You're So Vain (You just want more pictures of you)

October 7, 2014 TJ Taylor

So, you’re tired of Photo Booth and you want something more “cross-platform”.
Specifically, you really want to be able to take pictures of yourself in your browser,
because, well, who doesn’t, right?

Well, now you can!

HTML5 introduced a slew of new APIs that do a variety of things. But the one we’re interested in today is getUserMedia. This newfangled API affords meer web developers, like you and I, the ability to capture audio and video through native browser code. That’s right, no more “You must install Flash” messages or “It’s time for another update of Silverlight!”. Just a sprinkling of Javscript, and away we go.

Now, let’s assume we have a barebones HTML page:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<video id='vid'></video>
<canvas id='pic' width='640' height='480'></canvas>
<button type='button' id='take-pic'>Smile!</button>

And we want to take a picture of ourselves. How do we go about it? Throw the following in a `script` tag at the end of the body and you’ll be bright and vain … er, right as rain.

var vid, pic, button, media, takePicture;
vid = document.getElementById('vid');
pic = document.getElementById('pic');
button = document.getElementById('take-pic');

button.onclick = takePicture = function takePicture() {
  pic.getContext('2d').drawImage(vid, 0, 0, 640, 480);
  var data = pic.toDataURL('image/png');
  pic.setAttribute('src', data);

  {video: true, audio: false},
  function success(stream) {
    media = stream;
    vid.src = window.URL.createObjectURL(media);;
  function error(err) {
    alert('Oh noes!');

The full page is on Github, feel free to clone and fiddle all you want.

P.S. Keep in mind that this will only work in Chrome, you’ll have to do some vendor shimming if you want it to work in other browsers. Google keeps an adapter available for just this purpose.

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