Resolution indpendence

Steven J Newbury steve at
Mon Jun 30 11:40:37 PDT 2008

On Mon, 2008-06-30 at 21:03 +0300, Daniel Stone 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.
I really don't understand this argument.  Surely this is only the case
because most people use 1024x768:
[ ]

Yes, that's right, most people set the resolution of their display to a
value lower than the display hw optimimum so that text (and image) sizes
are what they are accustomed to. Most(!) people work around the fact the
96dpi hack by adujsting the resolution!

> > 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.
I'm sorry, but computers *should* act in accordance with rigid priciples
otherwise what's the point?  That's why we have standards, no?

> > > 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
This just makes no sense.  If the true DPI is 220 on a decent size
screen, text at 12pt will be unreadable by most if the system DPI is
fixed to 96!  It will only give the expected (readable) result by either
setting a lower screen resolution or by using the true DPI to render the

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