For a quick one-and-a-half minute introduction, watch this brief overview video. Then, download the version for Windows or OS X, extract it to your Illustrator plug-ins folder, and spend some time on the documentation page, where you’ll find 10 tutorial videos that total around 25 minutes in length. Thomas Lewis wrote a nice article titled Introducing the Ai to Canvas Plug-In that provides even more background and context.
If you’ve read my blog over the years, you’ve probably heard me talk about the Adobe Illustrator to XAML export plug-in I wrote back in 2005. Well, about four months ago, Thomas and I were chatting at lunch, and he was evangelizing to me about the new canvas element in HTML5. As we talked, it became clear that canvas was an element that could benefit from some tooling. So after lunch, I did a search, and most of the tutorials and information I found used very simplistic smiley faces or basic shapes to demonstrate the canvas features. The light bulb went off, and I wondered if a version of my XAML plug-in could be re-tooled to work with canvas.
If you’re interested in the low-level details about how Ai->Canvas is built, you might enjoy Charles Torre’s interview with me on Channel 9. In the interview, I talk about fun topics like arc-length parameterization that are sure to be a hit at parties. Well…at least the kind of parties I attend. :-) Strike that…I don’t really attend parties…
While we’re on the topic of HTML5, you should also check out the Adobe Illustrator CS5 HTML5 Pack (from Adobe Labs). Their release extends the fantastic SVG support that’s been in Illustrator for years, and it’s great to see a tool like this from Adobe themselves. I can’t wait to see where they take it.
Over the months, I’ve built-up a bunch of test files for the plug-in (over 100). Most of them illustrate very simple features, and they’re not much to look at. Here are a few that might be interesting to folks:
The only file that’s been edited is the Clock example, since it’s no fun looking at a clock that has the wrong time. :-) Otherwise, all of these are directly out of the Ai->Canvas plug-in.
Thank you to everyone who helped test early versions of the plug-in, including many of the companies who created the HTML5-based sites for Beauty of the Web. Your insights absolutely helped to refine the feature-set.
I’d love to hear your feedback about the plug-in so that the next version is even better. Also, if you create any fun projects…even if you’re only using it to export artwork, add a comment along with a URL.
Since AI files are basically PDF1.4 files, how hard would it be to take this code and create a stand-alone PDF to Canvas converter? (sans the animation part) Preferably as a CLI based app run from a terminal.
Also handy for inkscape folks doing Inkscape SVG -> PDF -> Canvas.
It seems to me that Illustrator would be much more suited to exporting to SVG (including animation) than Canvas. Why not keep it as vector graphics instead?
@FishB8: Interesting question, and I think it would depend on the desired interactivity. Most of the text/graphics can be exported with full fidelity, but in many cases, rendering to a bitmap would have the same effect with less overhead.
@Greg: I expect that this will be a common question. Illustrator is absolutely suited to exporting SVG, and their HTML5 Pack makes that workflow even better. If you're building a site with SVG, there's no reason to use the Ai->Canvas plug-in. However, if you're building an application or game that uses canvas, there is no other way to get artwork with any level of sophistication (that you intend to transform/scale) into your app. Of course, you can always use bitmaps too.
Awesome stuff as always Mike!
Hi Mike, thanks for the great plug-in. I gave it a first try with an old illustration I made back in 2004. And was impressed by the documentation and the first results.
Back yard: an Ai to Canvas Export Example: awkbird.com/.../backyard