Blocks embed

MakeCode provides a lightweight blocks rendering engine that renders code snippets into SVG images.

The Curse of screenshots

Unlike text based programming languages, block based snippets cannot be easily rendered in a documentation page. A quick solution is take screenshots of the snippets but things can quickly become unsustainable:

  • screenshots cannot be compiled - so it’s hard to maintain then
  • screenshots are not localizable - non-English speaking users won’t be able to read the blocks
  • screenshots cannot be reloaded easily into the editor
  • screenshots don’t play well with source control system - you cannot diff changes efficiently.

Rendering blocks on the spot

The MakeCode approach to solve this issue is to render the JavaScript code snippets on the client using the same block rendering engine as the editor. Under the hood, an IFrame from the MakeCode editor will render the blocks for you.


Here are sample of integration for various documentation/blogging engines.

Manual Implementation try this fiddle

The first part is to register a message handler that will communicate with the rendering IFrame. The renderer sends a renderready message when it is loaded and ready to receive messages.

export interface RenderReadyResponseMessage extends SimulatorMessage {
    source: "makecode",
    type: "renderready"

It sends back a renderblocks response message with the rendered blocks.

export interface RenderBlocksRequestMessage extends SimulatorMessage {
    type: "renderblocks",
    id: string;
    code: string;
    options?: {
        package?: string;
        snippetMode?: boolean;

export interface RenderBlocksResponseMessage extends SimulatorMessage {
    source: "makecode",
    type: "renderblocks",
    id: string;
    svg?: string;
    width?: number;
    height?: number;

This snippet registers a message handler. Feel free to write it using your favorite JS framework.

window.addEventListener("message", function (ev) {
    var msg =;
    if (msg.source != "makecode") return;

    switch (msg.type) {
        case "renderready":
            // TODO: start rendering snippets!
        case "renderblocks":
            var svg = msg.svg; // this is an string containing SVG
            var id =; // this is the id you sent
            // replace text with svg
            var img = document.createElement("img");
            img.src = msg.uri;
            img.width = msg.width;
            img.height = msg.height;
            var code = document.getElementById(id)
            code.parentElement.insertBefore(img, code)
}, false);

To request to render code, send a renderblocks message to the rendering IFrame.

function makeCodeRenderPre(pre) {
    var f = document.getElementById("makecoderenderer");
        type: "renderblocks",
        code: pre.innerText
    }, "");

The last step is to load the rendering iFrame in the HTML DOM and hide it so that it does not interferre with your page.

function makeCodeInjectRenderer() {
    var f = document.createElement("iframe"); = "makecoderenderer"; = "absolute"; = 0; = 0; = "1px"; = "1px";            
    f.src = ""

// load the renderer