Summary (Was Re: Resolution indpendence)

Mohan Parthasarathy suruti94 at
Mon Jun 30 11:23:11 PDT 2008


I never thought that this topic would fire off a major debate :-) I want to
and summarize what people are trying to say here so that we can come to some
of conclusion (possibly)

>From my side, it all triggered off when i was reading the following:

and the latest leopard release has some specific notes on this:

I don't know how this is any different from Windows allowing the user to
from 96 dpi to anything else depending on the screen resolution/user needs.
looks like Quartz in the olden days assumed 72 dpi for monitors and it is
changing now
to suit  higher dpis.

Please read

to see how this is still not completely solved in the case of Apple. There
are still
some quirks.

The original question that i raised is what should application do in Linux?
I guess
some applications provide "Font size" option like Word Processors, Browsers
helps adjust to different resolutions/user needs. You can't assume a
reasonble size
to start with. Recently, i got to play around with the browser on HTC touch
which has a VGA screen with 260 dpi. By default the font size is so small
that it
is almost unreadable to my eyes. Perhaps, it is targeted at younger people
Sure, it could almost get the whole page in that small screen. The point
here is
that as long as there is font size provided by applications, it should be
I don't know how else one could solve this problem.

But this does not solve all the problems. How about handling the UI
scaling automatically that is beyond font rendering ? SVG (like WPF in
windows) help to
some extent but the system needs to handle this automatically for many
applications depending
on the screen resolution/UI. There were many opinions on this topic.

- One point of view is that it does not matter Fixed DPI like 96 or 120 as
  in windows is sufficient. Scaling is just not about fonts but also the
  whole UI

- Gnome detects dpi and uses right size fonts except there are some bugs
  need fixing. Some folks feel that Gnome works reasonably well.

- 96 dpi is not enough, use the real dpi of the screen. Using the real dpi
means the
  UI needs to be designed with the max dpi in mind, but then may not look
good at other

- DPI is not the only factor, distance and viewing angle also matters. We
can arrive
  at a normalized DPI which can then be used to scale UI. But some
  folks argue that it does not matter as majority of computer screens are
  at the same distance. Videoprojectors can be handled separately with some
  basic assumptions on distance, scaling etc.

- Screens as high as 200 dpi are appearing. OLPC and embedded devices
  are reaching high dpi. Look at HTC black diamond with 260 dpi

So, with so many views, it is not clear as to what the right solution here

I have not possibly summarized everyones view. Am i missing anything ? Can
better understanding than me summarize this issue so that it will be useful
the future. Or we want to debate this forever :-)

thanks a lot,

On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 11:03 AM, Daniel Stone <daniel at> wrote:

> On Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 06:21:22PM +0200, Nicolas Mailhot wrote:
> > Le Ven 27 juin 2008 17:50, Daniel Stone a écrit :
> > > 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)
> >
> > Actually, no. You have two sources of computer text:
> >
> > 1. system applications that should just use the user default font size
> > -> have a setting where the user enters his preferred font, the
> > preferred  size for it in pt, and have apps obey it (with % sizes for
> > titles)
> >
> > 2. documents produced by someone else, that may use different prefs
> > from the ones of the user
> > -> all the apps that manage those documents have a built-in zoom
> > system, and it's stupid to even try to correct all those with a
> > system-wide dpi kludge because every external document won't use the
> > same font sizes anyway and the correction will vary document per
> > document (you can try to automate "match to the system font size later
> > but it'd be a dynamic document-specific adjustment not a fixed fake
> > dpi value)
> >
> > So "the thing you need to change for documents" is document-specific.
> No, because everyone except desktop publishers deals in a standard,
> well-understood set of point sizes, which they expect to translate at
> about 96dpi, instead of maybe reallyreallytiny or LUDICROUSLY BIG.
> > And it's different from "the thing you need to change for the desktop
> > gui" where you have *not* reason not to use pt size directly assuming
> > you kill all the dpi forcing kludges which have make it lose a
> > specific meaning on many systems.
> I'd be more than happy for everything to be redesignated as 'size'
> rather than points, because as you say, it stops the conflation of the
> two use cases.  One use case involves people who just want to use their
> computer and have it behave as they expect.  The other involve people
> who get very upset when their computer behaves in a manner that's not
> completely in accordance with certain rigid principles.
> > > and 'thing which must match my physical
> > > properties exactly as I'm doing typesetting' (statistically, no-one
> > > cares about this).
> >
> > Do you have any study that says users would not like this? They only
> > do not care because it's been broken so long (just as they didn't care
> > about AA text when the only thing available was pixelated bitmap
> > fonts).
> >
> > > As long as the
> > > two
> > > are fundamentally in opposition,
> >
> > They're only in fundamental opposition because some people insist in
> > abusing physical scaling to change font sizes instead of
> > (revolutionnary idea) just specifying different size defaults
> Look, I'm happy that you care about this stuff.  Really, because we need
> more people to tell us that we're screwing up and going wrong.  But
> please trust me that real people don't feel that way.  They see 'size
> 12' (something readable), rather than '12pt' (however many inches).
> Nothing that exists today works at all with high-density displays -- the
> Nokia tablets still just always smash the DPI to 96 or so, because
> surprisingly you have NO ROOM ON YOUR SCREEN AT 220DPI BECAUSE
> Cheers,
> Daniel
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)
> =sYnY
> _______________________________________________
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> xorg at
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