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Polypad API Docs


Our JavaScript API allows you to add interactive Polypad canvases to any website. You simply need to include our JS source file, create a parent element for Polypad, and then call Polypad.create():

<script src=""></script>
<div id="polypad" style="width: 800px; height: 500px;"></div>
<script>Polypad.create(document.querySelector('#polypad'), {apiKey: 'test'})</script>

Polypad requires Custom Web Components and the Web Animations API. If you want to use browsers that don’t support these APIs, you have to include a polyfill, e.g.

Our goal is to support the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Edge on all mobile and desktop devices.

Note: the polypad-v2.3.js script needs to be included in the <body>, not the <head> of your HTML document.

JSON Schema

Every Polypad canvas consists of a collection of tiles and strokes. The state of a Polypad can be serialised as JSON, with the following schema:

interface TileData {
  name: string,       // The tile type (since 'type' is a reserved field in many databases)
  options?: string,   // Parameters for this tile
  id?: string;        // Unique identifier
  x?: number,         // X-position
  y?: number,         // Y-position
  rot?: number,       // Rotation (in degrees)
  size?: number;      // Used for some resizable tiles like images or text boxes
  colour?: string;    // HEX colour (e.g. "#ff0044")
  flipped?: boolean;
  locked?: boolean;
  fixed?: boolean;
  hidden?: boolean;
  order?: 'front'|'back'
  cables?: {fromPort?: string, toPort?: string, toTileId: string}[];

interface StrokeData {
  id?: string;         // Unique identifier
  points: string;      // SVG path
  colour?: string;     // HEX colour
  brush: 'pen'|'marker'|'highlighter'

type GridType = 'none'|'square2-grid'|'square-dots'|'square-grid'|'tri-dots'|'tri-grid'|'tri2-dots'|'tri2-grid';

interface PolypadData {
  title: string;         // Polypad title
  grid: GridType;
  noLabels: boolean;
  altColors?: boolean;
  mergeTiles?: boolean;
  evalEquations?: boolean;
  labelType?: 'fraction'|'percentage'|'decimal';
  tiles: TileData[];
  strokes: StrokeData[];

Please that the maximum length of the tiles and strokes array is 2000. With more items on the same page, you might see performance issues on some devices.


The Polypad.create() function takes an options argument with many ways to customise Polypad:

interface Polypad {
  create: (options: {
    apiKey?: string;        // Mathigon-issued API key
    userKey?: string;       // Unique identifier for the current user

    sidebar?: boolean;      // Whether to show the sidebar
    toolbar?: boolean;      // Whether to show the toolbar
    settings?: boolean;     // Whether to show the settings bar

    initial?: PolypadData;  // Initial data to show

    // Whether to show a second, custom sidebar tab
    sidebarTab?: {title: string, icon: string};

    // Override the default theme colours 'red', 'blue', 'green', ...
    themeColours?: Record<string, string>;

    // Whether to prevent panning and zooming of the canvas using touch gestures.
    noPanAndZoom?: boolean;

    // Whether to bind keyboard events for undo/redo and cut/copy/paste. Default is false.
    bindKeyboardEvents?: boolean;

    // Provide a way to upload image files: you need to upload the file object to a storage
    // backend and return a promise that resolves with the URL of the uploaded file.
    imageUpload?: (file: File) => Promise<string>;
  }) => PolypadInstance;

Polypad.create() then returns a PolypadInstance object with additional methods for manipulating the canvas. Please note that most of these methods don’t type-check their input arguments. If you pass in incorrect data, the behaviour is undefined.

interface PolypadInstance {
  // Bind or unbind event listeners. See below for all supported events.
  on: (event: string, callback: (e: unknown) => void) => void;
  off: (event: string, callback: (e: unknown) => void) => void;

  // Serialize or un-serialize a polypad state from JSON data. See above for types.
  serialize: (maxTiles?: number, maxStrokes?: number, maxStrokeLength?: number) => PolypadData;
  unSerialize: (data: PolypadData) => void;

  // Create a PNG image of a given size. This asynchronous function returns a Data URI string.
  pngImage: (width: number, height: number) => Promise<string>;

  // Add, update or delete a tile or stroke. .add() returns the ID of the new item. Note that
  // you cannot update strokes, or update the 'name' property of a tile once created.
  add: (data: TileData|StrokeData) => string;
  update: (id: string, properties: TileData) => void;
  delete: (...ids: string[]) => void;

  // Get the current user selection, or programmatically select multiple existing tiles.
  getSelection: () => string[];
  select: (...tileIds: string[]) => void;

  // Undo or redo the latest changes to the canvas.
  undo: () => void;
  redo: () => void;

  // Set the background grid or display options. See the `options` event for more details.
  setGrid: (string: GridType) => void;
  setOptions: (e: {
    altColors?: boolean;
    advancedOptions?: boolean;
    mergeTiles?: boolean;
    labelType?: 'fraction'|'percentage'|'decimal';
    noLabels?: boolean;
    evalEquations?: boolean;
    playAudio?: boolean;
  }) => void;

  // Clear all tiles on the current canvas. Unline .unSerialize({}), this action can be undone.
  clear: () => void;

  // Get or update the visible viewport of the canvas, or reset it to its initia position.
  getViewport: () => {x: number; y: number; zoom: number};
  setViewport: (x: number, y: number, zoom: number) => void;
  resetViewport: () => void;

  // Expand, collapase or toggle the sidebar on the left. With no arguments, the current state
  // is flipped, or you can explicitly specify and expanded or collapsed state.
  toggleSidebar: (expanded?: boolean) => void;

  // Add a custom button to the toolbar or sidebar. You can provide either an HTML string or a
  // DOM Element, and the method returns the new <button> DOM element.
  addCustomButton: (target: 'toolbar'|'settings', body: string|Element = '') => Element

Custom Sidebar Tab

Using the sidebarTab property, you can enable a second, custom tab for the sidebar, similar to Mathigon’s version of Polypad. You need to specify a title, as well as an icon ID, which could be one of these options:

'tiles', 'controls', 'shapes', 'geometry', 'numbers', 'fractions', 'algebra', 'probability', 'undo',
'redo', 'grid', 'construction', 'text', 'color', 'pen', 'axes', 'screenshot', 'zoom-in', 'zoom-out',
'move', 'cursor', 'pen', 'marker', 'highlighter', 'ruler', 'text', 'eraser', 'add-image',
'text-alt', 'fraction', 'power', 'sqrt', 'copy', 'delete', 'geo-line', 'geo-circle', 'equation',
'fullscreen-reverse', 'fullscreen', 'spades', 'clubs', 'hearts', 'diamonds', 'bold', 'italic',
'underlined', 'quiz', 'settings', 'unlocked', 'lock', 'layer-back', 'layer-front', 'folder-shared',
'move-off', 'eye-off', 'fraction-up', 'fraction-down', 'combine-dots', 'split-dots'

The content of the sidebar can be simply added into the <div></div> that the Polypad instance is attached to. It will be automatically shown in the correct place using the <slot></slot> element. See example.html for an example!


Using the .on() and .off() methods on PolypadInstance, you can bind and unbind many different event listeners. The following events are supported:


This event is triggered whenever the state of the Polypad changes because the user has added, updated or deleted a stroke or tile. Note that multiple different tiles can change at once, but the event is only triggered once at the end of a move or rotate action.

The .change() event returns an array with the [pevious, updated] state of every tile that was changed. This can be useful for maintaining your own undo/redo stacks. Note that strokes cannot change, only be created or deleted.

Callback Options: {added: (TileData|StrokeData)[], changed: [TileData, TileData][], deleted: (TileData|StrokeData)[]}


Triggered whenever the position of the visible viewport changes, for example because the user pans or zooms. Note that the viewport is not part of the “state” of a polypad. When calling .unSerialize() or .resetViewport(), we update the viewport so that all tiles and strokes are visible and centered.

Callback Options: {x: number, y: number, zoom: number}

.on('undo'), .on('redo')

Triggered on undo and redo: both from a user input (e.g. clicking the undo button or CTRL + Z on the keyboard), or programatically (e.g. calling .undo() above), You can call .preventDefault() on the event object to prevent the built-in undo/redo handling, and instead apply changes from a custom stack of changes.

Callback Options: Event


Triggered whenever the user changes the grid background of the canvas.

Callback Options: {grid: GridType}


Triggered whenever the user changes the canvas options using the settings bar on the left. Options include whether to use an alternate colour scheme (altColors), whether to show number labels for some tiles (noLabels), whether to merge number cards or prime factor circles (mergeTiles), whether to play sound effects (playAudio), and whether to evaluate equations (evalEquations). This event will always be called after the .setOptions() method.

Callback Options: {altColors?: boolean, advancedOptions?: boolean, noLabels?: boolean, mergeTiles?: boolean, labelType?: 'fraction'|'percentage'|'decimal', evalEquations?: boolean, playAudio?: boolean}


Triggered whenever the current selection changes.

Callback Options: {tiles: string[]}


This event is triggered continuously while users are moving one or more tiles. The Callback argument contains the ID and the current position of all currently selected tiles.

Callback Options: {tiles: {id: string, x: number, y: number}[]}

Future Features

  • Customisation options for which items to show in the sidebar, toolbar and settings menu
  • Animate the position of tiles in .update(), rather than changing the position instantly.
  • Animate the drawing of strokes in .add().
  • Expose additional, internal methods and events
  • Customise the maximum zoom/pan limits
  • Switch colour scheme (light/dark)
  • Support non-English languages
  • Support including the script in the <head>. Currently, it accesses document.body, so it needs to be included in the <body>.

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