Resolution indpendence

Nicolas Mailhot nicolas.mailhot at
Sat Jun 28 10:21:59 PDT 2008

Le samedi 28 juin 2008 à 17:24 +0100, Glynn Clements a écrit :
> Nicolas Mailhot wrote:

> I can read courier-12 (7x13) fine; courier-10 (6x10) is too coarse. 
> That has been true of every monitor I have owned, regardless of its
> physical size or resolution.

Fine for you. You claim good eyesight. That's not the case of everyone.
Strangely the people who have good eyesight are the first ones to claim
being authorities on what's legible or not, and deny vehemently what
people with less good eyesight tell them about their beloved bitmap

I don't claim good eyesight. I have the physical examinations to prove
it. You won't make me accept something is easy to read when I can easily
prove myself easily it's not.

> > > > whereas the reverse just isn't true.  So far, i haven't
> > > > seen where any of your ideas can be used to improve scalable font
> > > > rendering.
> > > 
> > > I'm not interested in scalable font rendering. I'm a computer
> > > programmer, not a graphic artist, and
> > 
> > This is pretty evident. Also it's pretty evident the "computer
> > programmer class that can't imagine anything but pixels" is a user
> > minority. It's over-represented when making decisions on software
> > features though (which explains a lot)
> It's not just programmers; it's anyone for whom the use of text
> outweighs the use of graphics 

Stop thinking you're the only one who reads text

> (and DTP is primarily "graphics";

Stop thinking this is all about DTP

> If you're interested in the information itself, the font only matters
> insofar as the text remains legible. It shouldn't be too small to see,
> nor should it be rasterised too crudely, nor should it be blurred.

Not at all, the human brain is trained to ignore known fonts, so
anything that changes the fonts people effectively see is highly
detrimental to reading comfort.

> Using physical dimensions alone cannot work until every monitor has
> pixels so small that they can be ignored (i.e. the situation we have
> with laser printers, where physical dimensions work just fine).

I've proved myself to my satifaction it could work years ago (till one
of your clones saw fit to force a 96dpi value everywhere and make
verything go south)

> > > So you either oversize everything, or you end up having to hack
> > > in a fixed nominal DPI so that the resulting pixel sizes end up as
> > > integers.
> > 
> > So you don't have any pixel asumptions in the UI descriptions, and let
> > software libs compute dimensions, rounding them so they fall on the
> > pixel grid (which is BTW how text rendering already works, and it's more
> > complex than UI dimensionning).
> Libraries don't have enough context. If you're drawing multiple
> entities, it may not matter how you round the coordinates, but it may
> matter that you do so consistently (i.e. don't introduce gaps by
> rounding in opposite directions). But library which only sees
> individual elements rather than the overall picture may be unable to
> achieve this.

You're just short of claiming a computer can not add small amounts of
pixels there.

> > > No, I have had plenty of disagreements with people for all kinds of
> > > reasons, and I don't normally imply quasi-religious motivations. I
> > > describe that position as quasi-religious because I think that it's,
> > > well, quasi-religious. And that's the only way that I can see this
> > > obsession with physical sizes.
> > 
> > It's not an obsession but a requirement. A requirement you go out of
> > your way to frustrate. Don't complain if that puts you in contact with
> > frustrated users.
> Sometimes it's one requirement out of many, sometimes it isn't even a
> requirement. But balancing conflicting requirements is hard, and
> adopting absolutist positions makes everything much simpler.
> Just to clarify, for anyone who may have been confused by your
> mischaracterisations: my problem isn't with supporting physical sizes,
> but with not supporting anything else,

That's not what you say. I've proposed time and time again to support
both and you've always opposed it

>  and failing to support legacy applications from the time when 75 dpi 
> was a perfectly safe assumption

Those apps will go away if they don't adapt.
Legacy assumptions just do not hold anymore (the hardware changed, the
i18n requirements changed, the common encodings changed, etc).

I'm sorry but you can't freeze the world for some apps not updated by
their authors. I'm sure someone will write an emulator so you can
continue to use those apps long after they're not relevant anymore.

> (or programs or data designed for Windows, where 96 dpi is a perfectly
> safe assumption).

It never was. You have a setting to change DPI in windows, even in last
millenium windows versions. You have users massively annoyed when an app
thinks in pixel, even on last millenium windows versions. And Vista
removes the 96dpi assumption altogether.

> If the user specifies 12 point, and the monitor's DPI means that
> equates to 11.9 pixels, should you use:

I know what I'd chose. Do what the user specified. Don't add magic
conversion factors. Don't assume everyone has perfect eyesight. Don't
posit the tech has not moved on in 20 years.

Nicolas Mailhot
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