User Manual

Communication with web pages

One the key advantages of using PlayCanvas and WebGL over other plugins or cross-compiled engines is the ability to interact directly between your application and the surrounding webpage. In this page we'll talk about some common ways of interfacing your PlayCanvas application with a web page or web application.

There are two ways you may find your PlayCanvas application communicating with the surrounding Web page. First, you may have embedded your application in a iframe in a page. Second you may be serving your own HTML page which loads an PlayCanvas page. These two methods require very different ways of communicating between web page and application.

Defining an API

Common to both methods of hosting you should think about what features of your PlayCanvas application you need to expose to the web page. Perhaps you need to change the color of something based on a button click or a slider; or you might need to send some text input into the application to be rendered to a texture. Decide in advance what features you need to expose and in your PlayCanvas application write an explicit API or set of functions which are the only functions that your web page will call.

Here is a simple example where we show a couple of different ways of exposing an API from a PlayCanvas application to a web page.


// method one: define a global function to set the score
window.setScore = function (score) {
    var app = pc.Application.getApplication();
    var entity = app.root.findByName("Score Keeper");
    entity.script.scoreKeeper.setScore(score);
}

var ScoreKeeper = pc.createScript("scoreKeeper");

ScoreKeeper.prototype.initialize = function (entity) {
    // method two: define an application event to set the score
    this.app.on("score:set", function (score) {
        this.setScore(score);
    }, this);
};

ScoreKeeper.prototype.setScore = function (score) {
    // do the score setting here.
};

// how to use the API:

// method one:
window.setScore(10);

// method two:
var app = pc.Application.getApplication();
app.fire("score:set", 10);

Method one defines a global function which can be called anywhere in your page to access your application. Method two defines an application event which you can fire from your page. The application listens for this event and performs actions in response to the event. Both are valid methods of defining an API with your application.

Embedded in IFrame

Embedding a PlayCanvas application in an iframe is a quick and easy way to get your PlayCanvas content in a page. It also means that you can make use of our optimized hosting and don't need to worry about serving all the PlayCanvas content. However, the downside is that you can not call javascript functions in the PlayCanvas application directly from the hosting page because they are running on different pages.

To communicate between a parent page and an iframe you will need to use the postMessage javascript API to send data between your page and the PlayCanvas application.

In your host page

<iframe id="app-frame" src="http://playcanv.as/p/example">
<script>
var iframe = document.getElementById("app-frame");
iframe.contentWindow.postMessage({
    score: 10,
}, "http://playcanv.as");
</script>

In your application

window.addEventListener("message", function (event) {
    if (event.origin === "http://example.com") { // always check message came from your website
        var score = event.data.score;

        // call API method one:
        window.setScore(score);

        // call API method two:
        var app = pc.Application.getApplication();
        app.fire("score:set", score);
    }
}, false);

Serve your own HTML

When you download your PlayCanvas application for self-hosting. This is the index.html page that we include to run your application.

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
    <meta name='viewport' content='width=device-width, initial-scale=1, maximum-scale=1, minimum-scale=1, user-scalable=no' />
    <meta charset='utf-8'>
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="styles.css">
    <title>Application Title</title>
    <script src="playcanvas-stable.min.js"></script>
    <script>
        SCENE_PATH = "12346.json";
        CONTEXT_OPTIONS = {
            'alpha': false,
            'preserveDrawingBuffer': false
        };
    </script>
</head>
<body>
    <script src="__start__.js"></script>
    <script src="__loading__.js"></script>
</body>
</html>

It is absolutely possible and even recommended, that you modify start from this page as the basis of your web page and you can modify it to add any additional content that is required for you page.

When it comes to communicating with your PlayCanvas application, for example from a button push. You can call the APIs we defined above directly from your script. There is no need for the postMessage calls.

Note, it is important that you run any custom code after the __start__.js scripts as this creates the PlayCanvas application. In many cases you may wish to wait until after all the asset loading has finished, but before the application starts. You can do this by responding to the start event.

For example:

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
    <meta name='viewport' content='width=device-width, initial-scale=1, maximum-scale=1, minimum-scale=1, user-scalable=no' />
    <meta charset='utf-8'>
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="styles.css">
    <title>Application Title</title>
    <script src="playcanvas-stable.min.js"></script>
    <script>
        SCENE_PATH = "12346.json";
        CONTEXT_OPTIONS = {
            'alpha': false,
            'preserveDrawingBuffer': false
        };
    </script>
</head>
<body>
    <script src="__start__.js"></script>
    <script src="__loading__.js"></script>
    <script>
    var app = pc.Application.getApplication();
    app.on("start", function () {
        // get the root of the scene.
        var hierarchy = app.root.getChildren()[0];

        // do other stuff here
    });
    </script>
</body>
</html>