Day 7: How to Draw a Clock with SVG and JavaScript

Generating images with central symmetry is one of the many use cases of rotating image elements. In this example, we create a clock that shows the actual time. We draw the clock with SVG and use JavaScript to turn the hour and minute handles in the right direction.

SVG elements can be manipulated from JavaScript the same way as any other HTML element. In this example, we are using a short code snipped to show the actual time on a clock. We access the hour and minute hands in JavaScript with getElementById then set their transform attribute with a rotation that reflects the current time.

There’s another trick here worth mentioning. The dots here showing each hour are drawn as a dashed circle. This works similarly as we can set the border-style CSS property for regular HTML elements, but more sophisticated. In SVG we can fine-tune the length of each dash segment and the space in between with the stroke-dasharray property. We can also set an offset with stroke-dashoffset.

<svg width="200" height="200" viewBox="-100 -100 200 200">
  <rect x="-100" y="-100" width="200" height="200" fill="#CD803D" />

  <circle r="55" stroke="#FCCE7B" stroke-width="10" fill="white" />

    stroke-dasharray="6 17.56194490192345"

  <g stroke="#5f4c6c" stroke-linecap="round">
    <line id="hours" y2="-20" stroke-width="8" />
    <line id="minutes" y2="-35" stroke-width="6" />
  const hoursElement = document.getElementById("hours");
  const minutesElement = document.getElementById("minutes");

  const hour = new Date().getHours() % 12;
  const minute = new Date().getMinutes();

  hoursElement.setAttribute("transform", `rotate(${(360 / 12) * hour})`);
  minutesElement.setAttribute("transform", `rotate(${(360 / 60) * minute})`);

You can find a more detailed explanation of a similar clock in this YouTube tutorial.