A mini-library for easily flattening SVG and Canvas elements into images on the fly.



A mini-library for easily flattening SVG and Canvas elements into images on the fly. For SVG elements, it relies on canvg for the heavy lifting.

When to use

If you're drawing dynamic SVG or Canvas graphics, but you want to replace them with flat images in the browser. This can also be done with server-side scripts or manually using things like SVG Crowbar, but sometimes you want to cut out the middleman, y'know?

How to use


If you're only converting Canvas elements, there are no dependencies. Just include the small JavaScript file:

<script type="text/javascript" src="pancake.min.js"></script>

If you're converting SVG elements, you need to include the canvg library too. You can use the hosted version:

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://canvg.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/rgbcolor.js"></script> 
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://canvg.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/StackBlur.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://canvg.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/canvg.js"></script> 
<script type="text/javascript" src="pancake.min.js"></script> 

You can also use pancake.stack.js or pancake.stack.min.js, which combines them into a single file for the lazy:

<script type="text/javascript" src="pancake.stack.min.js"></script>     

Making a pancake

To create a flat image based on an SVG or Canvas element, just call the constructor and pass either the element itself or the ID of the element.

//Passing the element itself
var flapjack = Pancake(svgElement);

//Passing the element's ID
var flapjack = Pancake("map");

You can also pass an optional image format. If you don't pass one, it will default to PNG.

//Make it a JPG instead of a PNG
var flapjack = Pancake("map","jpg");

//This works too.  We're not that picky
var flapjack = Pancake("map","image/jpeg");

You can also pass any custom <img> attributes you want.

//Pass in a special class and an alt for the image
//You'll get back <img class="imageClass" alt="this is an image!" ... >
var flapjack = Pancake("map",{class: "imageClass", alt: "this is an image!"});

//Pass in specific height/width
//You'll get back <img height="400" width="200" ... >
var flapjack = Pancake("map",{height: 400, width: 200});

Serving a pancake

Once you've created a pancake, access its src or element property to actually serve it to a user. The src is a data URI; you can use it like you would any image URL.

var flapjack = Pancake(someSortofSVG);

//Use the .element property to get the image as a new <img> element

//Use the .src property if you just want the image src
//Useful if you want to change an existing image element    
existingImage.src = flapjack.src;

//Also useful for things like using it as a background image instead
myDiv.style.backgroundImage = "url("+flapjack.src+"")";

//You can also access the .width and .height properties, but they may not be reliable
flapjack.height; //e.g. 480
flapjack.width; //e.g. 320

If you want to replace a DOM element, use the .replace() method. Like the constructor, this takes either a document element or the ID of the element. This is useful if, say, you've drawn an SVG and then you want to replace the SVG with the image version.

<svg id="myChart">...</svg>

var flapjack = Pancake("myChart"); //Generate the image
flapjack.replace("myChart"); //Replace the SVG with the image

//You can pass the element too
var el = document.getElementById("myChart");
var flapjack = Pancake(el);

To trigger a download of the image, use the .download() method. It accepts an optional filename for the download.

var flapjack = Pancake("pieChart"); //Generate the image    
flapjack.download("blueberry.png"); //User will be prompted to download blueberry.png




Returns a pancaked image and some other handy properties.

element can be a DOM element (either <svg> or <canvas>) or an element ID (like "myChartId"). Required.

format is an optional image format. Accepted values are: png, image/png, webp, image/webp, jpg, jpeg, image/jpg, image/jpeg. The default is png.

attributes is an optional list of extra attributes to give the resulting <img> element. You can pass any number of attributes, like class, id, style, alt, etc. Must be an object of the form {attributeName: attributeValue, attributeName: attributeValue}. You can pass the image format in this object instead of as a separate argument if you feel like it.

var p = Pancake("mySvg");
var pJPG = Pancake("mySvg","jpg");
var pAlsoJPG = Pancake("mySvg",{format: "jpg"});
var pWithClass = Pancake("mySvg",{class: "syrupy"});
var pJPGWithClass = Pancake("mySvg","jpg",{class: "syrupy"});
var p50x50 = Pancake("mySvg","jpg",{height: 50, width: 50});    

Properties of a pancake


The data URI for a pancaked image. This can be used just like an image URL. Put it in the src of an existing image, or make it the href of a link, or set it as a background image.


An <img> element you can manipulate and/or add to the page. Includes any custom attributes you passed to the constructor. Treat it like any other element.


The format of the pancaked image. Either png,jpg,webp.

p.width and p.height

The width and height of the pancaked image. Probably not reliable.

Methods of a pancake


Replace the element on the page with the pancaked image. elementToReplace can be either an element or the ID of an element. It can be a <div>, another <img>, the original <svg> that created the image, or any other kind of element. Be careful replacing something with unknown dimensions, though, it could mess up your layout.


Triggers a download of the original pancaked image. If filename is supplied, that will be the default filename of the download. Otherwise, it will guess a reasonable filename using the ID of the original <svg> or <canvas> element. If there is no ID, it will default to image.png, image.jpg, or image.webp (depending on the format).

No defined width/height SVG bug

If your <svg> doesn't have an explicit pixel width/height defined, you're going to have a bad day. Pancake.js will detect its true dimensions, but canvg won't, and it will throw an error instead. The simplest fix for this is, right before you're going to create your Pancake, get the <svg>'s current width/height and set the attributes explicitly, like so:

<svg id="chart" width="100%" height="100%">

//This won't work   
var p = Pancake("chart");

//This will work
var el = document.getElementById("chart__svg");
var bbox = el.getBBox();

var p = Pancake(el);

//D3 version
var svg = d3.select("#chart");
var bbox = svg.node().getBBox();

var p = Pancake(svg.node());

//jQuery version    
var svg = $("#chart");
var bbox = svg.get(0).getBBox();

var p = Pancake(svg.get(0));

To Dos

  • Smarter width/height detection - although it's unclear if this even matters.
  • The download() method works by creating an <a> element with the data URI as the href attribute, inserting it, and simulating a click. This is not the most cross-browser-friendly thing.
  • Not well set up for creating multiple copies of the same image using the .element property, would need to be done with .src instead
  • Look into provided a nice download URL for the image itself, not just a download link (so far doesn't seem possible)
  • Haven't tested this that much. Should test it on more browsers and with unusual inputs.

Other Resources

  • canvg, for converting canvas elements to SVG
  • SVG Crowbar, for saving out an in-browser SVG as a .svg file with associated styles
  • Grumpicon, for converting SVGs into fallback images, also available as a command line utility.


Noah Veltman
Web: http://noahveltman.com
Twitter: @veltman
Email: noah@noahveltman.com