Resolution indpendence

Daniel Stone daniel at
Fri Jun 27 08:50:43 PDT 2008

On Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 05:40:08PM +0200, Nicolas Mailhot wrote:
> Le Ven 27 juin 2008 17:02, Steven J Newbury a écrit :
> > On Fri, 2008-06-27 at 16:49 +0200, Soeren Sandmann wrote:
> >> (2) The DPI is insufficient to compute any font size anyway because
> >>     the right one also depends on the distance to the screen. You
> >>     really don't want 3 point fonts on a projector. You want
> >>     essentially the same size fonts as on your desktop.
> >>
> > This is true; there should be a viewing distance component too.
> Actually, not. Except for videoprojectors the vast majority of
> computer screens is at about the same distance from viewers, so you
> don't need to correct physical DPI by distance to get about the same
> physical meaning for xxpt size for everyone. And when you have walls
> of screens they definitely are all at the same distance from the
> viewer.
> Embedded is somewhat specific but again what you care is that the
> physical text displayed by your gadget is about the same size when you
> change the pixel density from one gadget generation to the other, not
> about exact angle of view (which can change dynamicaly anyway)

The problem as I see it is the conflation of DPI as 'the thing I need to
change to make my fonts render at a reasonable size because 12pt is the
standard for very reasonably readable text and changing all my documents
as stupid' (users care about) and 'thing which must match my physical
properties exactly as I'm doing typesetting' (statistically, no-one
cares about this).

It'd be nice if we could float the two, so that we had a
resolution-independent standard font size not necessarily related to
DPI, and then screen metrics related to the actual physical properties
of the device for people who care about such things.  As long as the two
are fundamentally in opposition, we're not going to really get anywhere,
but the former will probably win out because of the sheer number of

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