lördag 5 januari 2013

binpacking + fonts

Skyline-BL (Bottom Left) with
rects sorted on height. Rotation of
the rects were not enabled.
During the holidays, I've been working with my hobbyist project of generating bitmap fonts. One of the issues I hadn't looked into yet was the problem of wasted space between the glyphs and rows. And while I still wasn't actively looking to solve that problem just yet, I stumbled upon a good read by Jukka Jylänki - "A thousand ways to pack the bin - A practical approach to two-dimensional rectangle bin packing" from 2010.

It was a nice explanation of the most common bin packing algorithms and it also came with public domain source code (Thanks Jukka!)

Using the code was easy and I was up and running with it within a few hours. Reading the paper first, I anticipated the Maxrects ans Skyline methods to achieve the best results so those were the ones I implemented.

One thing that is worth mentioning, is that the packing algorithms allow for the rectangles to be rotated, so if you don't want that, you have to comment out a little bit of code (which is a very fast fix).

Here is a comparison of a few of them:


For my special case of creating fonts, I benefit from debugging the visual quality of the glyphs, so I don't allow the glyphs to be rotated 90 degrees. Also, sorting the glyphs with respect of the height gave the best packing and also increased the performance of the packing (~2x faster than the other methods). So for me, the Skyline-BL gave the best results. But you should of course test your own scenario to see what fits best.

A pretty good packing as a result.
Debug backgrounds are turned on
to make it easier to debug.