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Posted 14 Jun 2011
Licenced CPOL

Fast Optimizing Rectangle Packing Algorithm for Building CSS Sprites

, 14 Jun 2011
Describes a fast algorithm to pack a series of rectangles of varying widths and heights into an enclosing rectangle of minimum size
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Drawing;

namespace Mapper
    public class MapperOptimalEfficiency<S> : MapperOptimalEfficiency_Base<S> where S : class, ISprite, new()
        /// <summary>
        /// See MapperIterative_Base
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="canvas">
        /// Canvas to be used by the Mapping method.
        /// </param>
        public MapperOptimalEfficiency(ICanvas canvas)
            : base(canvas)

        /// <summary>
        /// See MapperIterative_Base
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="canvas">
        /// Canvas to be used by the Mapping method.
        /// </param>
        /// <param name="cutoffEfficiency">
        /// The Mapping method will stop trying to get a better solution once it has found a solution
        /// with this efficiency.
        /// </param>
        /// <param name="maxNbrCandidateSprites">
        /// The Mapping method will stop trying to get a better solution once it has generated this many
        /// candidate sprites.
        /// </param>
        public MapperOptimalEfficiency(ICanvas canvas, float cutoffEfficiency, int maxNbrCandidateSprites)
            : base(canvas, cutoffEfficiency, maxNbrCandidateSprites)

        /// <summary>
        /// See IMapper.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="images"></param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        public override S Mapping(IEnumerable<IImageInfo> images, IMapperStats mapperStats)
            int candidateSpriteFails = 0;
            int candidateSpritesGenerated = 0;
            int canvasRectangleAddAttempts = 0;
            int canvasNbrCellsGenerated = 0;

            // Sort the images by height descending
            IOrderedEnumerable<IImageInfo> imageInfosHighestFirst =
                images.OrderByDescending(p => p.Height);

            int totalAreaAllImages =
                (from a in imageInfosHighestFirst select a.Width * a.Height).Sum();

            int widthWidestImage =
                (from a in imageInfosHighestFirst select a.Width).Max();

            int heightHighestImage = imageInfosHighestFirst.First().Height;

            S bestSprite = null;

            int canvasMaxWidth = Canvas.UnlimitedSize;
            int canvasMaxHeight = heightHighestImage;

            while (canvasMaxWidth >= widthWidestImage)
                CanvasStats canvasStats = new CanvasStats();
                int lowestFreeHeightDeficitTallestRightFlushedImage;
                S spriteInfo = 
                    MappingRestrictedBox(imageInfosHighestFirst, canvasMaxWidth, canvasMaxHeight, canvasStats, out lowestFreeHeightDeficitTallestRightFlushedImage);

                canvasRectangleAddAttempts += canvasStats.RectangleAddAttempts;
                canvasNbrCellsGenerated += canvasStats.NbrCellsGenerated;

                if (spriteInfo == null)
                    // Failure - Couldn't generate a SpriteInfo with the given maximum canvas dimensions


                    // Try again with a greater max height. Add enough height so that 
                    // you don't get the same rectangle placement as this time.

                    if (canvasStats.LowestFreeHeightDeficit == Int32.MaxValue)
                        canvasMaxHeight += canvasStats.LowestFreeHeightDeficit;
                    // Success - Managed to generate a SpriteInfo with the given maximum canvas dimensions


                    // Find out if the new SpriteInfo is better than the current best one
                    if ((bestSprite == null) || (bestSprite.Area > spriteInfo.Area))
                        bestSprite = spriteInfo;

                        float bestEfficiency = (float)totalAreaAllImages / spriteInfo.Area;
                        if (bestEfficiency >= CutoffEfficiency) { break; }

                    if (candidateSpritesGenerated >= MaxNbrCandidateSprites) { break; }

                    // Try again with a reduce maximum canvas width, to see if we can squeeze out a smaller sprite
                    // Note that in this algorithm, the maximum canvas width is never increased, so a new sprite
                    // always has the same or a lower width than an older sprite.
                    canvasMaxWidth = bestSprite.Width - 1;

                    // Now that we've decreased the width of the canvas to 1 pixel less than the width
                    // taken by the images on the canvas, we know for sure that the images whose
                    // right borders are most to the right will have to move up.
                    // To make sure that the next try is not automatically a failure, increase the height of the 
                    // canvas sufficiently for the tallest right flushed image to be placed. Note that when
                    // images are placed sorted by highest first, it will be the tallest right flushed image
                    // that will fail to be placed if we don't increase the height of the canvas sufficiently.

                    if (lowestFreeHeightDeficitTallestRightFlushedImage == Int32.MaxValue)
                        canvasMaxHeight += lowestFreeHeightDeficitTallestRightFlushedImage;

                // ---------------------
                // Adjust max canvas width and height to cut out sprites that we'll never accept

                int bestSpriteArea = bestSprite.Area;
                bool candidateBiggerThanBestSprite;
                bool candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages;

                while (
                    (canvasMaxWidth >= widthWidestImage) &&
                            canvasMaxWidth, canvasMaxHeight, bestSpriteArea, totalAreaAllImages,
                            out candidateBiggerThanBestSprite, out candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages)) )
                    if (candidateBiggerThanBestSprite) { canvasMaxWidth--; }
                    if (candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages) { canvasMaxHeight++; }

            if (mapperStats != null)
                mapperStats.CandidateSpriteFails = candidateSpriteFails;
                mapperStats.CandidateSpritesGenerated = candidateSpritesGenerated;
                mapperStats.CanvasNbrCellsGenerated = canvasNbrCellsGenerated;
                mapperStats.CanvasRectangleAddAttempts = canvasRectangleAddAttempts;

            return bestSprite;

        /// <summary>
        /// Works out whether there is any point in trying to fit the images on a canvas
        /// with the given width and height.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="canvasMaxWidth">Candidate canvas width</param>
        /// <param name="canvasMaxHeight">Candidate canvas height</param>
        /// <param name="bestSpriteArea">Area of the smallest sprite produces so far</param>
        /// <param name="totalAreaAllImages">Total area of all images</param>
        /// <param name="candidateBiggerThanBestSprite">true if the candidate canvas is bigger than the best sprite so far</param>
        /// <param name="candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages">true if the candidate canvas is smaller than the combined images</param>
        /// <returns></returns>
        protected virtual bool CandidateCanvasFeasable(
            int canvasMaxWidth, int canvasMaxHeight, int bestSpriteArea, int totalAreaAllImages,
            out bool candidateBiggerThanBestSprite, out bool candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages)
            int candidateArea = canvasMaxWidth * canvasMaxHeight;
            candidateBiggerThanBestSprite = (candidateArea > bestSpriteArea);
            candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages = (candidateArea < totalAreaAllImages);

            return !(candidateBiggerThanBestSprite || candidateSmallerThanCombinedImages);

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About the Author

Matt Perdeck
Australia Australia
Twitter: @MattPerdeck
Current project: JSNLog JavaScript Logging Package

Matt has over 9 years .NET and SQL Server development experience. Before getting into .Net, he worked on a number of systems, ranging from the largest ATM network in The Netherlands to embedded software in advanced Wide Area Networks and the largest ticketing web site in Australia. He has lived and worked in Australia, The Netherlands, Slovakia and Thailand.

He is the author of the book ASP.NET Performance Secrets ( in which he shows in clear and practical terms how to quickly find the biggest bottlenecks holding back the performance of your web site, and how to then remove those bottlenecks. The book deals with all environments affecting a web site - the web server, the database server and the browser.

Matt currently lives in Sydney, Australia. He recently worked at Readify and the global professional services company PwC. He now works at SP Health, a global provider of weight loss web sites such at CSIRO's and

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