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Web GIS in practice VIII: HTML5 and the canvas element for interactive online mapping

Maged N Kamel Boulos1*, Jeffrey Warren2, Jianya Gong3 and Peng Yue3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, UK

2 MIT Media Laboratory, Design Ecology Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

3 State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing (LIESMARS), Wuhan University, 129 Luoyu Road, Wuhan, Hubei, 430079, PR China

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2010, 9:14  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-9-14

Published: 3 March 2010


HTML5 is being developed as the next major revision of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), the core markup language of the World Wide Web. It aims at reducing the need for proprietary, plug-in-based rich Internet application (RIA) technologies such as Adobe Flash. The canvas element is part of HTML5 and is used to draw graphics using scripting (e.g., JavaScript). This paper introduces Cartagen, an open-source, vector-based, client-side framework for rendering plug-in-free, offline-capable, interactive maps in native HTML5 on a wide range of Web browsers and mobile phones. Cartagen was developed at MIT Media Lab's Design Ecology group. Potential applications of the technology as an enabler for participatory online mapping include mapping real-time air pollution, citizen reporting, and disaster response, among many other possibilities.