Auto-rotation in iOS with openFrameworks

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned this before, but WaveShaper is a mixture of openFrameworks, UIKit, and Minim for C++. One of the major difficulties I’ve had in developing the app is getting the UIKit views and controllers to play nice. It’s not hard to render UIKit widgets on top of the EAGLView, you simply add your UIKit widget as a subview of the UIWindow or the EAGLView that openFrameworks creates, but it does not work to directly use openFrameworks coordinates to set the position and size of UIKit widgets.

The reason it doesn’t work is because (I’m pretty sure) openGL’s coordinate system is not the same as Apple’s. Part of what openFrameworks does is translate the coordinates of incoming touches from Apple’s coordinate system to openGL’s before sending touch events. This allows you to always think about the drawing surface in the “natural” way for doing openGL apps: upper left corner is always (0,0), positive X is to the right, positive Y is down. You can use this knowledge to simply transform your openGL coordinates to Apple coordinates when setting the position and size of UIKit widgets, but if you are using ofxiPhoneSetOrientation to reorient your openGL surface, the mapping between openGL coordinates and UIKit coordinates changes depending on the orientation. This means you have to reposition all of your UIKit objects every time the device is reoriented. Even worse, what I discovered is that in one of the landscape modes, even though the UIKit widgets looked correct, I actually had the device orientation set to the opposite of what it should have been, so when I displayed popovers, they were upside-down. When I presented modal view controllers, they would appear in the correct orientation, but then not rotate when device orientation changed.

After much hair-pulling, I finally came up with a solution that I think is pretty solid. Essentially, what I have done is embed the EAGLView in a view hierarchy that is well behaved with respect to Apple’s system and I do not call ofxiPhoneSetOrientation to change the orientation of the app. What this means is that from openFrameworks’ perspective the app never changes orientation, which is true in some sense because the EAGLView is added as a subview to a vanilla UIView that is strictly responsible for handling the rotation.

Ok, onto some actual code. Before setting up any UI, I set the openFrameworks orientation to landscape:

Then I rearrange the view hierarchy that openFrameworks creates so that I can set the position and size of UIKit widgets using openFrameworks coordinates. Included in this is creating a root view controller for the window, so that I can take advantage of the auto-rotation behavior they provide (and because Apple expects your app to have a root view controller):

Here’s the LandscapeViewController class, which limits supported orientations to landscape orientations and also turns off animations during rotation so that the orientation snaps. If you like the animated orientation change, you can simply remove those lines.

Finally, the class that registers to receive ofxiPhoneAlerts needs to handle device orientation changes like this:

And again, WaveShaper only displays in landscape, which is why those are the only orientations I handle.

Once all of this is in place, you can happily position buttons, sliders, popovers, and whatever else using the openFrameworks coordinate system and they will all look correct and rotate with the screen.