Evas is a clean display canvas API for several target display systems that can draw anti-aliased text, smooth super- and sub-sampled scaled images, alpha-blend objects and more.
It abstracts the graphics drawing characteristics of the display system by implementing a canvas where graphical objects can be created, manipulated, and modified. It then handles the rendering pipeline in an optimal way for the underlying device in order to minimize redraws, via a programmatically efficient API.
A design goal for the system is to run well at both small and large scale, and be portable from embedded systems to multi-CPU workstations. Architecturally, this is achieved via 'backends' that provide the specialized display logic for specific devices. As well, there are various compile options to exclude feature support not required for a target platform to help minimize disk and memory requirements.
Evas can serve as a base for widget sets or toolkits (e.g. Elementary) by handling pixel drawing and regional change reporting, but does not manage windows itself, nor deal with input or window update event propagation. In other words, it is intended for use in drawing scrollbars, sliders, and push buttons but not for high-level logic of how the widget operates and behaves. Under Enlightenment, window and widget management is handled by other software components, including Ecore (see Ecore_Evas wrapper/helper set of functions in particular); however Evas is designed to not be dependent on any particular main loop architecture, and also strives to be input and output system agnostic.
Evas can be seen as a display system that stands somewhere between a widget set and an immediate mode display system. It retains basic display logic, but does very little high-level logic such as scrollbars, sliders, and push buttons.
The Evas canvas is a 'retained mode' renderer, which differs from the more traditional 'immediate mode' display and windowing systems by tracking drawing state information of its contained objects.
In an immediate mode rendering system, each frame is drawn from scratch by having each drawing element redraw itself. Once the commands are executed, the display system blits the frame to the screen but has no idea how to reproduce the image again, so the application has to run through the same sequence of drawing commands again. Very little or no state is kept from one frame draw to the next; while this is simple it forces each application to manually optimize their graphics code.
With retained mode systems like Evas, the application does not need to implement the display rendering code and associated logic, but merely updates the list of objects maintained in the canvas. Evas is then able to optimize the processing and rendering of the visible elements, and is better able to avoid redraws due to occlusion or opacity.
Evas is a structural system in which the programmer creates and manages display objects and their properties, and as a result of this higher level state management, the canvas is able to redraw the set of objects when needed to represent the current state of the canvas.
For example, consider the pseudo code:
line_handle = create_line(); set line_handle from position (0, 0) to position (100, 200); show line_handle; rectangle_handle = create_rectangle(); move rectangle_handle to position (10, 30); resize rectangle_handle to size 40 x 470; show rectangle_handle; bitmap_handle = create_bitmap(); scale bitmap_handle to size 100 x 100; move bitmap_handle to position (10, 30); show bitmap_handle; render scene;
By expressing the drawing as a set of drawable objects, Evas is able to internally handle refreshing, updating, moving, resizing, showing, and hiding the objects, and to determine to most efficiently redraw the canvas and its contents to reflect the current state. This permits the application to focus on the higher level logic, which both reduces the amount of coding and allows a more natural way of dealing with the display. Importantly, abstracting the display logic like this also simplifies porting the application to different display systems, since its own code is less tied into how that system works.
Evas compiles automatically within EFL's build system, and is automatically linked with Ecore and other components that need it. But it can also be built and used standalone, by compiling and linking your application with the compiler flags indicated by
pkg-config. For example:
gcc -c -o my_main.o my_main.c `pkg-config --cflags evas` gcc -o my_application my_main.o `pkg-config --libs evas`
More examples can be found at Evas Examples.