Retained mode

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Retained mode in computer graphics is a major pattern of API design in graphics libraries,[1] in which

Immediate mode is an alternative approach. Historically, retained mode has been the dominant style in GUI libraries;[4] however, both can coexist in the same library and are not necessarily exclusionary in practice.[5]


Schematic explanation of a retained mode graphics API

In retained mode the client calls do not directly cause actual rendering, but instead update an abstract internal model (typically a list of objects) which is maintained within the library's data space. This allows the library to optimize when actual rendering takes place along with the processing of related objects.[2]

Some techniques to optimize rendering include:

Example of coexistence with immediate mode in the same library is OpenGL.[dubious ][failed verification][10] OpenGL has immediate mode functions that can use previously defined server side objects (textures, vertex buffers and index buffers, shaders, etc.) without resending unchanged data.[11][12]

Examples of retained mode rendering systems include Windows Presentation Foundation,[2] SceneKit on macOS,[13] and PHIGS.

Schematic explanation of an immediate mode graphics API in contrast

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jin, Zhefan (May 2006). "Retained-Mode Parallel Graphics Rendering for Cooperative Design Environments". 2006 10th International Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work in Design. pp. 1–6. doi:10.1109/CSCWD.2006.253142. ISBN 1-4244-0164-X. S2CID 5825966.
  2. ^ a b c Quinn Radich (May 30, 2018). "Retained Mode Versus Immediate Mode". Win32 apps. Microsoft. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  3. ^ stevewhims. "Predication queries - Win32 apps". Retrieved 2022-12-09.
  4. ^ Feldmeier, Alex (October 12, 2013). "GUI Programming". UWP Computer Science and Software Engineering Technical Report. Retrieved 22 December 2019. Retained mode has been the standard for years. Just about every GUI is in retained mode.
  5. ^ QuinnRadich. "Retained Mode Versus Immediate Mode - Win32 apps". Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  6. ^ "OpenGL double buffering". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  7. ^ "DirectX double buffering". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  8. ^ "OpenGL face culling". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  9. ^ "DirectX occlusion culling". Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  10. ^ "OpenGL". Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  11. ^ "OpenGL Driver Support". NVIDIA Developer. 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  12. ^ "OpenGL - The Industry's Foundation for High Performance Graphics". The Khronos Group. 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  13. ^ Weiher, Marcel (Feb 24, 2017). iOS and macOS Performance Tuning: Cocoa, Cocoa Touch, Objective-C, and Swift. Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 9780133085532. Retrieved 22 December 2019. SceneKit and SpriteKit on the other hand are retained-mode APIs