DirectComposition glossary


For apps on Windows 10, we recommend using Windows.UI.Composition APIs instead of DirectComposition. For more info, see Modernize your desktop app using the Visual layer.

This topic defines Microsoft DirectComposition terms.

animation function

A construct that specifies how the value of a single object property changes over a period of time.

animation object

An object that represents a function for animating the properties of another object.

animation segment

The fundamental timing definitions of an animation function; they are the primitives from which more complex and higher level animation functions are built.

back buffer

A rectangle of memory that an application can directly write to. The back buffer is never directly displayed on the monitor.


A group of DirectComposition method calls that are processed atomically.


A color buffer, either with or without an alpha channel, that resides in system or video memory.

border mode

A property of a Microsoft DirectComposition visual that affects how the edges of a bitmap are composed when the bitmap is transformed such that the edges are not axis-aligned with integer coordinates. It also affects how content is clipped at the corners of a clip that has rounded corners, and at the edge of a clip that is transformed such that the edges are not axis-aligned with integer coordinates.

clip object

A object that represents a clip rectangle.

clip rectangle

A set of coordinates that define the area of visual's bitmap content that is drawn on the screen when the bitmap is rendered.


To temporarily prevent Desktop Window Manager (DWM) from drawing a window to the display. Applications typically cloak a window while DirectComposition uses the window's bitmap in a composition.


To submit a batch of commands to DirectCompositionDirectComposition for processing.

composite mode

One of several ways of blending two bitmaps (a source and a destination) to achieve a particular effect.


A collection of bitmaps that are combined and manipulated by applying various transforms, effects, and animations to produce an intended visual result in an application UI.

composition target window

The window to which a visual tree is bound, and in which the resulting composition is drawn.


An operation that modifies how the bitmaps of a visual tree are rasterized, typically by applying a pixel shader.

effect group

A group of bitmap effects that are applied together to modify the rasterization of a visual’s sub-tree.


An iteration of the composition engine that produces a rasterization of the visual tree.

front buffer

A rectangle of memory that is translated by the graphics adapter and displayed on the monitor.

interpolation mode

A property that determines how a bitmap is composed when it is transformed such that there is no one-to-one correspondence between pixels in the bitmap and pixels on the screen.

root visual

The visual from which all other visuals in a visual tree are descended.

swap chain

A collection of one or more back buffers that can be serially presented to the front buffer


A representation of a linear area of display memory that usually resides in the display memory of the display card, although surfaces can exist in system memory.


A matrix that represents a coordinate transformation in either two-dimensional or three-dimensional space.

transform group

A collection of transforms whose matrices are multiplied together in the order in which they are specified in the collection before they are applied to a visual.


An object that contains an optional reference to a bitmap object, and a set of properties that determine where and how the bitmap is rendered to the screen.

visual object

See visual.

visual subtree

A portion of a visual tree consisting of a particular visual and all of its child and descendent visuals.

visual tree

A hierarchical collection of visuals used to create a composition.

windowless swap chain

A swap chain that is associated with a DirectComposition visual object instead of a window.