Your browser (Internet Explorer 6) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.
X
Text Layouting Status Report

# Text Layouting Status Report

So, it took me two weeks to finally get around to a status report, and Peter even had to request it forcefully. But I have not been idle in this time. Let's see.

## Pango? Harfbuzz? SDL_TTF!

I spent quite some time investigating Pango and Harfbuzz, I blogged about it in my previous post. I knew back then already that Pango was not ideal and that even Wesnoth was not using Pango for their fancy help rendering (they use if for some other types of text though). I then investigated Harfbuzz further and though it seems like it will one day become what we need, it is not there. In fact, it does not even have a stable version currently released. It can handle international text pretty well, but it does not help in the left-to-right, top-to-bottom rendering of text, nor with the breaking of text into paragraphs.

So we are back to square one: The old-and-trusted SDL_TTF. I designed my code around SDL as graphics engine, the text rendering is kinda plugged in and uses SDL_TTF, but it should be easy to replace this with any other text engine when one establishes itself as the one - be it Pango or Harfbuzz or anything else in the future.

## What works?

I just finished my initial implementation of the engine - It has all the feature that Venatrix and myself have marked as desirable. Some of the feature (like tables) are rather rudimentary, but I think it should be enough for us. The whole engine is currently a stand alone library - in the next step, I will plug it into the Widelands code.

But let's move on to pretty pictures. Here are some examples.

<rt>
<p align=center>
<font size=30 color=F2DF91 underline=true>This is a heading</font>
</p>
<vspace gap=2>
<p><img src="wl-ico-128.png"></p>
<p align=center>
<font size=10>This is the subtext for the image. Kinda like a
caption.</font>
</p>
</sub>
<p indent=5>
<font color=FEFE00 size=14>
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, <font
italic=true ref="hyperlink">sed diam nonumy</font> eirmod tempor <font
underline=1 ref="somereference">invidunt ut labore et</font> dolore
magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo
<font bold=true>duo dolores et ea rebum</font>. Stet clita kasd
gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.
</font>
</p>
</sub>
</sub>
</rt>


This code renders to the following picture:

This already shows off some of the features: changing fonts inside a paragraph, sub layouts that can float inside the text. Margins and paddings for some elements (though this is not as fully featured as in HTML) and of course images. It also contains a ref attribute for a font tag which makes this part of the text clickable. This will make hyperlinks in the help possible.

Tables are kinda possible as well:

<rt>
<sub width=10></sub><sub width=240>
<p>
<sub width=80 background=638c57><p>Hello</p></sub><space><sub
width=80 background=42deb7><p>Nice</p></sub><space><sub
width=80 background=43f447><p>World</p></sub>
<br>

<sub width=80 background=404542 valign=center><p
align=center>Upsy</p></sub><space><sub
width=80 background=e21038><p>And more</p></sub><space><sub
width=80 background=0c7e8f valign=center><p>Thats all</p></sub>
<br>

</p>
</sub>
</rt>


Each row is a set of three fixed width cells separated by a <space> tag which expands as needed (in this case not at all). The lines are separated by a linebreak tag <br>. This kinda results in a table with fixed column count and width. Good enough for Widelands I hope:

Bullet point lists are possible as well:

<rt>
<p><font size=20 underline=1>A bullet list</font></p>
<p>
<sub valign=top><p><space fill=" "><img
src=bullet.png></p></sub><sub width=450>
<p>
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy
eirmod tempor.
</p>
</sub>

<sub valign=top><p><space fill=" "><img
src=bullet.png></p></sub><sub width=450>
<p>
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy
eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam
voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet
clita kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit
amet.
</p>
</sub>

<sub valign=top><p><space fill=" "><img
src=bullet.png></p></sub><sub width=450>
<p>
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy
eirmod tempor.
</p>
</sub>
</p>

</sub>
</rt>


This uses a lot of sub layouts to achieve the desired result. It does not read very nice, but which markup does? I plan to hide this all in some Lua functions, just as we are already doing for scenarios to make it all nice to use as well. This wall of text renders as

## What's next?

The next step is to integrate this layout engine into Widelands. Caching will be really important here, because rendering with SDL_TTF is very slow. I feel that the technical challenges of getting this engine on board will be surmountable, the one thing I am really not looking forward to is changing all rich texts that we already have to work with the new engine. Especially the hard coded texts inside the source, the files in txts/ and the early campaigns (barbarians and empire) will be a lot of tedious work. I hope some people hop on board to help me out with that.

Soo, expect a branch with this engine soonish on launchpad.