Platform paint code

This directory contains the implementation of display lists and display list-based painting, except for code which requires knowledge of core/ concepts, such as DOM elements and layout objects.

For information about how the display list and paint property trees are generated, see the core paint README file.

This code is owned by the rendering team.

Paint artifact

The CompositeAfterPaint paint artifact consists of a list of display items in paint order (ideally mostly or all drawings), partitioned into paint chunks which define certain paint properties which affect how the content should be drawn or composited.

Paint properties

Paint properties define characteristics of how a paint chunk should be drawn, such as the transform it should be drawn with. To enable efficient updates, a chunk's paint properties are described hierarchically. For instance, each chunk is associated with a transform node, whose matrix should be multiplied by its ancestor transform nodes in order to compute the final transformation matrix to the screen.

See ObjectPaintProperties for description of all paint properties that we create for a LayoutObject.

Paint properties are represented by four paint property trees (transform, clip, effect and scroll) each of which contains corresponding type of paint property nodes. Each paint property node has a pointer to the parent node. The parent node pointers link the paint property nodes in a tree.


Each paint chunk is associated with a transform node, which defines the coordinate space in which the content should be painted.

Each transform node has:

  • a 4x4 TransformationMatrix
  • a 3-dimensional transform origin, which defines the origin relative to which the transformation matrix should be applied (e.g. a rotation applied with some transform origin will rotate the plane about that point)
  • a boolean indicating whether the transform should be projected into the plane of its parent (i.e., whether the total transform inherited from its parent should be flattened before this node's transform is applied and propagated to children)
  • an integer rendering context ID; content whose transform nodes share a rendering context ID should sort together
  • other fields, see the header file
The painting system may create transform nodes which don't affect the position of points in the xy-plane, but which have an apparent effect only when multiplied with other transformation matrices. In particular, a transform node may be created to establish a perspective matrix for descendant transforms in order to create the illusion of depth.

Note that, even though CSS does not permit it in the DOM, the transform tree can have nodes whose children do not flatten their inherited transform and participate in no 3D rendering context. For example, not flattening is necessary to preserve the 3D character of the perspective transform, but this does not imply any 3D sorting.


Each paint chunk is associated with a clip node, which defines the raster region that will be applied on the canvas when the chunk is rastered.

Each clip node has:

  • A float rect with (optionally) rounded corner radius.
  • An optional clip path if the clip is a clip path.
  • An associated transform node, which the clip rect is based on.

The raster region defined by a node is the rounded rect and/or clip path transformed to the root space, intersects with the raster region defined by its parent clip node (if not root).


Each paint chunk is associated with an effect node, which defines the effect (opacity, transfer mode, filter, mask, etc.) that should be applied to the content before or as it is composited into the content below.

Each effect node has:

  • effects, including opacity, transfer mode, filter, mask, etc.
  • an optional associated clip node which clips the output of the effect when composited into the current backdrop.
  • an associated transform node which defines the geometry space of some geometry-related effects (e.g. some filters).

The hierarchy in the effect tree defines the dependencies between rasterization of different contents.

One can imagine each effect node as corresponding roughly to a bitmap that is drawn before being composited into another bitmap, though for implementation reasons this may not be how it is actually implemented.


Each paint chunk is associated with a scroll node which defines information about how a subtree scrolls so threads other than the main thread can perform scrolling. Scroll information includes:

  • Which directions, if any, are scrollable by the user.
  • A reference to a transform node which contains a 2d scroll offset.
  • The extent that can be scrolled. For example, an overflow clip of size 7x9 with scrolling contents of size 7x13 can scroll 4px vertically and none horizontally.

To ensure geometry operations are simple and only deal with transforms, the scroll offset is stored as a 2d transform in the transform tree.

Display items

A display item is the smallest unit of a display list in Blink. Each display item is identified by an ID consisting of:

  • an opaque pointer to the display item client that produced it
  • a type (from the DisplayItem::Type enum)

In practice, display item clients are generally subclasses of LayoutObject, but can be other Blink objects which get painted, such as inline boxes and drag images.

It is illegal for there to be two display items with the same ID in a display item list, except for display items that are marked uncacheable (see DisplayItemCacheSkipper).

Generally, clients of this code should use stack-allocated recorder classes to emit display items to a PaintController (using GraphicsContext).

Standalone display items


Holds a PaintRecord which contains the paint operations required to draw some atom of content.


Placeholder for GraphicsLayers allocated by the pre-CompositeAfterPaint compositing logic. Each one of these may or may not ultimately produce a cc::PictureLayer, depending on the layer squashing mechanism. This class becomes obsolete with CompositeAfterPaint.


Draws an atom of content, but using a cc::Layer produced by some agent outside of the normal Blink paint system (for example, a plugin). Since they always map to a cc::Layer, they are always the only display item in their paint chunk, and are ineligible for squashing with other layers.


Placeholder for creating a cc::Layer for scrolling in paint order. Hit testing in the compositor requires both property trees (scroll nodes) and a scrollable cc::layer in paint order. This should be associated with the scroll translation paint property node as well as any overflow clip nodes.

Paint controller

Callers use GraphicsContext (via its drawing methods, and its paintController() accessor) and scoped recorder classes, which emit items into a PaintController.

PaintController is responsible for producing the paint artifact. It contains the current paint artifact, and new display items and paint chunks, which are added as content is painted.

Painters should call PaintController::UseCachedItemIfPossible() or PaintController::UseCachedSubsequenceIfPossible() and if the function returns true, existing display items that are still valid in the current paint artifact will be reused and the painter should skip real painting of the item or subsequence.

When the new display items have been populated, clients call commitNewDisplayItems, which replaces the previous artifact with the new data, producing a new paint artifact.

At this point, the paint artifact is ready to be drawn or composited.

Paint result caching and invalidation

See Display item caching and Paint invalidation for more details about how caching and invalidation are handled in blink core module using PaintController API.

Paint artifact compositor

PaintArtifactCompositor is responsible for consuming the PaintArtifact produced by the PaintController, and converting it into a form suitable for the compositor to consume.

At present, PaintArtifactCompositor creates a cc layer tree, with one layer for each paint chunk. In the future, it is expected that we will use heuristics to combine paint chunks into a smaller number of layers.

The owner of the PaintArtifactCompositor (e.g. WebView) can then attach its root layer to the overall layer hierarchy to be displayed to the user.

In the future we would like to explore moving to a single shared property tree representation across both cc and Blink. See Web Page Geometries for more.

Raster invalidation

This is to mark which parts of the composited layers need to be re-rasterized to reflect changes of painting, by comparing the current paint artifact against the previous paint artifact. It's the last step of painting.

It's done in two levels:

  • Paint chunk level RasterInvalidator: matches each paint chunk in the current paint artifact against the corresponding paint chunk in the previous paint artifact, by matching their ids. There are following cases:

    • A new paint chunk doesn't match any old paint chunk (appearing): The bounds of the new paint chunk in the composited layer will be fully raster invalidated.

    • An old paint chunk doesn't match any new paint chunk (disappearing): The bounds of the old paint chunk in the composited layer will be fully raster invalidated.

    • A new paint chunk matches an old paint chunk:

      • The new paint chunk is moved backward (reordering): this may expose other chunks that was previously covered by it: Both of the old bounds and the new bounds will be fully raster invalidated.

      • Paint properties of the paint chunk changed:

        • If only clip changed, the difference between the old bounds and the new bounds will be raster invalidated (i.e. do incremental invalidation).

        • Otherwise, both of the old bounds and the new bounds will be fully raster invalidated.

      • Otherwise, check for changed display items within the paint chunk.

  • Display item level DisplayItemRasterInvalidator: This is executed when a new chunk matches an old chunk in-order and paint properties didn't change. The algorithm checks changed display items within a paint chunk.

    • Similar to the paint chunk level, the visual rects (mapped to the space of the composited layer) of appearing, disappearing, reordering display items are fully raster invalidated.

    • If a new paint chunk in-order matches an old paint chunk, if the display item client has been paint invalidated, we will do full raster invalidation (which invalidates the old visual rect and the new visual rect in the composted layer) or incremental raster invalidation (which invalidates the difference between the old visual rect and the new visual rect) according to the paint invalidation reason.

Geometry routines

The GeometryMapper is responsible for efficiently computing visual and transformed rects of display items in the coordinate space of ancestor PropertyTreeStates.

The transformed rect of a display item in an ancestor PropertyTreeState is that rect, multiplied by the transforms between the display item's PropertyTreeState and the ancestors, then flattened into 2D.

The visual rect of a display item in an ancestor PropertyTreeState is the intersection of all of the intermediate clips (transformed in to the ancestor state), with the display item's transformed rect.