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This block contains a set of classes to deal with text and typography in Cinder on Windows.

Built around the need to have multi-line, auto-wrapping text with inline styles, the block grew into a framework to load and define font sets, styles and parse very simple styled text.

The core text rendering code is based on Cinder's own TextLayout, but expands on layout, styling and caching functionality.

Built for and tested with Cinder v0.9.2 dev on Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. See notes below for setup instructions.

Windows only! StyledTextLayout uses Windows-only GDI+ and currently has no Linux/Mac support.

This block is compatible with and used by Cinder-BluecadetViews, which implements automatic rendering of text to textures in a scene-graph.

Key Features


  • Multi-line text layout with basic inline styling support
  • HTML tags: <b>, <i>, <br>, <p>
  • Configurable styles: fontFamily, fontStyle, fontWeight, fontSize, leadingOffset, textColor, textAlign, textTransform
  • Automatic word-wrapping and other layout modes (single line, strip line-breaks, multi-line clip, multi-line auto-wrap)
  • Full string and wstring support for all features
  • Layout-caching minimizes re-calculation of layout while maintaining ability to call methods like getSize() at any time
  • Ability to define a style from the StyleManager, which will be automatically applied to all text
  • Multiple convenience overloads to define invidual styles and properties


  • Load TTF font family defined on simple json
  • Define multiple weights and styles per family
  • Configurable auto-selection of closest font-weight (e.g. weight 500 is needed, but only 300 and 600 are available)


  • Loads basic styles from json
  • Styles are hierarchical and can inherit properties from their parent styles


  • Parses string and wstring
  • Outputs StyledText pairs of string (or wstring) combined with Styles
  • Supports nested styles and (and nested/inverted italics)


Getting Started

Basic StyledTextLayout Usage

StyledTextLayout can be used to render simple text out of the box. In order to parse styled text and bold/italic tags, styles and fonts for those font-weights/font-styles have to be defined (see following sections).

#include "bluecadet/text/StyledTextLayout.h"

// ...

auto textLayout = make_shared<StyledTextLayout>();
textLayout->setPadding(16.f, 8.f, 16.f, 8.f);
textLayout->setText("Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward.");

// ...

auto surface = textLayout->renderToSurface();
auto texture = gl::Texture::create(surface);

Font Weights and Styles

In order to display custom font weights and styles, you need to define a json file that points to local font files for each weight and style. Here's an example file:

    "fonts": {
        "OpenSans": {
                "normal": "OpenSans/OpenSans-Light.ttf",
                "italic": "OpenSans/OpenSans-LightItalic.ttf"
                "normal": "OpenSans/OpenSans-Regular.ttf",
                "italic": "OpenSans/OpenSans-Italic.ttf"
                "normal": "OpenSans/OpenSans-Semibold.ttf",
                "italic": "OpenSans/OpenSans-SemiboldItalic.ttf"
                "normal": "OpenSans/OpenSans-Bold.ttf",
                "italic": "OpenSans/OpenSans-BoldItalic.ttf"
            "700": {
                "normal": "OpenSans/OpenSans-ExtraBold.ttf",
                "italic": "OpenSans/OpenSans-ExtraBoldItalic.ttf"

And initializing the fonts is a single line using the FontManager. Instances of StyledTextLayout will use the font manager to load the appropriate fonts for a certain family, weight and style and the FontManager will determine which font is returned based on the json.

#include "bluecadet/text/FontManager.h"
#include "bluecadet/text/StyledTextLayout.h"

// setup


auto textLayout = make_shared<StyledTextLayout>();
textLayout->setText("Jaded <b><i>zombies</i> acted<br/>quaintly</b> but kept driving <i>their oxen</i>.");

// draw

auto surface = textLayout->renderToSurface();
auto texture = gl::Texture::create(surface);

Managing and Using Styles

Styles can be defined manually on each StyledTextLayout instance or globally in a json file using StyleManager.

Example styles.json

All styles defined in the root element (in this case styles) determine the base styles. Any child elements will inherit their parent's style and can overwrite individual properties (similar to the way SASS works).

    "styles": {
        "fontFamily": "OpenSans",
        "fontStyle": "normal",
        "fontWeight": 400,
        "fontSize": 16,
        "textAlign": "left",
        "textTransform": "none",
        "color": "#ffffff",
        "leadingOffset": 0,
        "title": {
            "fontWeight": 500,
            "fontSize": 48.0,
            "textAlign": "center",
            "title_left": {
                "textAlign": "left"
        "subtitle": {
            "fontSize": 24

This json can be loaded by the StyleManager and refered to later by any StyledTextLayout instance.

StyleManager::getInstance()->setup(getAssetPath("styles.json"), "styles");

auto textLayout = make_shared<StyledTextLayout>();
textLayout->setText("This will be styled as a title");

Known Issues

  • Leading and line-height calculations are currently tricky and limited by Windows' font APIs; Better line-height support is in the works
  • Convenience over performance: The main purpose of this block is convenience and flexibility with layouts. While certain optimizations like layout caching for existing runs and the ability to append text have been made, this block is not built for large amounts of text.

Future Wishlist

  • Switch to crossplatform renderer (e.g.
  • Abstract away text measurement and rendering to allow for any type of text lib/framework
  • Allow for nested styles within one StyledTextView using XML markup (e.g. "<body>And then he said: <quote>\"That's just nice\"</quote></body>"; could also just use HTML tags)
  • Better line-height calculations and override using multiples of font-size
  • Actual CSS or SASS support (instead of JSON)
  • Inline style support (<p style="color: #ff0000">not blue</p>)


Version 1.1.2

Based on Cinder v0.9.2 dev

Cinder setup instructions:

# Cinder dev
git clone --depth 1 --recursive

# Cinder 0.9.1 stable
# git clone -b v0.9.1 --depth 1 --recursive

# Bluecadet blocks + dependencies
cd Cinder/blocks
git clone


Cinder block for text rendering, layout, styling and font management




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