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Re: An alternative to gdk-pixbuf




On Thu, 6 Sep 2018 11:39:59 +0100
Emmanuele Bassi <ebassi@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> On Wed, 5 Sep 2018 at 19:25, Magnus Bergman
> <magnus.bergman@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> 
> > On Wed, 5 Sep 2018 17:28:22 +0100
> > Emmanuele Bassi <ebassi@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >  
> > > We're phasing out Cairo in favour of the CSS rendering model,
> > > implemented on top of OpenGL and Vulkan, as it's the API that most
> > > closely matches the requirements of GTK.  
> >
> > I'm not sure I quite understand what you are saying. What does this
> > mean for image loading if terms of actual implementation? What would
> > ideally happen then GTK+ needs to load an image (because the
> > application called gtk_image_new_from_file() for example)?
> >
> >  
> We're still using GdkPixbuf, and for the 4.0 API series we still have
> GdkPixbuf types exposed in the GTK API.
> 
> For future API series (5.x, 6.x, …) we may revisit this, with the
> option of moving icon loading into GTK itself.

Okay, sound reasonable. 


> > > Cairo is still used as a fallback mechanism — both when running on
> > > platforms without support for OpenGL or Vulkan, and in the interim
> > > period while the GL/Vulkan rendering pipelines inside GTK don't
> > > support a CSS feature. Additionally, you may still use Cairo for
> > > 2D high quality rendering, for printing and for custom drawing.  
> >
> > But then it comes to printing and custom drawing I'm on my own then
> > it comes to loading the images? Which is okey of course since
> > gdk-pixbuf is kind of a separate library already. But isn't it a
> > good thing to share common image loading code?
> >  
> 
> Not really; icons—especially ones that are identified via icon theme
> names—are a very narrow subset of "all the possible images and
> formats in human history".
> 
> > Gegl is great for image editing. But not as much for simple viewing.
> 
> This is debatable. If I'm viewing a 4000x4000 RGB image on a hidpi
> display I'm already pushing gdk-pixbuf and cairo to their limits
> because of the scaling factor applied to the window — not only the
> buffer gets loaded uncompressed to allow for zooming, but the image
> viewer needs to render a CPU-scaled down copy of the image.

I often deal with images of those sizes and I haven't experienced any
problems with this myself (sure it's not as fast as viewing small
images). But I will look into it. I though cairo was capable of
utilising the rendering back end for it's scaling. I don't see why
cairo NEEDS to use CPU-scaling, so maybe it can be fixed.


> > It doesn't do animation  
> 
> Animated formats are a dying breed, and they have all but killed by
> VP9 and new, web-friendly video formats. Social platforms will take a
> GIF and turn it into a video transparently.
> 
> Additionally, GTK 4.x already has new API to render videos and other
> frame-based media sources through GStreamer.

I must agree this sounds like a good decision. Even though I don't
think animated GIFs will die any time soon, it's not really anything
GTK+ should need to pay special attention to. From my perspective,
being interested in the art scene, animation might not be very common,
but formats supporting animation certainly are. It's not only in the
form of a series of frames (like GIF), it's also palette cycling, or
simply one blinking color I include in the concept of animation. I've
also seen image formats that shows the current time. Those, I think,
should ideally be displayed with the time updating. So that's also a
kind of animation. Does GStreamer support vector animations, by the way?


> > > From the perspective of a consumer of GdkPixbuf, the only thing
> > > that  
> > > an image loading library should do is, pretty literally, load
> > > images. No scaling, no compositing, no rendering. Saving to a
> > > file may be interesting — but that opens the whole transcoding
> > > can of worms, so maybe it should just be a debugging feature.
> > > Ideally, I/O operations should happen in a separate thread, and
> > > possible use multi-threading to chunk out the work on multiple
> > > cores; it definitely needs to integrate with GIO, as it's a
> > > modern API that well maps to GUIs.  
> >
> > Yes, I very much agree with this. Except I think it has to do
> > rendering of some sort. If an image contains a triangle, it has to
> > be converted to a function call that renders it (using
> > OpenGL/Vulcan/cairo) somehow. 
> 
> That's up to the toolkit, as it's going to be the one deciding how to
> render the rest of the UI. There's no way for you to know, from the
> outside, how to efficiently render anything.
> 
> That's why it's much, much better to get a memory buffer with the
> contents of the image, and let the toolkit pass it to the GPU.
> 
> Vector formats are different, but that's why we have API like Cairo or
> Skia; I'm also waiting for web browsers to implement SVG rendering on
> the GPU where possible, with the help of new primitives from the
> GL/Vulkan implementation.

That means one code path for images that are certainly raster based and
another code path for images that could contain vector elements? My
thought was to always use cairo (or something similar) and just ignore
if the images are raster based or vector based (or a combination of the
two). As long as there is no need to directly access the pixels, there
is generally no need to even know difference then using the API. But you
say there is no way for cairo to know how to effectively render a
pixmap? Could this problem possibly be solved in cairo? I guess the
problem is that cairo can't keep track of things such as images stored
in the texture RAM. Would it be theoretically possible to expand cairos
API to support such things, you think? So that a PDF viewer for example
could store embedded images in texture RAM and render the whole thing
in different sizes super fast, by only using cairo (or at least
something like cairo).


> > In the near future, I'll very likely deprecate most of GdkPixbuf's  
> > > API, except for the I/O operations; I'd also be happy to seal off
> > > most of its internals, within the ABI stability promise, to avoid
> > > leakage of internal state.  
> >
> > Will the loader plugin API go away, you think?
> >  
> 
> No API will ever go away: there are no plans for a gdk-pixbuf-3.0. The
> deprecations would mostly apply to API that is either long since been
> replaced by Cairo (scale/composite), or that is weirdly ad hoc, like
> saturate_and_pixelate(). Ideally, I'd like to deprecate the option to
> build gdk-pixbuf without depending on GIO to do MIME type sniffing,
> as GIO has been fixed to work on Windows and macOS, and it is a
> required dependency anyway. The animation API is pretty much a
> garbage fire, so it may go on the chopping block as well. Of course,
> deprecated API will keep working as well—or as badly—as it works
> today, so people can still use it. Moving pixbuf loaders to separate
> processes, and wrap them in sandboxes, would be a fairly good thing
> to do; it need to be decided at run time, though, because there are
> many users of GdkPixbuf that already run in a sandbox, which prevents
> creating smaller sandboxes inside it.

There was talk about ignoring the sniffing patterns (as well as the
file extensions) provided by the image loader plugins and only relying
on glib (and the shared MIME database) for sniffing the type. But it's
now a compile time option you say?

How does file type handling work on Windows nowadays? Last time I tried
it (about the time GTK+ 3,0 was released), it didn't work at all because
glib on Windows relied on Windows' own type system which is (or was)
completely broken. (I needed to ship the MIME database and the Unix
version of the type checking code from glib compiled for Windows with
my application in order to get it to work reliably.)

As I wrote in another answer, I don't think it's ideal to put small
tasks such as image decoding in micro sandboxes. It's probably better
to put even more data processing stuff in the same sandbox (like
applying filters to an image for example). Especially if the two
approaches conflicts with one another.
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