html2canvas- Take Screenshot of Web Page and Save It to Server (Javascript and PHP)

FeedBack is important. Usually, end-users struggle to clarify their problems. And you might be unreachable for a phone call or remote connection.

That causes a huge need of visualization. First solution that appears in mind is to capture the current screen of user.

However, when I tried to implement that, it wasn’t so easy as I expected. Some old ways offer ActiveX but it seems too outdated. Since there’s a bridge needed between client side and server, JS libraries are the best way.

There’s a great library, html2canvas. It is told to be reverse-engineered version of Google Plus’ way of taking screenshots.

When I first discovered this library, it took me a while to use for simplest implementation. I just wanted to visualize a div element. However, there was no single page to tell the whole path to follow, thus I had to combine various sources.

Here’s how you can easily use for taking a screenshot of a div:

1- Import libraries
There are 3 libraries to import:

  • jquery.js
  • html2canvas.js
  • jquery.plugin.html2canvas.js

You can download html2canvas and html2canvas jQuery plugin from this link.
Note: The source link contains html2canvas v0.40. I recommend you to check for a newer version and use it instead from official html2canvas site.

I have used jquery.min.js v1.7.1 but you can try other versions. For this jQuery library, use this link.
Here’s first lines of code:

<script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.7.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="js/html2canvas.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="js/jquery.plugin.html2canvas.js"></script>
<!-- -->

2- Create your div
In my code, I used html2canvas for a div. You can use the whole body tag instead, it’s up to you.
Attach a div element to the page with a certain id:

<div id="target">
<!-- Render your page inside of this div. -->
</div>

3- Create a button and a hidden form
This part is important. In order to save the image to server, we need to pass captured image data with a form field.
In 4th step, you’ll see JavaScript code that writes the image data to hidden field and posts the form.

<input type="submit" value="Take Screenshot Of Div" onclick="capture();" />
<form method="POST" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="save.php" id="myForm">
    <input type="hidden" name="img_val" id="img_val" value="" />
</form>

4- JavaScript Code

    function capture() {
        $('#target').html2canvas({
            onrendered: function (canvas) {
                //Set hidden field's value to image data (base-64 string)
                $('#img_val').val(canvas.toDataURL("image/png"));
                //Submit the form manually
                document.getElementById("myForm").submit();
            }
        });
    }

5- Use the posted values
Here I used a form to post the value. You can use Ajax calls or whatever. I have a PHP file, save.php. In this file, we will both show the picture and save it to the server.

//save.php code

//Show the image
echo '<img src="'.$_POST['img_val'].'" />';

//Get the base-64 string from data
$filteredData=substr($_POST['img_val'], strpos($_POST['img_val'], ",")+1);

//Decode the string
$unencodedData=base64_decode($filteredData);

//Save the image
file_put_contents('img.png', $unencodedData);

6- Enjoy your day
So that’s pretty much it. Click here for a live demo or download the codes from Github repository page.

7- Notes

* This tutorial uses html2canvas v0.4.0 – 30.1.2013. It has a new release, v0.4.1 – 7.9.2013, can be downloaded from here. Though avaliability of newer versions haven’t been tested with the code above.

* Some people have declared that they had issues with checkbox/radiobutton states on the captured image. Stu has shared his code to capture these elements with their states. I haven’t tried by myself but people who face problem about this may get some opinion from his comment.

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