August 19, 2002

SmoothType

People with respectable opinions have been bad mouthing anti-aliased text working its way into web browsers. I don’t understand their argument. I dig it. When Adobe Type Manager brought smoothing to desktop publishing I hated it, at first. It was harder to line up baselines with guides when you were dragging them to fuzzy edges. Who needs that? But the slick, smooth edges and well-rendered type grow on you. As screen resolutions increase, font edges have to become smooth. Pixel fonts simply can’t translate to high resolution. And higher resolution is inarguably where screens are going. Mac OS X is swimming with smooth type and I think it looks fantastic. The latest build of Mozilla renders type beautifully on OS X.

Am I wrong? =-)

[Also: Nani sent in her South Park persona. It looks like the Studio has been enhanced.]

Previous Post
Next Post

Comments

Nick Runco

yes.

Mark Shewmaker

I agree with you on this on Walt. Now get back to Banned! ;-)

Derek Gomez

I love antialiasing and all. But who knows how much performance is sacrificed with every glyph being altered based on its neighbors, the background, the size, etc.? It would be nice to have an on/off switch for certain things — you gotta admit Verdana wasn’t made to be antialiased….

Jessyca Wallace

Maybe I’m just stuck in my ways. But when I switched font-smoothing on in XP I just thought, “Ew. It’s blurry now.” I already have a hard time seeing, I don’t need any extra help in that department… Shall I send some screenies? Perhaps Windoze just failed to execute the procedure as eloquently as the exalted Apple.

Jessyca Wallace

BTW, Walt, thanks for saying I have respectable opinions ;-)

Nick Runco

i really don’t think the anti-aliasing by ATM is comparable. that was smoothing to create a preview of the print environment, for type that was designed for print. we are talking about screen fonts. type that was specifically designed to have a sharp clean appearance at a mere ~10px tall. smoothing those faces is not only using the fonts in a way they were not designed, but as jessyca pointed out “blurry.” and it’s true. that’s what happens when you try to smooth something that small. would you ever dream of using verdana, or arial in a print layout? no! that’s not what it was made for. so why would you compromise it’s purpose on-screen? would you try and smooth mini7? (or even the type that you use at the top of this page?) it’s just doesn’t work at smaller sizes, and that’s all the web is right now. i say give us the option, make it part of the CSS rendering. ‘font-smooothing: none;’ for instance.

Rob Christensen

I actually tend to agree with Walt on this issue. Why? Screen resolutions have steadily expanded in recent years which makes anti-aliased fonts look sharper. Granted, on lower resolution displays, it’s not quite as impressive, usually characterized by a blurriness. On higher resolution displays (though, of course, it various from font to font), anti-aliased fonts look fine.

In addition, I’m greatly annoyed with the status quo - web sites authors having a toolbox of about four web styles of web fonts (Arial, Verdana, Helvetica and Georgia). With a greater selection of fonts at their disposal, web developers can differentiate their sites better. Certain display fonts are truly designed from the ground up for reading on a computer screen. However, using anti-aliased text for headers and navigation systems would help enrich the experience of the many drab-looking web sites found through out the web today.