Dynamic Resizing of the Window

Depending on your preferences, you  may wish to have your games automatically fit the screen whenever the window is resized. There is a school of thought in web development that the user should have ultimate control over every aspect of a webpage - including its size - but that school of thought largely flies out the window when discussing a game, for the very practical reason that it confuses game controls with web page controls. For example, a swipe in a game is most likely intended to move the character, as opposed to causing the web page to scroll past the game. (This is especially true if your game is the only element on the page, as is the case with our games.) Likewise, some games require two fingers moving in unison to operate the controls: one which tells the character what direction to move, and one which tells the character what direction to shoot. Clearly these games do not want the web page interpreting "two fingers dragging" as zooming/shrinking the window.

For these reasons, we think it wisest to retain complete control over the game's size and its position on the page. Because of this, all of our games remain constantly centered with respect to the screen, and are always scaled such that they most closely fit the screen at its current orientation. (The user can of course change the size by rotating the screen 90 degrees, if on a mobile device, but any game using gyroscope properties should disable this feature as well. We won't cover that in this post as none of our games use the gyroscope events.)

This really requires two features that we must add to the game: the ability to resize to fit the window, and the ability to stay centered with respect to the screen.

Resizing to Fit the Window

The window's width and height can be obtained (in Javascript) through window.innerWidth and window.innerHeight, but there's a catch: first you need to disable the scrollbar. Once again, we are assuming that the user has no use for it - after all, the game will appear exactly centered no matter how much they scroll it, so it is a useless feature to have at this point. You can enable the scrollbar, but your window width and height will be slightly incorrect on some devices and you will wind up with a scrollbar covering part of your game. Trust us: your users will thank you to get rid of it.

Disabling the scrollbar is accomplished through different means on different devices, but these three bits of code should do the trick on all devices:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, user-scalable=no, minimum-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0"> //above the script tag

document.documentElement.style.overflow = "hidden"; //below the script tag
document.body.scroll = "no"; //below the script tag

Once you've gotten rid of the scrollbar, window.innerWidth and window.innerHeight should give you the correct width and height of your screen. But be careful! Setting your canvases' width and height to the screen's width and height will typically mess up the aspect ratio of the game and will make it look skewed or stretched. Instead, we want to scale our canvases while keeping a constant aspect ratio. We will presume that you want the canvases to be as large as they can be while fitting inside the screen.

To accomplish this, let's first see how much we'd have to scale the canvas in each direction and compare them. We will use the largest canvas in our game to do so, since it is the limiting factor.  The x-scale is the screen width divided by the canvas' original width; the y-scale is the screen height divided by the canvas' original height. The desired scale will be the smaller of the x-scale and the y-scale. Why? Because any scale larger than this will cause the canvas to flow past the screen edge in one of the directions.

Once we have obtained the scale s, we simply multiply all of the canvases' widths and heights by this amount and round the result. (Remember that the widths and heights of a canvas must be integers.)

The final step we must take is to use context.scale(s,s) to rescale the context (here s is the scale factor that we multiplied the canvas by). However, here you should be aware that the context will reset its scale every time you reset the canvas width. Thus game developers using this method should be wary of using the traditional canvas.width = canvas.width method of clearing a canvas, and should always use clearRect instead.

Centering the Canvas

Before you center your canvases, you need to do two things: use window.scrollTo(0,0) to scroll to the top of the page, and set each canvas's top left corner to (0,0). Each time you center the canvas, it gets pushed down the page a little bit. If you do not recalibrate its top-left corner each time you center it, the canvas will eventually get pushed beyond the edge of the page's limits and you won't be able to see it.

Once you have calibrated the top-left corner of the canvas, you need to find the position that this top-left corner actually occupies on your web page. Even though you have set it to (0,0), your web page may have an internal lower limit that gets in the way of this. For example, WordPress does not allow us to put our canvases at the very top because that space is occupied by our menu. Thus even when we have specified (0,0) as the top left corner, a closer examination will reveal that our canvas is located somewhere else. To find its actual location, we need to use getBoundingClientRect and ask for the top left corner. The values this returns will represent the shift that we need to correct for later.

Upon centering our canvas, there should be just as much space above its top side as below its bottom side. This means that the top is located (window.innerHeight-canvas.height)/2 pixels away from the top of the page. Likewise, the left side is located (window.innerWidth-canvas.width)/2 pixels away from the left of the page. Note that both of these values need to be corrected by the shift we obtained previously.

The following function can be used to center a single canvas:

function centerCanvas(canvas) {
    canvas.style.left = "0px";
    canvas.style.top = "0px";
    var rect = canvas.getBoundingClientRect();
    var x = (window.innerWidth - canvas.width)/2;
    x -= rect.left;
    var y = (window.innerHeight - canvas.height)/2;
    y -= rect.top;
    canvas.style.left = x + "px";
    canvas.style.top = y + "px";

Note that on a mobile device, you should set a 500 ms timeout before centering the canvas after a resize event; failing to do so will place the canvas in the wrong position. Read here for more information.

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