Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2018


A pixel format guide to the galaxy

A tool for interpreting pixel format definitions

The Pixel Format Guide is a collection of documents and an accompanying python tool which aim to help people interpret and manipulate the pixel format definitions used by the various graphics APIs and projects. In this talk we will describe the Pixel Format Guide and the capabilities of the accompanying tool, provide examples of how it can be used to automate many tasks involving pixel format definitions and explore future directions.

Every graphics API and project has its own way of describing and naming pixel formats — the different flavors used by Vulkan, OpenGL, Mesa, Gallium, Wayland, DRM, GBM, Pixman, Mir and SDL are just a few of the beasts one can encounter in the graphics wilderness. The Pixel Format Guide aims to become a comprehensive reference for pixel format definitions used by such APIs and projects, describing aspects as component bit order and dependence on system endianness. The guide provides both a collection of documents describing how to interpret the definitions, and a python tool and library (called pfg) that allows automatic interpretation of pixel format definitions and operations on them. The Pixel Format Guide currently supports 12 pixel format families for a total of 541 format definitions.

The pfg python library allows users to leverage all the information and capabilities of the tool to create their own custom scripts. A prime example of such a script would be the automatic production of code to convert between pixel formats definitions belonging to different format families.


Alexandros Frantzis