Clutter (software)

Clutter is a GObject-based graphics library for creating hardware-accelerated user interfaces. Clutter is an OpenGL-based 'interactive canvas' library and does not contain any graphical control elements. It relies upon OpenGL or OpenGL ES for rendering,. It also supports media playback using GStreamer and 2D graphics rendering using Cairo.
Clutter was authored by OpenedHand Ltd, now part of Intel. Clutter is free and open-source software, subject to the requirements of the GNU Lesser General Public License, version 2.1.


Popular programs that adopt Clutter are GNOME Videos, GNOME Shell, Pitivi, Cinnamon Desktop and GNOME Ease.
Mx is a widget toolkit based on Clutter originally designed for the graphical shell of Moblin/MeeGo netbook, but evolved into an independent project.
The widget toolkits Netbook Toolkit and Mx are based on Clutter. Often Clutter is seen analogous to GTK+ but this is inaccurate. Only Clutter together with Mx or Nbtk can match the extent of the GTK+. This is also the reason why Clutter is used together with GTK+.
Clutter supports multi-touch gestures.
GTK+ Scene Graph Kit was initially released as part of GTK+ 3.90 in March 2017 and is meant for GTK-based applications that wish to replace Clutter for their UI.

Software architecture

Clutter is a scene graph-based canvas working in retained mode. Every object on the scene is usually a 2D surface inside a 3D space.
Clutter abstracts the native windowing environment behind a backend, which is also responsible for creating the main container for the scene graph; this top level container is called the stage. Items on the stage are called actors.
Instead of operating on matrices, as does OpenGL, the Clutter developer changes properties of each actor. Clutter will then notice the changes, and render the scene accordingly.
Clutter is currently being developed by OpenedHand to provide visually rich graphical user interfaces on desktop and embedded hardware. The main target are media center-like applications, small devices UIs and base drawing API for GL- and GL/ES-based UI toolkits. Clutter uses Pango for text rendering and GdkPixbuf for loading images into GL textures. Interaction with other GNOME platform libraries is done through multiple integration libraries, e.g.: clutter-gst, clutter-gtk, clutter-cairo. It's API and ABI are kept stable within micro releases, but can break API during minor releases—until it reaches 1.0, then it will be API and ABI stable until the following major release.


ClutterActor is the basic element of Clutter's scene graph, it encapsulates the position, size, and transformations of a node in the graph.
Clutter is developed for the X Window System using GLX as well as Wayland using EGL. Clutter can also use the framebuffer. As of release 0.6, native support for Mac OS X has been added. A native Microsoft Windows backend is supported since the 0.8 release and Windows pre-compiled DLLs are available, however, it is possible to build the latest DLL for Windows with MinGW and Bash shell for Windows.
Since version 1.19.4 from June 2014, Clutter's evdev input backend depends on libinput 0.4.0.

Programming language bindings

Clutter is implemented using the C programming language with a design based on the GObject object system. Bindings are available for these languages:
Clutter can be integrated with other libraries and toolkits, for instance:
This example will add a label on the stage.

// Retrieve the default stage, which will contain all the actors on the scene.
ClutterActor *stage = clutter_stage_get_default ;
// Create a new label, using the Sans font 32 pixels high, and with the "Hello, world" text,
// and will place it into the stage.
ClutterActor *label = clutter_text_new_with_text ;
clutter_container_add_actor ;
// Position the label at the center of the stage, taking into account the stage and the label size.
float x = - clutter_actor_get_width ) / 2;
float y = - clutter_actor_get_height ) / 2;
clutter_actor_set_position ;
// Show the stage. All actors in Clutter are visible unless explicitly hidden, except for the stage;
// thus showing the stage will
// automatically display all of its visible children.
clutter_actor_show ;

Interface builder

Clutter can build user interfaces using a specialized JSON dialect. The entire scene graph is defined using JSON types and built at run time through the ClutterScript class.


This definition will create the main window and place a label with the text Hello, world! inside it.

The definition can be saved into a file or as a string, and loaded using:

ClutterScript *script = clutter_script_new ;
GError *error = NULL;
clutter_script_load_from_data ;


Clutter allows implicit animations of every item on the canvas using special objects called behaviours: each behaviour can be applied to multiple actors, and multiple behaviours can be composed on the same actor. Behaviours handle animations implicitly: the developer specifies the initial and final states, the time needed to complete the animation, the function of time to be used, and the behaviour will take care of the tweening. Clutter provides a generic base class for developers to implement custom behaviours, and various simple classes handling simple properties, like opacity, position on the Z axis, position along a path, rotation, etc.
Since Clutter 1.0, it is also possible to create simple, one-off animations using the ClutterAnimation class and the clutter_actor_animate convenience function. The clutter_actor_animate function animates an actor properties between their current state and the specified final state.


This example will scale the label from its size to a factor of 2 in 2 seconds, using a linear function of time and behaviours:

ClutterTimeline *timeline = clutter_timeline_new ;
ClutterAlpha *alpha = clutter_alpha_new_full ;
ClutterBehaviour *behaviour = clutter_behaviour_scale_new ;
clutter_behaviour_apply ;

The equivalent code using the implicit animations API is:

clutter_actor_animate ;


Cogl is a small open source software library for using 3D graphics hardware to draw pretty pictures. The API departs from the flat state machine style of OpenGL and is designed to make it easy to write orthogonal components that can render without stepping on each other's toes. Cogl currently supports OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 and OpenGL > 1.3, and having Gallium3D or D3D back-ends are options for the future.


libchamplain is a C library providing a ClutterActor to display maps. It also provides a Gtk+ widget to display maps in Gtk+ applications.
libchamplain is named after Samuel de Champlain, a French navigator, explorer and cartographer.