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Diagrams/Dev/Freezing

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(Solution #2: 'freeze')
(write up more thoughts on freeze etc.)
Line 18: Line 18:
   
 
foo # scale 2 # lw 1
 
foo # scale 2 # lw 1
 
 
foo # lw 1 # scale 2
 
foo # lw 1 # scale 2
   
Line 28: Line 27:
   
 
For example, under this scheme
 
For example, under this scheme
<pre>
+
foo # scale 2 # lw 1
+
foo # scale 2 # lw 1
foo # lw 1 # scale 2
+
foo # lw 1 # scale 2
</pre>
+
 
have the same meaning, but
 
have the same meaning, but
<pre>
+
foo # lw 1 # freeze # scale 2
+
foo # lw 1 # freeze # scale 2
</pre>
+
 
is different.
 
is different.
   
 
== Semantics of 'freeze' ==
 
== Semantics of 'freeze' ==
   
== Implementation of 'freeze' ==
+
One issue is that some backends may not support the ability to do stroking in the context of some transformation (so that e.g. lines come out fatter in some places and thinner in others). It might be nice to define an alternate semantics defined in terms of, e.g. an "average scale factor" for a given transformation, which can be applied directly to the line width attribute itself. The issue would be coming up with a definition which is compositional.
   
== Rough notes dumped here, need to edit ==
+
However, cairo and SVG, at least, both support stroking within transformed contexts, so this hasn't become an issue yet.
  +
  +
== Implementation of 'freeze' ==
   
The reason this is difficult is that some of the transformations
+
<code>freeze</code> introduces quite a bit of difficulty into any backend implementation. The reason this is difficult is that some of the transformations ''should'' apply to styles and some ''shouldn't''. But the transformations and styles occur in the tree all mixed up. (Also, transformations can affect some attributes!) The way we handled this in the past was to never give any transformations directly to a backend. We only gave ''fully transformed primitives''. For example, the cairo backend's implementation of <code>withStyle</code> works by ''first'' performing the given rendering operation with ''no'' transformations in effect (since it is given fully transformed primitives), then it applies just the transformations occuring above ''freeze'' (the ones which should affect the line width and so on) before doing the actual stroking.
*should* apply to styles and some *shouldn't*. But the
 
transformations and styles occur in the tree all mixed up. (Also,
 
transformations can affect some attributes!) The way we handled this in
 
the past was to never give any transformations directly to a backend.
 
We only give *fully transformed primitives*. e.g. the cairo backend's
 
implementation of withStyle works by *first* performing the given
 
rendering operation under *no* transformations (since it is given
 
fully transformed primitives), then apply just the transformations
 
above freeze and do the actual stroking.
 
   
If we want to be able to apply transformations incrementally while
+
However, if we want to be able to apply transformations incrementally while walking down the tree this gets tricky. We can incrementally apply transformations occurring above <code>freeze</code> with no issues, but below a <code>freeze</code> things become problematic since the transformations should apply to primitives but not attributes.
we're walking down the tree this gets tricky. I suppose we could do
 
*inverse* transformations before doing the stroking corresponding to
 
the transformations *underneath* the freeze...
 
   
Even just continuing to fully apply the transformations to primitives
+
Even just continuing to fully apply the transformations to primitives and allowing styles to be applied early would go a long way, I think. We could also do some work to coalesce styles. e.g. consider
and allowing styles to be applied early would go a long way, I think.
 
We could also do some work to coalesce styles. e.g. consider
 
   
foo1 = hcat (map circle [1,2,3,4,5]) # fc blue
+
foo1 = hcat (map (fc blue . circle) [1,2,3,4,5])
   
foo2 = hcat (map (fc blue . circle) [1,2,3,4,5])
+
foo2 = hcat (map circle [1,2,3,4,5]) # fc blue
   
It would be nice if these actually generated the same output, i.e. the
+
It would be nice if these actually generated the same output, ''i.e.'' the programmer didn't have to worry about making such changes to their code in order to "optimize" it.
programmer didn't have to worry about making such changes to their
 
code in order to "optimize" it.
 

Revision as of 20:16, 1 April 2012

Some rough notes/explanations on freezing and how it relates to optimizing the backend API. Eventually these notes should go into the user manual.

Contents

1 The issue

Most often one wants to be able to describe a diagram consisting of a collection of shapes, some of them obtained by transforming (e.g. rotating, shearing, scaling, translating) other shapes, and then draw the whole thing using a consistent line width. It would be strange if, say, a large circle was drawn with a thicker line just because it happened to be generated by scaling a smaller circle. Diagrams are supposed to be scale-invariant but in actuality it would be surprising for them to be truly scale-invariant with regards to line width.

Another way of thinking about it is that we want to think of diagrams as 'abstract geometric entities' (e.g. perfect circles, etc.) with the details of how they are actually drawn being a separate issue.

...On the other hand, sometimes we really do want, say, scaling a diagram to scale the line width proportionally! It really depends on the situation.

Note that other things in addition to line width may have the same issue, e.g. patterns/textures like gradients, fill patterns, etc. (once we add support for those).

2 Solution #1: transformations always affect attributes

One possible "solution" is to say, in essence, "To heck with thinking of diagrams as abstract geometric entities; transformations will always transform attributes, period." This forces the user to place attribute annotations carefully in order to produce the desired behavior. For example, in order to produce a scene consisting of variously scaled shapes, all drawn with a consistent line width, the user must apply the line width attribute after doing all the requisite scaling.

Put more simply, the following snippets of code would produce different output:

 foo # scale 2 # lw 1
 foo # lw 1 # scale 2

This is certainly possible, but has some drawbacks. Most notable is that if a user obtains several diagrams, each of which has already had a line width applied to it, it may be practically impossible to assemble them into a single diagram with consistent-looking lines.

3 Solution #2: 'freeze'

Another solution (the one currently adopted by diagrams) is to have a primitive operation called freeze such that transformations normally do not affect attributes such as line width, but after applying freeze, they do. Intuitively, freeze can be thought of as taking a "snapshot" of the physical realization of a diagram, and from then on transformations apply to the realization/drawing rather than to the abstract geometric ideal underlying it.

For example, under this scheme

 foo # scale 2 # lw 1
 foo # lw 1 # scale 2

have the same meaning, but

 foo # lw 1 # freeze # scale 2

is different.

4 Semantics of 'freeze'

One issue is that some backends may not support the ability to do stroking in the context of some transformation (so that e.g. lines come out fatter in some places and thinner in others). It might be nice to define an alternate semantics defined in terms of, e.g. an "average scale factor" for a given transformation, which can be applied directly to the line width attribute itself. The issue would be coming up with a definition which is compositional.

However, cairo and SVG, at least, both support stroking within transformed contexts, so this hasn't become an issue yet.

5 Implementation of 'freeze'

freeze introduces quite a bit of difficulty into any backend implementation. The reason this is difficult is that some of the transformations should apply to styles and some shouldn't. But the transformations and styles occur in the tree all mixed up. (Also, transformations can affect some attributes!) The way we handled this in the past was to never give any transformations directly to a backend. We only gave fully transformed primitives. For example, the cairo backend's implementation of withStyle works by first performing the given rendering operation with no transformations in effect (since it is given fully transformed primitives), then it applies just the transformations occuring above freeze (the ones which should affect the line width and so on) before doing the actual stroking.

However, if we want to be able to apply transformations incrementally while walking down the tree this gets tricky. We can incrementally apply transformations occurring above freeze with no issues, but below a freeze things become problematic since the transformations should apply to primitives but not attributes.

Even just continuing to fully apply the transformations to primitives and allowing styles to be applied early would go a long way, I think. We could also do some work to coalesce styles. e.g. consider

 foo1 = hcat (map (fc blue . circle) [1,2,3,4,5])
 foo2 = hcat (map circle [1,2,3,4,5]) # fc blue

It would be nice if these actually generated the same output, i.e. the programmer didn't have to worry about making such changes to their code in order to "optimize" it.