decent javascript engine and canvas support at the least, I’m basically giving up on IE ever being a modern browser.

Comment by Joeri — October 22, 2009

I can’t figure out what you’d do to make canvas accessible. SVG is reasonable because you’ve got a retained scene graph, but canvas… Maybe some sort of alt text?

Comment by grayrest — October 22, 2009

Whether canvas is part of html5 or its own spec, until it is published as a final specification, the patent is still Apple’s. I seriously doubt that MS will touch canvas until it is part of a published final specification when the patent becomes fully owned by the w3c.

Comment by ozonecreations — October 22, 2009

I imagine the intention is to wrestle at least some of the HTML 5 spec out of Ian Hickson (and thus Google)’s megalomaniacal grip. Of course, whether it’s better off in Microsoft’s megalomaniacal grip is up for debate :-)

Comment by Amtiskaw — October 22, 2009

IE has been around for a long time and always created it’s own standards. In the beginning that did not bother anyone because we did’nt have alot to compare with.

Today, when theres Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera there is no need for IE. Why do they even continue to develop it? It’s pretty obvious that they have no clue when it comes to dealing with web browsers.

Of course IE8 is not all bad if you compare to a browser released in 2005. Poor javascript-engine and poor CSS support (not even implements css2 correctly).

Is it so important to ship your own browser with your OS?
I know, Apple does the same thing, but they got a good browser based on a good engine (which constantly implements new features).

So, Microsoft, step down and kill IE. If you guys don’t do it, people will, it just takes a little bit longer.

Comment by johanandre — October 22, 2009

I’m an artist/developer so a good deal of code I write is deals with graphics. I also happen to be disabled so the ‘accessibility’ issue caught my eye. I also have experience with Mac/iPhone and Java programming and am familiar with others here and there and I have NEVER run across any way to make a drawing surface compliant for accessibility. This is just a tactic to stall HTML 5 because…..well……its MS.

Comment by d4rkl1gh7 — October 22, 2009

My gut is telling me to agree with @sixtyseconds. Is this part of a long term strategy to further Silverlight adoption?

Comment by zachleat — October 22, 2009

Am I the only one thinking that the reason they want to move Canvas 2D out of the HTML5 spec is so that they can claim to support HTML5 fully, while not having to bother supporting Canvas 2D?

Development of IE9 begins.
Canvas moved out of a maturing HTML5 spec.
HTML5 spec complete without Canvas.
IE9 feature locked.
Canvas spec complete.

This is exactly what I came here to post. I think until Microsoft proves that they are indeed working on implementing canvas into their products, they shouldn’t have a say in it’s details. It seems like a ploy to “fully support html5” while still being able to push silverlight over canvas/svg. While maybe they are doing this for the good of the web, I won’t believe it until I see more proof.

Comment by tj111 — October 22, 2009

Actually, am I the only optimist here, assuming Microsoft cut catapult their browser back into the game with ie9? A standards-compatible browser? *dream*. I think its MS major (and only? – others are thin!) chance to get back into the game and fill the gap they’ll opened up themself.
Even though I still believe there are strategies ms follows on their own, so my concerns are the same as @sixtyseconds.
If MS fails with IE9, I stick to @Joeri “giving up on IE ever being a modern browser”.

Comment by gossi — October 22, 2009

I thought the point of the Canvas spec was a developer who had never touched a computer before in his life could implement it in a day in VB.

What exactly is Microsoft’s excuse for not having done it yet? The skeptic in me agrees with the other conspiracy theory posts – MS wants it out of HTML 5 and will never implement it as it competes with Silverlight.

As for SVG, MS should just license / acquire Abbra and be done with it – and have the most complete SVG implementation of any browser, by far. They could have SVG in IE today if they were motivated.

Comment by JonathanLeech — October 22, 2009

Here’s a thought. Microsoft wants to be HTML 5 compliant in IE 9 (or 8.5) but isn’t going to be able (or maybe want) to get implemented, so….let’s move it out of the spec and problem solved. HTML 5 compatibility as that isn’t part of the main spec anymore. Not liking to be cynical but that is just as likely a reason as any. Rather it be they are really getting behind that would be a wonderful change.

Comment by ThomasAPowell — October 22, 2009

@JonathanLeech – while I really respect Alex and think Abbra is kick-ass, it’s not the most standards-compliant implementation of SVG in a browser. It does not support all of the SVG DOM 1.1 for one thing (Alex has stated he is targeting SVGT 1.2 and has a hybrid between the two DOMs).

I’m pretty certain that Microsoft has their own kickass implementation of SVG they’re getting ready – and today makes me think they have a Canvas implementation too.

Comment by codedread — October 22, 2009

@sixtyseconds hit the nail on the head. More M$ marketrolling to weaken the HTML5 position.

Comment by rdza — October 22, 2009

With all my distrust to Microsoft, I should admit that Canvas not belong to HTML 5 and deserves its own spec.

Comment by DmitryBaranovskiy — October 22, 2009

“With all my distrust to Microsoft, I should admit that Canvas not belong to HTML 5 and deserves its own spec.”

Agreed to an extent. It is perfectly well applicable to non Browser JS applications as well. Though I’m rather suspicious of this move, and would prefer canvas to stay in html5 if it means that it gets implemented in IE.

Comment by Breton — October 22, 2009

Okay, having actually read the mailing list posts, I’ve got this all wrong, and so have a few others. It is not microsoft that has proposed to move the canvas api out of html5. They are simply concurring with others (including Maciej Stochowak, an apple representative- remember apple originated the canvas tag) And offering editorial help. That act in itself may be suspicious, but it’s still incorrect to believe that microsoft originated the idea.

Comment by Breton — October 22, 2009

@sixtyseconds is dead on. This is so that Microsoft (which is NEVER going to support Canvas while Apple (I think) holds the patent) can claim to be “HTML5-compliant” in their next release.

Comment by mdmadph — October 23, 2009

It’s obvious. They don’t want it in the HTML5 spec because then they can’t claim support for HTML5 – if they take it out they can. They will never implement canvas. They are hostile to the technology, and this is an attack.

Comment by CaptainN — October 23, 2009

Wow, when did Ajaxian become Slashdot?

Comment by codedread — October 23, 2009

Since Apple helped create Canvas, we most do everything we can to stop it! That is probably the mentality they have over at Microsoft.

Comment by jhuni — October 25, 2009

Yes, yes IE sucks, Microsoft sucks. Safari rocks, Apple rocks, Google rocks, PHP rocks, .NET sucks…
It’s getting really boring hearing this stuff all the time.

Comment by granata — October 26, 2009

Ad nauseam…. blah blah blah. . .

Anything that can be done to push forward the HTML5 spec at this point is a good thing. Canvas isn’t the solution to all our problems anyway.

Comment by mjuhl — October 28, 2009

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