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Thoughts on canvas compositing

From: Paul Bakaus <pbakaus@zynga.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 02:04:44 -0800
To: "public-canvas-api@w3.org" <public-canvas-api@w3.org>, "public-fx@w3.org" <public-fx@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C955DE4C.1C8B%pbakaus@zynga.com>
Hi everyone,

As you all know, Canvas still has a long way to go until the performance can match classical game/3D environments. This reason largely seems to be related to compositing (please correct me if wrong). Even if the GPU is largely handling all rendering through a 3D context (I.e. WebGL), the render still has to go through the usual mostly CPU intensive path of compositing to overlay or underlay layers of elements.

For this particular reason, I am proposing the addition of two features to the way Canvas works (I've included public-fx as this involves more than just the API):

- Introduce a new mime type for canvas (i.e. application/canvas) and make a canvas self hostable (like SVG, run example.canvas in your browser to get a full screen window wide canvas). This might introduce some challenges, like where the scripting goes. Maybe it still needs to be accompanied with a XML wrapper.

- Create an attribute similar to wmode or windowless mode in Flash to toggle compositing. By setting the attribute to true (defaults to false), The canvas will become non-transparent and overlay everything else on the page, regardless of the z-index.

The only issue I'm seeing is that the ability to overlay UI controls for various reasons, I.e. Game menus, would not be possible this way. The best possible implementation for us as game developers would be a mix of both  allow overlaying elements on top of the canvas, but simply ignore transparency on element backgrounds that overlap the canvas, which might still improve the compositing.

I would love to hear thoughts, possibly also from people who are working on compositing directly, to see if my assumptions are correct or if there are other important bottlenecks.

Paul Bakaus
Chief Technology Officer
Zynga Germany
Received on Sunday, 16 January 2011 21:09:31 GMT

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