GNUstep QuartzCore, an implementation of the Core Animation APIs intended for use with GNUstep
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.
CAAppKitBridge Recursively create layers; create renderer and GL context on the root… Jul 10, 2018
Demo Partially address build problems for QuartzCoreDemo on Mac with GSQua… May 6, 2018
Documentation Reorganized the folder based on folder layout of dbuskit. May 6, 2012
GSQuartzCore.xcodeproj Moved demo to OS X. Fixed bug that broke perspective-transformed layers. Aug 20, 2012
Headers/QuartzCore Fix failing build by adding CGFloat _contentsScale ivar. (#3) Jun 14, 2018
Mac Working implicit animations. Interpolation of CGRect. Some more small… Jul 9, 2012
Source Fixes for borderColor and contentsScale from pull request #2. Jun 7, 2018
Tests Updating test applications to use nextFrameTime. Aug 21, 2015
.hgignore Various fixes, mostly for GCC, as reported by Fred Kiefer. Aug 20, 2012
COPYING Reorganized the folder based on folder layout of dbuskit. May 6, 2012
ChangeLog Recursively create layers; create renderer and GL context on the root… Jul 10, 2018
GNUmakefile Bugfixes, typo fixes and some work on a demo. Aug 20, 2012
GNUmakefile.postamble Reorganized the folder based on folder layout of dbuskit. May 6, 2012
GNUmakefile.preamble Reorganized the folder based on folder layout of dbuskit. May 6, 2012
INSTALL Added basic documentation in form of README and INSTALL Aug 20, 2012
INSTALL.markdown Added basic documentation in form of README and INSTALL Aug 20, 2012
README Added basic documentation in form of README and INSTALL Aug 20, 2012
README.markdown Added 3d animation, title and buttons into the demo. Aug 20, 2012
config.make Began work on a basic test. Added previously missing GNUmakefile and … May 14, 2012
opal-nsfonthacks.patch Wrote a new test that makes use of Opal to paint an image as an OpenG… Jun 3, 2012



This is GNUstep QuartzCore, an implementation of the Core Animation APIs intended for use with GNUstep. It's implemented in Objective-C and C.

Current codebase was written as part of Google Summer of Code 2012 by Ivan Vučica.


Last updated: August 20, 2012

  • Foundation. You can use GNUstep Base or Apple Cocoa to get Foundation.
  • AppKit. You can use GNUstep GUI or Apple Cocoa to get AppKit.
  • OpenGL 2.0. Code makes use of framebuffers for offscreen rendering and of fragment shaders for shadows. By manually removing blocks of code that require framebuffers and shaders, it's probably possible to run the code on OpenGL any 1.1+ GPU. OpenGL ES 1.1 was previously supported, and will be supported again in the future along with ES 2.0.
  • Objective-C 2.0-supporting compiler. Code has been tested with clang 3.0, but it should in theory be possible to compile it with GCC 4.6+. This is primarily because it makes extensive use of the @property and @synthesize keywords, and (in the future) of @dynamic.
  • libobjc2. While it may be possible to use the code with stock GCC runtime, the "new" GNUstep runtime is the only runtime code is being tested with. If you use Cocoa, Apple's "64-bit runtime" is also supported.
  • Patched Opal. Opal currently conflicts with AppKit. More specifically, it also implements an incompatible NSFont. An experimental patch is provided against r35173 of Opal in opal-nsfonthacks.patch.
    • Opal requires Cairo and may require corebase.

API status

Last updated: August 20, 2012

Following is a list of implemented features, and more importantly, not implemented features, in no particular order. List is woefully incomplete, but it should give an idea on what is the current status of the implementation.

  • CALayer: The only supported layer type.

    • Supports shadows, but ignores shadowRadius and shadowPath.
    • Does not support masking.
    • Does not support -convert* methods for conversion of geometry. Time conversion is supported.
    • Supports backgroundColor.
    • Supports setting contents to CGImageRef.
    • Supports painting into contents via a delegate.
    • Supports transforms and sublayer transforms.
    • Partial support for offscreen rendering triggered by shadowOpacity > 0 or shouldRasterize == YES. Texture is currently always 512x512, so your total layer contents in its local coordinate system need to be at most of that size.
    • Implicit animations are implemented via KVO.
    • Dynamic properties created by subclasses are currently not supported.
    • presentationLayer is created during update triggered by a call to -[CARenderer beginFrameAtTime:timeStamp:
    • Setting contents is not animated, since currently there is no support for CATransitions.
    • Hosting CGImageRefs with indexed colorspace, or any other aside from RGBA, is not supported.
    • No support for layouts
    • No support for autoresizing
    • frame property is unsupported.
  • CABasicAnimation: The only supported animation type.

    • fromValue and toValue must be of the same type.
    • Handles number types, CGPoints, NSPoints, NSRects, CGRects, CGColorRefs.
    • Does not support fillMode.
    • toValue is allowed to be nil, in which case it will be picked up from the layer's associated modelLayer.
    • fromValue is allowed to be nil, in which case CALayer will set it to presentationLayer's value when it notices it is nil.
    • byValue is not supported.
    • Timing functions are supported.
    • Value functions are not supported at this time.
    • Animating a CATransform3D with a scale component is broken.
  • CARenderer: The only supported way of rendering. This means layers cannot be hosted in an NSView at this time.

    • timeStamp argument in -[CARenderer beginFrameAtTime:timeStamp:] is ignored.
    • In place of -[CARenderer rendererWithCGLContext:options:, currently only -[CARenderer rendererWithNSOpenGLContext:options: is provided. This is because of lack of CoreGL implementation on non-Apple platforms.
  • CAMediaTimingFunction: Implementation is considered complete. It could use performance improvements and mathematical double-checking to the evaluation function, but otherwise this works.

  • CATransaction: Complete for the most part. Used in implementation of implicit animations. Currently, the implicit transaction is not flushed nor created via CFRunLoopObservers since GNUstep lacks them.

View-hosted layers

Last updated: August 20, 2012

Currently, there is no support for view-hosted layers. This can probably be implemented as a category on NSView, aside from an i-var for storing the layer (and perhaps CARenderer and a timer). It should be possible to attach an NSOpenGLContext to any view.

Relationship to Opal

Last updated: August 20, 2012

Due to large dependency of Core Animation and QuartzCore on Core Graphics, implemented in GNUstep by Opal, code depends in large part on Opal and its correct functioning. This means a few things need to be considered when using Opal correctly.

Note that this is the state of the code at the time of writing of this readme. Some problems may be resolved by the time you're reading this.

  • Conflicts between AppKit and Opal: Surprisingly, Opal conflicts with AppKit. This is primarily in a single class: NSFont, which Opal also implements. Since QuartzCore currently also depends on AppKit due to its use of NSOpenGLContext -- otherwise it doesn't care about the UI framework used -- an experimental patch is provided. See opal-nsfonthacks.patch.

  • Opal sometimes returns 3 color components instead of 4: Simply setting the alpha to 1 in that case seems to work correctly.

  • Opal's bitmap contexts are picky: Number of supported argument combinations is somewhat small, and in some cases apparently buggy. For example, kCGImageAlphaPremultipliedLast is unsupported, but kCGImageAlphaPremultipliedFirst provides RGBA instead of ARGB. Also, colorspace created with CGColorSpaceCreateDeviceRGB() will not function, but CGColorSpaceCreateWithName(kCGColorSpaceGenericRGB) will do just fine.

    This, naturally, does not matter to you as long as you use contexts provided by CALayer to your delegate or subclass.

  • Opal's CGImage loading code may fail: You may have to provide a hint on which image format you're feeding into Opal in the options argument of the CGImageSource.

  • QuartzCore supports only RGBA colors: Wherever you are tempted to use another colorspace or RGB without the alpha -- well, don't, at least if the data will be fed into QuartzCore. Whatever Opal and Cocoa Core Graphics may support, note that QuartzCore is currently only tested with RGBA colorspace. That means, no greyscale, no indexed colors, and no CMYK.

How to use

Last updated: August 20, 2012

It's recommended that you take a look at the existing code in Tests/ and other online resources. This will be a quick overview of how to use the currently available classes to spice up your application with a few effects.

Basic rendering

Core Animation is most commonly used under OS X and iOS. Under OS X, a view can be "layer-backed"; that is, an NSView can host a layer. Either a layer is provided by a view, or it's manually set in a view; alternatively, it can also be added as a sublayer of another layer (for example, a view-hosted layer). You typically turn on layer-backing by calling [view setWantsLayer:YES];. Under iOS, a layer hierarchy is magically provided by the framework, and views exist only to provide layer content and handle events. Once again, we can add our own sublayers to a particular layer, without simultaneously creating a new view.

Under GNUstep, we currently have neither of these most commonly used ways to access Core Animation. Instead, we create our own layer hierarchy from the root downwards, and paint it inside an OpenGL context we also created. This method of rendering using CARenderer is also available under OS X. Primary difference is that the low-level Core GL context is not available under GNUstep. Instead, we use AppKit's NSOpenGLContext (hence creating our dependency on AppKit).

Creating an NSOpenGLContext (and NSOpenGLView, if you want one) is already well documented. The easiest way is creation of NSOpenGLView and adding it into the view hierarchy. It's created the same way an NSView is. It's possible to subclass NSOpenGLView. Initialization code can be placed in subclass's override of -prepareOpenGL. (Don't forget to call superclass's implementation, though!) We place it there because we want to be sure that OpenGL is initialized by the time we create any Core Animation objects.

First thing we do during initialization is creation of a CARenderer object. We also retain it in an i-var. Note that since this code is placed inside an NSOpenGLView subclass, self refers to an instance of an NSOpenGLView subclass.

_renderer = [CARenderer rendererWithNSOpenGLContext: [self openGLContext]
                                            options: nil];
[_renderer retain];

A renderer needs a root layer. Let's create one.

CALayer * layer = [CALayer layer];
[_renderer setLayer: layer];

Layer needs some setup. We'll keep it slightly smaller than the OpenGL view. At the same time, we'll inform the renderer that the viewport it will be rendering into is the same size as the OpenGL view. Background color is a CGColor object, created using a Core Graphics method.

[_renderer setBounds: NSRectToCGRect([self bounds])];
[layer setBounds: CGRectMake(0, 0,
                             [self frame].size.width*0.7, 
                             [self frame].size.height*0.7)];
CGColorRef yellowColor = CGColorCreateGenericRGB(1, 1, 0, 1);
[layer setBackgroundColor: yellowColor];

Let's provide the layer with an opportunity to render some content by providing a delegate. First we must implement the delegate class. While we may determine the size in another way, e.g. via clipping area of the CGContext, we'll simplify things by simply telling the delegate how large the content it draws should be.

@interface TheGreatDelegate : NSObject
  CGSize _size;
@property (assign) CGSize size;
- (void) drawLayer: (CALayer *)layer inContext: (CGContextRef) context;
@implementation TheGreatDelegate
@synthesize size=_size;
- (void) drawLayer: (CALayer *)layer inContext: (CGContextRef) context;
  float width = [self size].width;
  float height = [self size].height;
  /* Draw some content into the context */
  CGRect rect = CGRectMake(50, 50, width/2.0, height/2.0);
  CGContextSetRGBStrokeColor(context, 0, 0, 1, 1);
  CGContextSetRGBFillColor(context, 1, 0, 0, 1);
  CGContextSetLineWidth(context, 4.0);
  CGContextStrokeRect(context, rect);
  CGContextFillRect(context, rect);

// ... back in -prepareOpenGL

TheGreatDelegate * delegate = [TheGreatDelegate new];
[layer setDelegate: delegate];
// We need to release the delegate ourselves at a later time.
// As usual with delegates, this one is not retained by its owner
// either.

Whenever we want a request to be sent to the delegate for painting content, we need to inform the layer to do so via -setNeedsDisplay. We'll do so after setting the delegate.

[layer setNeedsDisplay];

(This would not be necessary if image was set as the layer contents.)

That's about it! We still need to do a few things before leaving -prepareOpenGL, however, such as clearing out the render area. We want to do this because this might be the last time we'll do it. We don't need to clear the contents of the OpenGL viewport before drawing every frame. In fact, we don't want to, because CGRenderer may in the future be intelligent enough to tell us which area will be redrawn. (Cocoa's renderer already does so.) Also, even now we don't want to clear the entire viewport before each frame, because CGRenderer can already determine if it needs to redraw or not.

So let's clear out the viewport.

glViewport(0, 0, [self frame].size.width, [self frame].size.height);

Let's also set a timer. We'll have it autorepeat 60 times per second. While in the future it may be possible to further optimize the rendering via -[CARenderer nextFrameTime], it currently is not possible because there is no API for notifying the main app code about changes to nextFrameTime value.

_timer = [NSTimer scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval: 1./60
                                          target: self
                                        selector: @selector(timerAnimation:)
                                        userInfo: nil
                                         repeats: YES];

(You could separate this into -startAnimation, and timer invalidation into -stopAnimation.)

That's it for -prepareOpenGL! There is no need to release the layer, since it's autoreleased already. If you wanted to keep it in an i-var, you may want to retain it. (But strictly speaking, it's not necessary, since the renderer will retain it for you.) what about releasing the delegate? You'll want to save the delegate in an i-var and release it in your subclass's -dealloc. Or if you like messy code, just pull it out by using [[_renderer layer] delegate] in -dealloc and release it that way without using an i-var.

So let's implement our timerAnimation: - the actual rendering code. It's constantly repeating because that's the way we will achieve animation: by allowing CARenderer a chance to paint the updated layer hierarchy with applied animations (advanced for the animation step, as calculated from the value of current time from CACurrentMediaTime()).

- (void) timerAnimation: (NSTimer *)aTimer
  [[self openGLContext] makeCurrentContext];
  glViewport(0, 0, [self frame].size.width, [self frame].size.height);

  glOrtho(0, [self frame].size.width, 0, [self frame].size.height, -1, 1);

  /* */
  [_renderer beginFrameAtTime: CACurrentMediaTime()
                    timeStamp: NULL];
  [self clearBounds: [_renderer updateBounds]];
  [_renderer render];
  [_renderer endFrame];
  /* */
  [[self openGLContext] flushBuffer];

CARenderer expects most of OpenGL to be in the default state, except for the projection matrix (which should be set to an ortographic projection with renderer's bounds rectangle) and the viewport (also set to renderer's bounds rectangle).

We need to begin rendering the frame and pass the current media time. timeStamp can be NULL (and should be, since we currently don't support Core Video). In GNUstep implementation, this line also executes the animations and thus updates the presentationLayer, making possible for animations to occur at all.

Then we can clear the background behind the area that the renderer will paint into, let the renderer execute its painting code, and finally end the frame, allowing the renderer to clean any mess it may have left behind. At this point, OpenGL should be in the same state you were supposed to leave it in before calling -render: everything default, except projection matrix and the viewport. If anything is not at the default state, send a bug report. The only thing that can be non-default is the existence of texture, framebuffer and shader objects, or any such OpenGL object. (Caching is good!)

What about clearBounds:?

clearBounds: simply paints a black quad (the same color as the background, so it looks like it's clearing out the existing contents).

- (void)clearBounds:(CGRect)bounds
  glVertex2f(bounds.origin.x, bounds.origin.y);
  glVertex2f(bounds.origin.x+bounds.size.width, bounds.origin.y);
  glVertex2f(bounds.origin.x+bounds.size.width, bounds.origin.y+bounds.size.height);
  glVertex2f(bounds.origin.x, bounds.origin.y+bounds.size.height);

(Yes, glBegin()/glEnd() code written in 2012 or later. Does it matter? :-)

Sublayers and animation

First let's add a sublayer. Let's go back to -prepareOpenGL.

CGColorRef greenColor = CGColorCreateGenericRGB(0, 1, 0, 1);
CALayer * layer2 = [CALayer layer];
[layer2 setDelegate: delegate];
[layer2 setBounds: CGRectMake (0, 0, 100, 100)];
[layer2 setBackgroundColor: greenColor];
[layer2 setNeedsDisplay];
[layer addSublayer: layer2];

_layer = [layer retain];
_layer2 = [layer2 retain];

We're reusing the old delegate. It'll use the same size to draw layer2's contents, but it doesn't matter as long as we see some content.

Also, note that we're using two new i-vars: _layer and _layer2. This is because we'll be referring to our layers somewhere in the user interface handling code. (You do know how to add the i-vars, right?)

Now you'll want to create some sort of a user interface that user can interact with to trigger the animation. You can add a menu with two menu items, or you can add two buttons; the choice is yours.

Now let's take a look at the two ways to create an animation.

- (IBAction) animation1: (id)sender
  CABasicAnimation *animation = 
    [CABasicAnimation animationWithKeyPath:@"position"];
  [animation setRemovesOnCompletion: YES];
  [animation setFromValue: 
    [[layer2 presentationLayer] valueForKeyPath:@"position]];
  [animation setToValue: 
    [NSValue valueWithPoint: NSMakePoint(50, 50)]];
  [animation setDuration: 0.25];
  [animation setTimingFunction: [CAMediaTimingFunction 
    functionWithName: kCAMediaTimingFunctionDefault]];
  [_layer2 addAnimation: animation forKey: @"someKey"];

First line creates a so-called 'basic animation', the one that has a single from-value and a single to-value (as opposed to a keyframe animation which has multiple values). It'll be affecting the position key path of whatever layer it is attached to.

Next line makes sure the animation gets removed from the layer upon completion. You'll want to do this, since the animations created this way don't affect actual position value of the object, but instead the value that is displayed on screen.

How is that possible? Next line offers some insight. Every model layer has an associated presentation layer; every presentation layer has an associated model layer. For the fromValue, we'll take whatever is currently presented on screen. This is also the default behavior in case fromValue is nil.

toValue would behave the other way around; it'd take the model layer value and fill itself with it in. But in our case, we're filling the position with a point NSValue. You may be wondering how come we're filling the position with an NSPoint instead of a CGPoint. This is because although internally Core Animation works with CGPoints, it also supports NSPoint values. If that line doesn't work, try this one (and report the issue):

CGPoint pt = CGPointMake(50, 50);
[animation setToValue: [NSValue valueWithBytes: &pt
                                      objCType: @encode(CGPoint)]];

Next line sets the duration. This is the default value of 0.25, that would ordinarily be picked up from the nearest CATransaction. (Yes, there is an implicitly created transaction, especially needed for implicitly created animations.)

Timing function would also be picked up from the transaction, except the default value is nil. And nil is not the same as the object identified with kCAMediaTimingFunctionDefault; nil means a linear progression of time in the specified animation, while ...Default behaves the same way various animations on iOS devices do. (Take a closer look, and look online for a graph that displays progression of this timing function -- it's a bezier curve that starts fast and slows down, but not in the same way ...EaseOut slows down.) Try skipping this line to see what happens. Also, try setting nil and seeing what happens.

Finally, we need to attach the animation to our smaller layer, the sublayer. When we do this, as soon as the next frame starts rendering, we'll see the animation taking effect.

The sublayer will appear to jump to its starting position... except it's not actually jumping back. It was always there! The animation was affecting the presentation layer, and as soon as the animation ended, so did its effect upon the layer.

Implicit animation

That was all nice, but how about simply telling an object to move to the new position and observing it animate there?

As you can guess, the layer will actually jump there immediately. What will actually make it appear to slowly go there is an animation that will be implicitly attached to it.

- (IBAction) animation2: (id)sender
  static BOOL toggle = NO;
  if (!toggle)
    [layer2 setPosition: CGPointMake(50, 50)];
    [layer2 setPosition: CGPointMake(0, 0)];
  toggle = !toggle;

That's it! It would be a one-liner if we didn't want to be able to actually go back to the original position.

Complex animation

What about something crazier -- like having two animations applied to a layer at once?

CABasicAnimation * animation = [CABasicAnimation
[animation setFromValue: [NSValue valueWithCATransform3D: 
  [_layer2 transform]]];
[animation setToValue: [NSValue valueWithCATransform3D:
   CATransform3DTranslate(CATransform3DRotate([_layer2 transform],
   M_PI, 0, 0, 1), -150, 0, 0)]];
[animation setDuration: 2];
[animation setAutoreverses: YES];
[_layer2 addAnimation: animation forKey: @"doABarrelRoll"];

CABasicAnimation * opacity = [CABasicAnimation
[opacity setFromValue: [NSNumber numberWithFloat: [_layer2 opacity]]];
[opacity setToValue: [NSNumber numberWithFloat: 0.5]];
[opacity setDuration: 2];
[opacity setAutoreverses: YES];
[_layer2 addAnimation: opacity forKey: @"pulse"];

This attaches two animations that also automatically reverse to their initial value. One of the animations is affecting the 4x4 transformation matrix that transforms the layer in 3D space, in our case by translating it and rotating it.

What next?

Take a look at Tests/ subdirectory, particularly at the hello_animation.m, hello_carenderer.m and offscreen_render.m demos. Also, look online for more Core Animation and Core Graphics examples. There are also some awesome books about these subjects; look around for them. Apple's documentation is also nice for understanding what's happening.

There are many parts of the implementation that are still missing. If you you can contribute, please look at the procedure for assigning copyright to the Free Software Foundation (a requirement for contributing to a GNU project); it comes down to signing an agreement and sending it via snail mail to FSF.