Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Improving the image handling in LibreOffice - Part 2

It's been some times from my last blog post and in that time I continued with refactoring the code to get rid of use of GraphicObject uniqueID being passed around and stored in the model. The state of the code now is looking fine as we almost don't use the uniqueID anymore, which means that I can start with the next step of Graphic and GraphicObject improvements. 

There is a thing I forgot to clarify in the last blog post and this is that the GraphicObject uniqueID is usually passed around in the form of a URL string. The string has the prefix "vnd.sun.star.GraphicObject" and followed by the GraphicObject uniqueID. Using that URL it is possible to re-create a GraphicObject by passing the unique ID as the construction parameter (see constructor with OUString parameter on GraphicObject or UNO serviceGraphicObject::createWithId).

Usage in filters

The most "heavy" users of the uniqueID were the document format filters (xmloff, oox & writerfilter) which generally use it to read the images from the storage (usually ZIP) and convert the GraphicObject and pass GraphicObject uniqueID around. At writing it does the reverse, get the GraphicObject URL and "resolve" the URL to the package URL. At conversion the GraphicObject is created and the image is stored into the storage. To do this there XGraphicObjectResolver published UNO interface which has only resolveGraphicObjectURL which converts a GraphicObject URL to the Package URL and back. 

Resolving the URL is not the correct approach anymore so I had to do it in a different way. The result of that is XGraphicStorageHandler, which has explicit method to load and save an XGraphic from the package URL, which does everything without the need to use the GraphicObject unique ID.

In addition a graphic can also be external - somewhere on the disk or internet, identified by an external URL. For this case I implemented a GraphicLoader, which is generally just uses XGraphicProvider to load the graphic (in one of the next steps this will be reversed so that XGraphicProvider is just a UNO interface that uses GraphicLoader).

The special case with external URLs is also that we need to remember the URL, which was used to load the graphic, so that we can later just save the URL and not the Graphic into the storage. Previously the URL was always passed along as string so this wasn't a problem, but now we pass XGraphic. So for this I had to extend the Graphic in VCL with an origin URL attribute, to solve this use case. In a next steps the URL loading will be extended even more so the Graphic itself will handle URL completely transparently to the outside.

UNO properties

Usually the filters used the UNO API to set the GraphicObject unique ID into the document model. This was mostly implemented as a properties on various interfaces in UNO. Mostly used name of the properties was GraphicURL (used in different places), but there were also other properties: 
  • BackGraphicURL (for backgrounds)
  • HeaderBackGraphicURL (for backgrounds in header)
  • FooterBackGraphicURL (for backgrounds in footer)
  • ParaBackGraphicURL (for backgrounds in paragraphs)
  • ThumbnailURL (for thumbnail of a graphic - not in IDL)
  • ReplacementGraphicURL (for replacement graphic - not in IDL)
  • FillBitmapURL (BitmapTable)
All these properties are now deprecated and removed and an alternative was added (where needed) that uses the XGraphic or XBitmap types (they use the same implementation so either can be used). This was done as following:
  • GraphicURL -> Graphic (type XGraphic) and GraphicBitmap (type XBitmap) for bullets
  • BackGraphicURL -> BackGraphic (type XGraphic) 
  • HeaderBackGraphicURL -> HeaderBackGraphic (type XGraphic)
  • FooterBackGraphicURL -> FooterBackGraphic (type XGraphic)
  • ParaBackGraphicURL -> ParaBackGraphic (type XGraphic)
  • ThumbnailURL  -> Thumbnail (type XGraphic)
  • ReplacementGraphicURL -> ReplacementGraphic (type XGraphic)
  • FillBitmapURL -> FillBitmap (type XBitmap)
There is also ImageURL which is used in form controls, but this was still left inside as there is already a Graphic property which is an alternative.

As the GraphicObject URL is going away (they won't be created anymore and won't be possible to get the GraphicObject back using the URL), so will the properties, as the content of them won't make much sense anymore.

Next steps

The next step is now to finally work on Graphic itself, which I'm much more excited about. The managing of memory (GraphicManager) will move from the GraphicObject to the Graphic itself.  When a new Graphic is created, the original bit-stream needs to be saved immediately to the temp folder, where the Graphic can always load the image again and is always free to release the memory if needed (this also means it won't need to load the image to the memory until it is actually needed). With this I think that handling of images will finally be a lot more predictable and homogeneous (no different implementations of things through different modules) and we can actually introduce new features in the future much more easily. 

Back to work...


Many thanks to Collabora Productivity, TDF and users that support the foundation by providing donations, to make this work possible.

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