Using SVG with CSS3 and HTML5 — Supplementary Material

Example code and online extras for the O'Reilly Media book by Amelia Bellamy-Royds, Kurt Cagle, and Dudley Storey.

Drawing with Dashes

One of the most popular SVG animations uses stroke dashing to imitate the effect of a path being drawn from one end to the other.

The concept: start with a dash pattern where the entire shape is covered by a gap, and then adjust it until the entire shape is outlined by a single dash.

As you can imagine, the getTotalLength() method introduced in the book is essential for determining how long your dash and gap need to be to cover the entire stroke. To recap:

Because browser length calculations vary, if you’re hard-coding the numbers in advance you’ll want to slightly overestimate the length required, so that the entire path will start empty and finish stroked, in any browser.

However, if you’re animating with JavaScript anyway, it is better to can calculate the path length dynamically in the current browser, so it is always exact. You can also use JavaScript to calculate a value that you set in an inline style, which is particularly useful in combination with CSS variables.

But beware: most browsers still only support getTotalLength() on <path> elements. In SVG 2 and in new versions of Chrome, it is supported on all SVG shape elements.

There are two variations of the drawing animation method:


Certain SVG implementations, including older Firefox versions on Linux systems, implemented stroke-dashoffset in such a way that negative and positive offsets had the reverse effect. This causes the stroke-dashoffset drawing animation to run backwards. For consistent results, animate stroke-dasharray, not the dash offset.

Example 13-X1 uses a CSS animation sequence of stroke-dasharray to complete the outlines of the heart and spade icons. It then fades in a fill color inside the outlined shapes. Figure 13-X1 compares different stages of the animation.

View the live example.

Four copies of the heart and spade. In top left, the shapes aren't yet recognizable, just a partial stroke around one lobe of each.  In top right, the strokes are finishing up the second lobe of each shape, but haven't yet connected up.  In bottom left, the strokes are complete, and the fill is starting to be colored.  In bottom right, the finished shapes with complete stroke and colored fill.
Figure 13-X1. Various stages of an animation to draw and then fill in shapes
Example 13-X1. “Drawing” a shape by animating a dash pattern
<svg xmlns="" xml:lang="en"
     width="410px" height="205px" viewBox="-1 -1 44 22">
    <title>Drawing SVG Shapes</title>
    <style type="text/css">
        path {
            stroke-dashoffset: -1;               1
            stroke-linejoin: round;
            stroke-linecap: round;
            animation: draw 5s ease-in;          2
        @keyframes draw {
            0% {
                stroke-dasharray: 0 83;          3
                fill-opacity: 0;
            90% {
                stroke-dasharray: 83 0;          4
                fill-opacity: 0;
            100% {
                stroke-dasharray: 83 0;
                fill-opacity: 1;                 5

    <path id="heart" stroke="darkRed" fill="crimson"
          d="M10,6 Q10,0 15,0T20,6Q20,10 15,14
             T10,20Q10,18 5,14T0,6Q0,0 5,0T10,6Z" />
    <path id="spade" stroke="#222" fill="gray"
          d="M9,15C9,20 0,21 0,16S6,9 10,0C14,9 20,11 20,16
             S11,20 11,15Q11,20 13,20H7Q9,20 9,15Z" />

To avoid having a dash end exactly at a corner—ruining a line join—the dash pattern is offset by 1 unit. With the round line joins and caps used here, the difference will not be noticeable, but with other styles it would be.


The animation property applies the draw keyframes, timed to last 5s, with no repeats, and uses an ease-in mode to slowly ramp up the rate of change to full speed.


The initial value of the animation is set using the 0% keyframe selector. It sets fill-opacity to 0 (completely transparent) and stroke-dasharray to a zero-length dash followed by an 83-unit gap. The length of 83 was chosen because it is slightly larger than the longest path length calculated for the spade in any browsers tested. The heart—which has a shorter path length—will be fully stroked before the animation is completed.


After 90% of the animation time has passed, the stroke-dasharray has transitioned to an 83-unit dash and zero-length gap. The fill-opacity, however, is still 0.


The transition to the final keyframe keeps stroke-dasharray the same, but shifts fill-opacity to completely opaque.

Because the stroke-dasharray and fill-opacity properties are only set within the animation keyframes, browsers that do not support animation will simply present the shapes fully stroked and filled. As we will discuss in Chapter 19, it’s a good idea to always consider the fallback static version of your animated SVG. For “enter” animations like this, you usually want that static graphic to be the final appearance.