cc/animation provides animation support - generating output values (usually visual properties) based on a predefined function and changing input values. Currently the main clients of cc/animation are Blink and ui/, targeting composited layers, but the code is intended to be agnostic of the client it is supporting. Aspirationally we could eventually merge cc/animation and Blink animation and have only a single animation system for all of Chromium.
This document covers two main topics. The first section explains how cc/animation actually works: how animations are ticked, what animation curves are, what the ownership model is, etc. Later sections document how other parts of Chromium interact with cc/animation, most prominently Blink and ui/.
The root concept in cc/animation is an animation. Animations contain the state necessary to ‘play’ (interpolate values from) an animation curve, which is a function that returns a value given an input time. Aside from the animation curve itself, an animation's state includes the run state (playing, paused, etc), the start time, the current direction (forwards, reverse), etc. An animation does not know or care what property is being animated, and holds only an opaque identifier for the property to allow clients to map output values to the correct properties.
Targeting only a single property means that cc animations are distinct from the Blink concept of an animation, which wraps the animation of multiple properties. To coordinate the playback of multiple cc/animations (e.g. those that are animating multiple properties on the same target), animations have the concept of a group identifier. Animations that have the same group identifier and the same target are started together, and animation-finished notifications are only sent when all animations in the group have finished.
Animations are grouped together based on their animation target (the entity whose property is being animated) and each such group is owned by an animation player. Note that there may be multiple animation players with the same target (each with a set of animations for that target); the ElementAnimations class wraps the multiple animation players and has a 1:1 relationship with target entities.
TODO(smcgruer): Why are ElementAnimations and AnimationPlayers separate?
In order to play an animation, input time values must be provided to the animation curve and output values fed back into the animating entity. This is called ‘ticking’ an animation and is the responsibility of the animation host. The animation host has a list of currently ticking players (i.e. those that have any non-deleted animations), which it iterates through whenever it receives a tick call from the client (along with a corresponding input time). The animation players then call into their non-deleted animations, retrieving the value from the animation curve. As they are computed, output values are sent to the target which is responsible for passing them to the client entity that is being animated.
As noted above, an animation curve is simply a function which converts an input time value into some output value. Animation curves are categorized based on their output type, and each such category can have multiple implementations that provide different conversion functions. There are many categories of animation curve, but some common ones are
The most common implementation of the various animation curve categories are the keyframed animation curves. These curves each have a set of keyframes which map a specific time to a specific output value. Producing an output value for a given input time is then a matter of identifying the two keyframes the time lies between, and interpolating between the keyframe output values. (Or simply using a keyframe output value directly, if the input time happens to line up exactly.) Exact details of how each animation curve category is interpolated can be found in the implementations.
There is one category of animation curve that stands somewhat apart, the scroll offset animation curve. This curve converts the input time into a scroll offset, interpolating between an initial scroll offset and an updateable target scroll offset. It has logic to handle different types of scrolling such as programmatic, keyboard, and mouse wheel scrolls.
cc/animation has a concept of an animation timeline. This should not be confused with the identically named Blink concept. In cc/animation, animation timelines are an implementation detail - they hold the animation players and are responsible for syncing them to the impl thread (see below), but do not participate in the ticking process in any way.
One part of cc/animation that is not client agnostic is its support for the Chromium compositor thread. Most of the cc/animation classes have a
PushPropertiesTo method, in which they synchronize necessary state from the main thread to the impl thread. It is feasible that such support could be abstracted if necessary, but so far it has not been required.
As noted above, the main clients of cc/animation are currently Blink for accelerated web animations, and ui/ for accelerated user interface animations. Both of these clients utilize cc::Layer as their animation entity and interact with cc/animation via the MutatorHostClient interface (which is implemented by cc::LayerTreeHost and cc::LayerTreeHostImpl). Recently a third client, chrome/browser/vr/, has started using cc/animations as well. The vr/ client does not use cc::Layer as its animation entity.
TODO(smcgruer): Summarize how vr/ uses cc/animation.
As cc::Layers are just textures which are reused for performance, clients that use composited layers as their animation entities are limited to animating properties that do not cause content to be redrawn. For example, a composited layer's opacity can be animated as promoted layers are aware of the content behind them. On the other hand we cannot animate layer width as changing the width could modify layout - which then requires redrawing.
Blink is able to move compatible animations off the main thread, by promoting the animating element into a layer. This section gives an overview of the machinery to move animations to the compositor from Blink. It does not go into details on the Blink-side of animations.
TODO(smcgruer): Write this.
TODO(smcgruer): Write this.
The Compositor Property Trees talk slides includes discussion on compositor animations.
Smooth scrolling is implemented via animations. See also references to “scroll offset” animations in the cc code base. Smooth Scrolling in Chromium provides an overview of smooth scrolling. There is further class header documentation in Blink's platform/scroll directory.