tiistai 9. helmikuuta 2021

What makes code maintainable?

What makes code maintainable?

an list of attempts to make code better. not an "end of all knowledge" list, but evolving and living with times.

I have thought these for a while and better to make a post of these than just ponder inside my homogenic head.

Clear (minimal) interfaces

Interface embodies an abstract requirement, that implementation fulfills. 
Minimality tries to ensure the coherency of the concepts/interface, as humans do have limited capacity to reason and understand concepts.

Clear concepts.

The definition of a concept is different for each person, depending on experiences and culture. I think the only way to make an abstraction/concept concrete and clear, is to make it clear to oneself by implementing, reading, testing, and by documenting.

Clear apis

Boundaries, is this a stand-alone api, or part of some other group, is it a whole, or a part. Is it independent of any other apis. Connections, usage, modules.

Self documenting naming

naming is one of the big 3 problems of software engineering, for example often great sounding naming scheme, but actually quite horrible is: 
  • everything is a "Manager"
  • naming variables according to what class they are "UIButtonTextObject uiButtonTextObject;" 

Consistent coding style

If each line of code has different style, programmer spends more time decoding code into mental models, codified coding style helps with read speeds and helps mitigate coding errors.


Tests of/on interfaces, Tests of whole (integration tests), unit tests.


Comments on weird/Complex code. For example if the code has had to have construct where the indexing starts from 0, but skips 1; 0,2,3,4,5,6 being valid numbers.


Examples and usage examples.

CI Building

Continuous builds of the product and creating internal releases constantly, instead of panic mode building on release day.

keskiviikko 27. tammikuuta 2021

Mop; Tools/Tooling

this is a post, I will update, while proceeding and creating tools/tooling.


MOP uses flatbuffers for file-format serialization, fbs files define enumerations, structures, flags, almost everything. Usually Python and C++ sources are generated from the fbs files.

draw.io/diagrams.net is used to visualise the connections of the structures and files; to explain how everything forms coherent mesh/scene/animation/resource presentation.


MOP has python scripts to generate/view mop files.

pyconvert is a collection of scripts to convert gltf files to mop binaries, or list the contents of mop binaries.


  • git repo master should be used to compile flatbuffers flatc, the binaries provided by internets are old and incompatible, with some fbs definitions.
  • python has its quirks, but once it starts working, it seems usable.
  • fbs files needs to define if a structure can be a root structure.
  • fbs files can also define file endings, which is a bit curious thing.
  • flatbuffers is probably not meant for python, the usage patterns are really cumbersome. 

tiistai 26. tammikuuta 2021

Mop; Graphics/Game Asset format

Why?.. where I come from..

I have been creating game/graphics engines for years now, while doing that I need to import 2D/3D/Mesh/Scene/Text/Sound assets efficiently, without hassle.

With 3D objects/meshes, I first end up just generating simple primitives (Balls, Cubes, Planes) on the fly and for complicated things I use gltf or assimp

Assimp is full of features that you do not need and misses features that you need (while providing massive maintenance footprint), frankly it is ill suited for real-time applications. 

GLTF is modern, changing and quite universal format, except, when creating something new, one has to extend the format with "extra" data or creating own custom extensions, which leads to having to maintain custom exporters. I am also assuming that the performance is often bad due to having to support all possible permutations that GLTF file comes in (not all data is required by gltf specs, whereas my engine can require to always need 2 sets of texture coordinates, which is arbitrary, but acceptable requirement).

Custom 3D format gives a lots of benefits;
  • Defining structures that the graphics engine needs and nothing else.
  • Most of the error handling can be offloaded onto tooling side, assets are configured on tooling side to match the engine.
  • No dependencies on 3rd party, for example if one day I want to define meshes with bezier curves, I am free to do so. Or if the cubic-spline interpolation is mathematically imperfect, I can change the specification.
  • Optimization potential by the tooling (gltf, obj, etc. do not support texture compression right off the bat, often textures are just uncompressed).


2019 I was creating a vulkan based graphics engine and started designing 3D mesh/Scene format (kokkeli-mop) at the time I just sketched together some bare bone presentation of how a 3D mesh structures could be presented with flatbuffers. At the time I was trying to learn vulkan rtx raytracing and the 3d fileformat was just a side-thought of a side-project.

2020 I abandoned of trying to do graphics engine from scratch or rather from lowest level and opted to create graphics algorithms and engine side on top of another engine. During development, I considered using GLTF in engine but I reconsidered and revived my MOP fileformat for this project and after couple months of development, friend recommended writing a blog of the journey of developing MOP, hopefully documenting the reasoning behind design choices..

MOP So far..

As this is ongoing process, all things are in constant change, iterations.. once everything has been proven to work, I can say that MOP has reached status 1.0.

First iteration of drawing the MOP graph.. I can say this is purely academical work at this point.

Somewhere along the line, scene graph sketches, but still very academic work.

At the beginning I had defined all the attributes and material/descriptorset bindings, as uint32 ID's, but later on I decided that actually, everything should be bound by semantic strings, the mesh provides with semantics data that the graphics pipelines might use, in attributes, or in uniforms, or somewhere else. I reasoned that parsing a string and having logic that dynamically interprets data versus having hardcoded indexes, the dynamic way wins.

latest version as of jan. 27. 2021 .. Some improvements on naming, and red arrows determining where blobs of data separate into different files.

At the moment I have created fbs files that define flatbuffers structures. Python scripts that convert gltf files into MOP structures. Of the structures, I have tested that Mesh works, and I am currently working on the Material blobs. 

Next post is hopefully going to be a explanation of Mesh structure and if I have completed Material structure, also about that as well.