Follow Techotopia on Twitter

On-line Guides
All Guides
eBook Store
iOS / Android
Linux for Beginners
Office Productivity
Linux Installation
Linux Security
Linux Utilities
Linux Virtualization
Linux Kernel
System/Network Admin
Scripting Languages
Development Tools
Web Development
GUI Toolkits/Desktop
Mail Systems
Eclipse Documentation

How To Guides
General System Admin
Linux Security
Linux Filesystems
Web Servers
Graphics & Desktop
PC Hardware
Problem Solutions
Privacy Policy




Eclipse GEF and Draw2d Plug-in Developer Guide
Previous Page Home Next Page

Coordinate Systems

Draw2d provides a flexible coordinate with simple defaults. Different coordinate systems are required by certain optimizations and features provided by draw2d. A coordinate system is nothing more than an adjustment made to the Draw2d Graphics when painting children (coordinate systems have no affect on the way a figure paints itself). For example, it is possible to translate or zoom a Graphics. Both of these operations affect subsequent paint calls. To match what you see, operations like searching for a figure at a point must respect such coordinate changes.

The default coordinate system is very simple, it is the same for every figure. So it doesn't matter if a figure is parented by another figure, you could compare the bounding boxes directly to each other. When the figures paint, they all paint in the same coordinates, and when hit testing is performed, the location is not modified when searching recursively through the children. This coordinate system is called absolute. If a figure uses absolute coordinates, when it moves, it must also translate its children by the same amount. "Absolute" may not be the best choice of words. "Inherited" is probably more accurate, since children are inheriting the parent's coordinate system, which could be anything.

The opposite of absolute (or inherited) coordinates is relative (also local). In a relative coordinate system, the bounds of children are relative to the client area of their parent. The client area is the parent's bounds unless the parent has insets. When a figure with relative coordinates is moved, the children come along for free, without any changes to their bounds.

Relative vs. Absolute

The default coordinate system is absolute and is often left unchanged. A figure can easily change the coordinate system used for its children by overriding useLocalCoordinates(). The following table shows some possible reasons to choose either.

Task Absolute Coordinates Relative Coordinates
Translate/move a figure The figure and all of its children must be translated, which can be expensive in extreme cases. Only the figure's bounds must be updated. The children move for free.

Hit-test / determine repaint regions

No adjustments are needed to coordinates. Some simple math is used to adjust coordinates and rectangles to/from the coordinate system's origin.
Observe the figure's "location" on the Canvas A FigureListener can be used if the entire parent chain is using absolute coordinates. But this guarantee is rare. A FigureListener and CoordinateListener must be used. You must call translateToAsbolute on the figure being observed to get its canvas coordinates.
Determine the bounds of a parent based on the bounds of the children

Easy - after the children have been position, the parent can then figure out what its bounds should be.

Extremely hard, since updating the parent's bounds will cause the children to "move".

Other Coordinate Systems

Zooming and scrolling are done specially by the viewport and scalable layered pane figures provided with Draw2d. Scrolling a drawing is quite common, and it would be silly if doing this required updating the bounding rectangle of every figure in the drawing. As an optimization, a viewport can be constructed with virtual scrolling, which is implemented by translating the coordinate system's origin.

Zoom is done by scaling the coordinate system about the origin.

Working with Absolute Coordinates

The only types of locations which can be passed around and compared in a meaningful way are absolute. Here, "absolute" means the top-most parent (or root) figure's coordinate system. When Draw2d is used with SWT Canvas, an absolute location is the location on that Canvas. To get the location on the Display (i.e. the monitor), you would then have to use the utilities on SWT's Display to convert from a Control to the Display.

To convert to and from absolute coordinates, utility methods are defined on IFigure. These methods will convert any object implementing the Translatable interface (historical note: zoom was not in the first draw2d release so translation was the only type of converting necessary).

  • IFigure#translateToAbsolute(Translatable) - converts from the receiver's coordinates to absolute coordinates. Note that the receiver's coordinate system is the system in which the receiver is placed, and not the coordinates in which it places its children.
  • IFigure#translateToRelative(Translatable) - converts from absolute coordinates to the receiver's coordinates.

The above methods are implemented recursively by walking up the parent chain and performing the conversion for each parent. It's not easy to extend the behavior of a recursive method, so the actual conversions are factored out into separate methods.  These methods are also public and are called in some situations.

  • IFigure#translateToParent(Translatable) - converts from the coordinate system defined by the receiver.  If the receiver uses absolute/inherited coordinates, no conversion is performed.
  • IFigure#translateFromParent(Translatable) - converts to the coordinate system defined by the receiver.

Example: How to place a Shell on top of a Figure

Given a figure that is displayed on a Canvas, how do we popup a shell such that it is in exactly the same location on the screen?


First, take the figure's location and convert it to the canvas. Note that the figure's bounds are returned by reference, so you need to create a copy to avoid modifying the original bounds. Next, create an SWT Rectangle and convert it to the display's coordinates:

public void example1(Shell shell, Figure figure, Canvas canvas) {
    org.eclipse.draw2d.geometry.Rectangle r; swtRect;

    r = figure.getBounds().getCopy();

    swtRect = new, r.y, r.width, r.height);
    shell.setBounds(canvas.getDisplay().map(canvas, null, swtRect));

Example: How to Position a Connection using an Anchor

Given a ConnectionAnchor, what is the proper way to set the endpoint of a connection?


A connection anchor is a helper object that returns a Point in absolute coordinates. The connection figure can be inside a figure such as a viewport or layer that has its own coordinate system. The following code makes the necessary conversion:

public void example2(Connection connection,
        ConnectionAnchor sourceAnchor, Point reference)
    Point anchorpoint = sourceAnchor.getLocation(reference);

    PointList list = connection.getPoints();
    list.setPoint(anchorpoint, 0);

  Published under the terms of the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0 ("EPL") Design by Interspire