Canvas (GUI)

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In computer science and visualization, a canvas is a container that holds various drawing elements (lines, shapes, text, frames containing other elements, etc.). It takes its name from the canvas used in visual arts. It is sometimes called a scene graph because it arranges the logical representation of a user interface or graphical scene. Some implementations also define the spatial representation and allow the user to interact with the elements via a graphical user interface.

See this article for an overview (2010-08-15) of a small handful of canvas implementations.

Library support[edit]

Various free and open-source canvas or scene graph libraries are available for developers to use to create a user interface and/ or user interface elements for their computer programs.

Example free and open-source scene-graph canvas options include:


There are canvas modules within various libraries which do not provide the power of a full scene-graph. That is, they operate at a lower level which requires the programmer to provide code such as mapping mouse-clicks to objects in the canvas. Examples libraries which include such a canvas module include:

There are proprietary canvas libraries as well, for example: