Flatland 2D Composition in Scenic

  • Project lead: emircan@google.com
  • Document authors: emircan@google.com, dworsham@google.com
  • Area(s): View system

Problem statement

Scenic currently provides graphics clients with a 3D API under the fuchsia.ui.gfx namespace (the "gfx api"). This API provides clients with a scene model like that in a video game or other 3D graphics program. Drawing order is handled by Z depth and opacity is handled via alpha blending based on depth (features like group opacity are impossible). Unfortunately the gfx API is no longer suitable for the demands being placed on Scenic, both from a product standpoint and a performance standpoint.

From the product standpoint, our current customers are fundamentally 2D products. There is no concept of depth and draw order is simply that -- the order that different batches of draw geometry are submitted in. Because there is no depth, transparency effects are also dictated by draw order and effects like group opacity are common. The "2D" products (via Flutter, Chromium, and session framework) have to do extra work to resolve the impedance mismatch between Scenic's 3D scene representation and the 2D representation experienced by the user.

From the performance standpoint, modern Video Display Controller (VDC) hardware provides acceleration features such as multiple display planes and hardware overlays that Scenic would like to leverage in the future to lower power consumption and GPU usage. The hardware operates in a strictly 2D paradigm however, and only understands rectangular layers that can be positioned in X/Y. Scenic's current 3D API allows and encourages clients to submit content that doesn't fit into this paradigm and frustrates optimization attempts.

Solution statement

The Flatland 2D API is a new client API currently in development by the Scenic team that seeks to address product and performance goals for graphics on Fuchsia by exposing display-controller-like functionality to clients. Clients may only submit 2D layers that are scaled and offset in X/Y.

This will lead to:

  • Scenic exposing a true 2D API that matches existing client expectations more closely.
  • Less GPU usage by delegating work to the VDC where possible.
  • A more lightweight Scenic optimized for 2D rectangular layers only.


Conversion of all existing Scenic clients, in-tree and out

Risks and mitigations

Risk: All clients in a product must be migrated atomically, because of user-input concerns

Mitigation: Config-data flags for enabling Flatland across RootPresenter, Flutter and Chrome so that enabling Flatland is non-disruptive and atomic

Mitigation: More complex input implementation in Scenic that allows clients to be migrated non-atomically (mixed gfx and flatland scene-graphs)

Mitigation: Will not implement group opacity functionality at first; save for later