D GUI Framework (responsive grid teaser)
Ola Fosheim Grøstad
ola.fosheim.grostad at gmail.com
Thu May 23 06:05:06 UTC 2019
On Thursday, 23 May 2019 at 00:23:50 UTC, Manu wrote:
> it's really just a style
> of software design that lends to efficiency.
> Our servers don't draw anything!
Then it isn't specific to games, or particularly relevant to
rendering. Might as well talk about people writing search engines
or machine learning code.
> Minimising wasted calculation is always relevant. If you don't
> change part of an image, then you'd better have the tech to
> skip rendering it (or skip transmitting it in this scenario),
> otherwise you're wasting resources like a boss ;)
Well, it all depends on your priorities. The core difference is
that (at least for the desktop) a game rendering engine can focus
on 0% overhead for the most demanding scenes, while 40% overhead
on light scenes has no impact on the game experience. Granted for
mobile engines then battery life might change that equation,
though I am not sure if gamers would notice a 20% difference in
For a desktop application you might instead decide to favour 50%
GPU overhead across the board as a trade off for a more flexible
API that saves application programmer hours and freeing up CPU
time to processing application data. (If your application only
uses 10% of the GPU, then going to 15% is a low price to pay.)
> I don't think you know what you're talking about.
Let's avoid the ad hominems… I know what I am talking about, but
perhaps I don't know what you are talking about? I thought you
were talking about the rendering engines used in games, not
software engineering as a discipline.
> I don't think we 'cut corners' (I'm not sure what that even
What is means is that in a game you have a negotiation between
the application design requirements and the technology
requirements. You can change the game design to take advantage of
the technology and change the technology to accommodate the game
design. Visual quality only matters as seen from the particular
vantage points that the gamer will take in that particular game
or type of game.
When creating a generic GUI API you cannot really assume too
much. Let's say you added ray-traced widgets. It would make
little sense to say that you can only have 10 ray-traced widgets
on display at the same time for a GUI API. In a game that is
completely acceptable. You'd rather have the ability to put some
extra impressive visuals on screen in a limited fashion where it
matters the most.
So the priorities is more like in film production. You can pay a
price in terms of technological special casing to create a more
intense emotional experience. You can limit your focus to what
the user is supposed to do (both end user and application
programmer) and give priority to "emotional impact". And you also
have the ability to train a limited set of workers (programmers)
to make good use of the novelty of your technology.
When dealing with unknown application programmers writing unknown
applications you have to be more conservative.
> patterns. You won't tend to have OO hierarchies and sparsely
> graphs, and you will naturally tend to arrange data in tables
> for batch processing. These are key to software efficiency in
If you are talking about something that isn't available to the
application programmer then that is fine. For a GUI framework the
most important thing after providing a decent UI experience is to
make the application programmers life easier and more intuitive.
Basically, your goal is to save programmer hours and make it easy
to change direction due to changing requirements. If OO
hierarchies is more intuitive to the typical application
programmers, then that is what you should use at the API level.
If your write your own internal GUI framework then you have a
different trade-off, you might put more of a burden on the
application developer in order to make better overall use of your
workforce. Or you might limit the scope of the GUI framework to
getter better end-user results.
> 'Object hierarchy' is precisely where it tends to go wrong.
> There are a million ways to approach this problem space; some
> are naturally much more efficient, some rather follow design
> pattern books and propagate ideas taught in university to kids.
You presume that efficiency is a problem. That's not necessarily
the case. If your framework is for embedded LCDs then you are
perhaps limited to under 500 objects on screen anyway.
I also know that Open Inventor (from SGI) and VRML made people
more productive. It allowed people to create experiences that
they otherwise would not have been able to, both in industrial
prototypes and artistic works.
Overhead isn't necessarily bad. A design with some overhead might
cut the costs enough for the application developer to make a
project feasible. Or even make it accessible for tinkering. You
see the same thing with the Processing language.
> Sure, maybe that's a reasonable design. Maybe you can go a step
> further and transform your arrangement a 'hierarchy'? Data
> structures are everything.
In the early stages it is most important to have freedom to
change things, but with an idea of where you could insert spatial
data-structures. Having a plan for where you can place
accelerating data-structures and algorithms do matter, of course.
But you don't need to start there. So I think he is doing well by
keeping rendering simple in the first iterations.
> Right. I only advocate good software engineering!
> But when I look around, the only field I can see that's doing a
> really good job at scale is gamedev. Some libs here and there
> enclose some tight worker code, but nothing much at the
> systemic level.
It is a bit problematic for generic libraries to use worker code
(I assume you mean actors running on separate threads) as you put
some serious requirements on the architecture of the application.
More actor-oriented languages and run-times could make it
pleasant though, so maybe an infrastructure issue where
programming languages need to evolve. But you could for a GUI
Although I think the rendering structure used in browser
graphical backends is closer to what people would want for an UI
than a typical game rendering engine. Especially the styling
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