Performance tips

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Written for CEGUI 0.7

Works with versions 0.7.x (obsolete)

Written for CEGUI 0.8

Works with versions 0.8.x (stable)

Works with latest CEGUI stable!

This page provides some generic tips on getting the most performance out of CEGUI. People often claim that CEGUI is slow and don't realise it could be them doing something wrong. I will try to gather some areas where people claim CEGUI is slow and "just sucks" and try to provide tips about what is wrong.

Problem: Loading layouts takes few seconds and halts my application!

This is a complaint I have seen multiple times. The reporter usually has a dialog that in its constructor loads a XML layout off the HDD and constructs its hierarchy based on that. Depending on how the layout is complex, this can indeed take a few seconds (depending on many many factors). What is flawed about this is the fact that the user loads the layout always when the dialog is constructed. Wouldn't it be better if we loaded the layout once, stored it somewhere and reused that whenever the dialog has to reappear instead of deleting the layout when user closes the dialog and loading it from scratch when it's opened?

There are two ways of avoiding this. If the dialog is modal and can only appear once, it pays off to just load it, set it to invisible and the show/hide as necessary. This is the fastest solution.

If you need multiple instances of the dialog, you need to clone the widget tree somehow. This is why Widget (Window in 0.7 and previous) ::clone method has been implemented (only CEGUI 0.7.5 and newer!). It allows you to clone the entire widget hiearchy. The idea is to load this when the dialog is first used (or even when loading the application, depends on how the dialog is used). Store the widget pointer somewhere (could be a static member variable in the Dialog class) and upon construction, just clone the hierarchy and add the cloned widget while leaving the original alone for further cloning. (TODO: add some example code)

A quick and (relatively) painless way to get roughly 40% performance increase in certain areas (0.8 only!)

By default, CEGUI uses no custom allocators at all. That means the plain old new and delete. You can set the allocator to anything you want but we recommend nedmalloc. It's a very robust memory allocator tailored to give maximum performance. It speeds things up especially when initialising, loading layouts, creating windows, ... Give it a try. See Memory Allocation for more details.

Speeding up a rarely changing info window (or any widget) with complex elements inside it

CEGUI allows caching. This is done with the "AutoRenderingSurface" property. What this means is that the widget gets rendered once with its child widgets (the entire hierarchy). The result is stored in a texture and from this moment on, whenever rendering needs to be done, just one quad with the texture is drawn. When widgets change inside, it invalidates the cache and everything is redrawn from scratch. This is especially useful for complex deep hierarchy widgets that users rarely interact with or aren't interactive at all.

Caveat: The texture caching causes the widget to hard clip its children to its dimensions! That means that a combobox at the bottom of a frame window will get "cut" when you open the options of it. This is likely to get fixed but as of now (5th January 2011) it's still a problem in both 0.7 and 0.8.