In order to talk about widths, I first need to talk about fonts. WebKit has a different concept of a font than your operating system does. To WebKit, a font comprises of a sequence of FontData objects, which are used for fallback. When you say, for example, <div style=“font-family: Helvetica, Arial;”>text</div>, “Helvetica” refers to a FontData object and “Arial” refers to a FontData object.
There are two subclasses of FontData: SegmentedFontData and SimpleFontData. SimpleFontData simply represents an operating-system font object (CTFontRef on OS X). SegmentedFontData refers to a collection of SimpleFontData objects, where each SimpleFontData is associated with a unicode range. This is how the unicode-range property in @font-face declarations are implemented. Because a Font is actually a collection of platform fonts, when we want to measure the width of a string using a Font, we’re actually specifying a collection of fonts.
There are actually two text code paths in WebKit: a simple path and a complex path. This is because there are many languages where text layout doesn’t require any complex shaping algorithms. In english, each codepoint has a particular glyph associated with it, and each glyph has an associated advance width, and the glyphs are simply put next to each other one by one. For these cases, we can simply make a map of codepoint to glyph, and glyph to width, and use these maps exclusively when calculating text width. If we use the simple path, there is no need to touch platform APIs at all (except to initially fill the map).
However, some languages, such as Arabic, have complex shaping rules about how to lay out glyphs. In particular, the sequence of glyphs chosen for an Arabic letter might be dependent on the letters surrounding it. For this case, we can’t simply make a cache; we need to invoke the platform’s text shaping API.
Therefore, when we want to measure text (Font::width()), the first thing we have to do is determine which codepath to use. There are a variety of things this function (Font::codePath()) considers, but one thing it does is iterates through all the code points, seeing if any come from these complex languages.
As far as WebKit is concerned, the complex codepath is actually easier to understand, since most of the work is delegated to the platform. In particular, each platform has their own implementation of Font::floatWidthForComplexText(), so I can only talk about OS X’s implementation.
The first thing OS X’s implementation of this function does is determines contiguous ranges within the string that are drawn with the same font. This is where font fallback is handled. For each character in the string, it iterates through all the FontDatas inside the Font, testing if that FontData can render the character. This test is performed by creating a CTLine containing only the single character, then iterating through the constituent CTRuns, asking which specific font the platform would use when drawing that particular CTRun. If any of the CTRun’s fonts aren’t the same as the font we are inspecting, the font we are inspecting cannot be used, and we keep searching down the fallback list.
Given this test, it finds contiguous ranges of characters that can be rendered with the same font, and creates a CTLine around the sequence of characters. It then iterates through that CTLine’s constituent CTRuns, remembering the glyphs, advances, and string indices for each glyph in the CTRun, as well as the FontData which gave rise to this run.
However, we’re not done yet. We first have to adjust all the information that CoreText gave us to take into account things like character spacing, tab width, synthetic bold, rounding, collapsing whitespace, etc. This algorithm is straightforward: just iterate through each of the glyphs in each of the runs we found. While we do this, we accumulate all the character advances.
And voilà! We have our width.
The simple text codepath requires much more WebKit code, but the benefit is that we don’t have to interact with platform APIs as often. In addition, the simple text codepath is all platform independent (except for initially populating the caches, as mentioned earlier). This codepath is centered around the WidthIterator class. The idea for WidthIterator::advanceInternal() is that we walk through the string codepoint by codepoint, asking which FontData the current character should be drawn with. We can then ask the FontData what the relevant glyph and advance is for the character. We have to perform the same fixup here regarding character spacing, tab width, etc. that we had to do in the complex case.
So, how do we know what FontData the current character should be drawn with? Well, we build up a large data structure representing all the fonts on the system. The first thing we do is divide up the set of all codepoints into “pages” that each have a set size of code points (currently 256). A GlyphPage contains a pair of SimpleFontData and Glyph ID for each code point contained within the page (There is also a compaction mechanism if all the codepoints would have the same SimpleFontData).
Then, we build up a tree of these GlyphPages. The nodes in the tree are instances of the GlyphPageTreeNode class, which contains a map for FontData to GlyphPageTreeNode that represents its children, as well as a reference to a GlyphPage, and some other less interesting members.
The first level of the tree (just below the root) is actually special. Each of the nodes in the first level is associated with a page number; if you’re interested in the 5th page (meaning codepoints 5 * 256 to 6 * 256) you simply start at the 5th node in this initial level. These are actually held in a static HashMap
Now, once you have an initial GlyphPageTreeNode, you progress down the tree (in FontGlyphs::glyphDataAndPageForCharacter()) by supplying a FontData object to the node’s children map. The FontData objects are supplied one by one from the Font object (Remember how I said earlier that Fonts are actually a sequence of FontData objects?). You stop when you have hit a node whose page contains a valid glyph and SimpleFontData for your codepoint. If we need a child that doesn’t exist, we create it and populate it at that point (GlyphPageTreeNode::initializePage()). initializePage() works by either calling into CoreText or CoreGraphics in GlyphPage::fill().
So, once we’ve descended through the tree, we’ve found the SimpleFontData that we should draw our character with. How do we then know what the character’s advance width is? Well, SimpleFontData has a GlyphMetricsMap in it which caches these width values. A GlyphMetricsMap contains a map from an int to a GlyphMetricsPage, which simply contains a constant-sized array of advances. If you ask the GlyphMetricsMap what the width for a particular glyph is, it might return cGlyphSizeUnknown, which means that SimpleFontData must then ask the platform what the advance width is, which it does by either calling into CoreText or CoreGraphics.
After we’ve answered all these questions, flow eventually returns to WidthIterator, which continues looping and accumulating glyph advance widths. When the loop concludes, we’ve got our total width.