Pixels and Device-Independent Units

PDF for offline use
Sample Code:
Related APIs:

Let us know how you feel about this

Translation Quality


last updated: 2017-02

Explore the differences between SkiaSharp coordinates and Xamarin.Forms coordinates

This article explores the differences in the coordinate system used in SkiaSharp and Xamarin.Forms. You can obtain information to convert between the two coordinate systems and also draw graphics that fill a particular area:

If you've been programming in Xamarin.Forms for a while, you might have a feel for Xamarin.Forms coordinates and sizes. The circles drawn in the two previous articles might seem a little small to you.

Those circles are small in comparison with Xamarin.Forms sizes. By default, SkiaSharp draws in units of pixels while Xamarin.Forms bases coordinates and sizes on a device-independent unit established by the underlying platform.(More information on the Xamarin.Forms coordinate system can be found in Chapter 5. Dealing with Sizes of the book Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms.)

The page in the SkewSharpFormsDemos program entitled Surface Size uses SkiaSharp text output to show the size of the display surface from three different sources:

  • The normal Xamarin.Forms Width and Height properties of the SKCanvasView object.
  • The CanvasSize property of the SKCanvasView object.
  • The Size property of the SKImageInfo value, which is consistent with the Width and Height properties used in the two previous pages.

The SurfaceSizePage class shows how to display these values. The constructor saves the SKCanvasView object as a field, so it can be accessed in the PaintSurface event handler:

SKCanvasView canvasView;

public SurfaceSizePage()
    Title = "Surface Size";

    canvasView = new SKCanvasView();
    canvasView.PaintSurface += OnCanvasViewPaintSurface;
    Content = canvasView;

SKCanvas includes six different DrawText methods, but this DrawText method is the simplest:

public void DrawText (String text, Single x, Single y, SKPaint paint)

You specify the text string, the X and Y coordinates where the text is to begin, and an SKPaint object. The X coordinate specifies where the left side of the text is positioned, but watch out: The Y coordinate specifies the position of the baseline of the text. If you've ever written by hand on lined paper, the baseline is the line on which characters sit, and below which descenders (such as those on the letters g, p, q, and y) descend.

The SKPaint object allows you to specify the color of the text, the font family, and the text size. By default, the TextSize property has a value of 12, which results in very small text on high-resolution devices such as phones. In anything but the simplest applications, you'll also need some information on the size of the text you're displaying. The SKPaint class defines a FontMetrics property and several MeasureText methods, but for less fancy needs, the FontSpacing property provides a recommended value for spacing successive lines of text.

The following PaintSurface handler creates an SKPaint object for a TextSize of 40 pixels, which is the desired vertical height of the text from the top of ascenders to the bottom of descenders. The FontSpacing value that the SKPaint object returns is a little larger than that, about 47 pixels.

void OnCanvasViewPaintSurface(object sender, SKPaintSurfaceEventArgs args)
    SKImageInfo info = args.Info;
    SKSurface surface = args.Surface;
    SKCanvas canvas = surface.Canvas;


    SKPaint paint = new SKPaint
        Color = SKColors.Black,
        TextSize = 40

    float fontSpacing = paint.FontSpacing;
    float x = 20;               // left margin
    float y = fontSpacing;      // first baseline
    float indent = 100;

    canvas.DrawText("SKCanvasView Height and Width:", x, y, paint);
    y += fontSpacing;
    canvas.DrawText(String.Format("{0:F2} x {1:F2}",
                                  canvasView.Width, canvasView.Height),
                    x + indent, y, paint);
    y += fontSpacing * 2;
    canvas.DrawText("SKCanvasView CanvasSize:", x, y, paint);
    y += fontSpacing;
    canvas.DrawText(canvasView.CanvasSize.ToString(), x + indent, y, paint);
    y += fontSpacing * 2;
    canvas.DrawText("SKImageInfo Size:", x, y, paint);
    y += fontSpacing;
    canvas.DrawText(info.Size.ToString(), x + indent, y, paint);

The method begins the first line of text with an X coordinate of 20 (for a little margin at the left) and a Y coordinate of fontSpacing, which is a little more than what's necessary to display the full height of the first line of text at the top of the display surface. After each call to DrawText, the Y coordinate is increased by one or two increments of fontSpacing.

Here's the program running on all three platforms:

As you can see, the CanvasSize property of the SKCanvasView and the Size property of the SKImageInfo value are consistent in reporting the pixel dimensions. The Height and Width properties of the SKCanvasView are Xamarin.Forms properties, and report the size of the view in the device-independent units defined by the platform.

The iOS 7 simulator on the left has 2 pixels per device-independent unit, the Android Nexus 5 in the center has 3 pixels per unit, and the Nokia Lumia 925 on the right has 2.25 pixels per unit. That's why the simple circle shown earlier looks about the same size on the iPhone and Windows phone, but is smaller on the Android phone.

If you'd prefer to work entirely in device-independent units, you can do so by setting the IgnorePixelScaling property of the SKCanvasView to true. However, you might not like the results. SkiaSharp renders the graphics on a smaller device surface, with a pixel size equal to the size of the view in device-independent units. (For example, SkiaSharp would use a display surface of 360 x 512 pixels on the Nexus 5.) It then scales that image up in size, resulting in noticeable bitmap jaggies.

To maintain the same image resolution, a better solution is to write your own simple functions to convert between the two coordinate systems.

In addition to the DrawCircle method, SKCanvas also defines two DrawOval methods that draw an ellipse. An ellipse is defined by two radii rather than a single radius. These are known as the major radius and the minor radius. The DrawOval method draws an ellipse with the two radii parallel to the X and Y axes. That restriction can be overcome with transforms or the use of a graphics path (to be covered later), but this DrawOval method names the two radii argument rx and ry to indicate that they are parallel to the X and Y axes:

public void DrawOval (Single cx, Single cy, Single rx, Single ry, SKPaint paint)

Is it possible to draw an ellipse that fills the display surface? The Ellipse Fill page demonstrates how. The PaintSurface event handler in the EllipseFillPage.xaml.cs class subtracts half the stroke width from the xRadius and yRadius values to fit the whole ellipse and its outline within the display surface:

void OnCanvasViewPaintSurface(object sender, SKPaintSurfaceEventArgs args)
    SKImageInfo info = args.Info;
    SKSurface surface = args.Surface;
    SKCanvas canvas = surface.Canvas;


    float strokeWidth = 50;
    float xRadius = (info.Width - strokeWidth) / 2;
    float yRadius = (info.Height - strokeWidth) / 2;

    SKPaint paint = new SKPaint
        Style = SKPaintStyle.Stroke,
        Color = SKColors.Blue,
        StrokeWidth = strokeWidth
    canvas.DrawOval(info.Width / 2, info.Height / 2, xRadius, yRadius, paint);

Here it is running on the three platforms:

The other DrawOval method has an SGRect argument, which is a rectangle defined in terms of the X and Y coordinates of its upper-left corner and lower-right corner. The oval fills that rectangle, which suggests that it might be possible to use it in the Ellipse Fill page like this:

SKRect rect = new SKRect(0, 0, info.Width, info.Height);
canvas.DrawOval(rect, paint);

However, that truncates all the edges of the outline of the ellipse on the four sides. You need to adjust all the SKRect constructor arguments based on the strokeWidth to make this work right:

SKRect rect = new SKRect(strokeWidth / 2,
                         strokeWidth / 2,
                         info.Width - strokeWidth / 2,
                         info.Height - strokeWidth / 2);
canvas.DrawOval(rect, paint);

Xamarin Workbook

If it's not already installed, install the Xamarin Workbooks app first. The workbook file should download automatically, but if it doesn't, just click to start the workbook download manually.