Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 28th Jun 2007 21:39 UTC
Original OSNews Interviews Today we feature a very interesting interview with David Turner, one of the main Freetype developers, discussing the project's past and future. These days, David continues his work in Freetype even after having been hired by Google.
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I gotta say
by Redeeman on Thu 28th Jun 2007 22:58 UTC
Redeeman
Member since:
2006-03-23

i LOVE my fonts, i use freetype 2.1.9, and im really scared of upgrading, cause in my opinion, my fonts are simply perfect. Though its what other people call "fuzzy".

in latest freetype, is it possible to get same rendering as i have now? i do not use hinting.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I gotta say
by miscz on Thu 28th Jun 2007 23:18 UTC in reply to "I gotta say"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

I'm using Freetype, XFT and Cairo I've got from this how-to http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=343670 , and fonts look way different. Without hinting they look very similar to OSX, with full hinting it's like Windows' ClearType but much better.

http://img149.imageshack.us/img149/5831/fontsyd1.png
This screenshot shows text without hinting and with full hinting, it's using subpixel rendering.

Reply Score: 5

RE: I gotta say
by davidturner on Fri 29th Jun 2007 15:37 UTC in reply to "I gotta say"
davidturner Member since:
2007-06-29

if you selected "no hints" in your Gnome/KDE font dialog, you'll get exactly the same results, independently of the version of FreeType installed on your system...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I gotta say
by Redeeman on Fri 29th Jun 2007 23:18 UTC in reply to "RE: I gotta say"
Redeeman Member since:
2006-03-23

this is the settings:
http://img530.imageshack.us/my.php?image=kdefontsettingszh8.png

that makes me quite happy, knowing that i can upgrade without having to worry.

Reply Score: 1

Ubuntu/Debian's fonts
by ubit on Thu 28th Jun 2007 23:14 UTC
ubit
Member since:
2006-09-08

Whenever I use Ubuntu I always go into the Gnome font panel and set it to "no hinting". Otherwise the fonts are unbearable for me. Does anyone know why they don't just turn on the autohinter like Red Hat/Fedora do?

Great interview BTW.

Reply Score: 2

this is how mine are:
by Redeeman on Thu 28th Jun 2007 23:30 UTC
Redeeman
Member since:
2006-03-23

http://img528.imageshack.us/my.php?image=kpdfconfia2.png
this is in KDE apps.

and this is in gtk+2 apps(is is from xchat):
http://img530.imageshack.us/my.php?image=xchatfontstw5.png

and this is how i want them ;)

Reply Score: 3

High res displays
by Touvan on Thu 28th Jun 2007 23:42 UTC
Touvan
Member since:
2006-09-01

I can't wait until extremely high resolution displays are common, and hinting simply doesn't make sense any more. I suspect that'll start to happen even before that patent runs out. (only two years, I'm an optimist) :-)

I'm also in the camp that prefers Mac OS X/Safari 3 font rendering (I even prefer Safari on Windows just for that - now if I could only remember my OSNews username/password which is stored in Firefox ;-P ).

Reply Score: 4

RE: High res displays
by pepa on Fri 29th Jun 2007 02:25 UTC in reply to "High res displays"
pepa Member since:
2005-07-08

Couldn't you just look the username/password up (Preferences, Privacy, Passwords)? The only catch is that it's not easy when you have loads of passwords remembered. I often let it sort on Username, because the Site entry is quite variable.

Reply Score: 3

Nice
by thebluesgnr on Fri 29th Jun 2007 01:33 UTC
thebluesgnr
Member since:
2005-11-14

That interview was a nice read, thanks for posting. Only one correction though:

Also, I still don't understand why Debian and Ubuntu keep distributing patent-infringing code in FreeType, while they keep MP3 and DVD playback out of their normal installs. I'm not even sure it's DFSG compliant...

Debian installs MP3 and DVD playback by default.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Nice
by davidturner on Fri 29th Jun 2007 15:38 UTC in reply to "Nice"
davidturner Member since:
2007-06-29

I stand corrected for Debian, but this is still true for Ubuntu, which I find kind of silly, really...

Now that they're selling commercial support, Apple could well stick them with a huge fine if it wanted to.

Reply Score: 3

Good point about Mac Fonts
by bsharitt on Fri 29th Jun 2007 04:58 UTC
bsharitt
Member since:
2005-07-07

I personally like the OS X font rendering over ClearType, but like others I don find it a bit annoying on Windows for no other reason than it being different. Reguardless of what you have as far as font rendring goes, uniformity is generally a must.

Reply Score: 3

Great
by predictor on Fri 29th Jun 2007 06:49 UTC
predictor
Member since:
2006-11-30

David and the team are geniouses. I decided to attempt a port of FreeType to my operating system last year, and expected it to occupy a couple of weeks.

To my big surprise, the code only depends on a small subset of C99 and plugging it into almost any kind of architecture and build system is really easy.

I wish all coders was this quality minded.

End result? My tiny OS has better looking fonts than Windows :-)

Edited 2007-06-29 06:50

Reply Score: 2

Fuzzy = Better? Huh?
by Core Duo on Fri 29th Jun 2007 09:47 UTC
Core Duo
Member since:
2007-06-24

The thing is, it's pretty easy to get used to the fuzziness

While I respect and appreciate the work of David, I have a hard time being convinced by the fact that fuzzy fonts are better. Granted that fonts that use ClearType on Windows are reshaped and are not authentic, but at least they have better contrast. Unless you plan to write printed artwork in an advertising company, I think it's not worth having to pass through the fuzzyness punishment.

I'm also having a hard time believing that he hasn't tried Windows Vista at least one time to see how fonts look like on the new version of Windows. After all, fonts on Windows has been a reference for many people. I've seen many requests on the Freetype mailing list to know how to make fonts look like those on Windows. He may not like Windows, but at least trying it would be interesting.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Fuzzy = Better? Huh?
by ValiSystem on Fri 29th Jun 2007 13:05 UTC in reply to "Fuzzy = Better? Huh?"
ValiSystem Member since:
2006-02-28

but at least they have better contrast

My experience is that high contrast strains the eye, and create some curious reaction in how image is perceived by the brain. To me, high contrast fonts create a kind of bright glow around characters, and with high density the glow goes over other character, making them very difficult to read. So as you can guess i prefer fuzzy rendering, and i often sigh after Mac OS X font rendering. Since breezy & feisty, font rendering is much better though.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Fuzzy = Better? Huh?
by apoclypse on Fri 29th Jun 2007 13:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Fuzzy = Better? Huh?"
apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

You should see Gutsy. Its beautiful. If I can notice a difference then they must have definitely improved. I personally like OSX's font rendering it works great on OSX itself but in safari on windows it looks off due to the lack of uniformity.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fuzzy = Better? Huh?
by archiesteel on Fri 29th Jun 2007 14:41 UTC in reply to "Fuzzy = Better? Huh?"
archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

Unless you plan to write printed artwork in an advertising company, I think it's not worth having to pass through the fuzzyness punishment.


It's a question of personal preferences. I *really* prefer the OS X/Freetype way of rendering fonts. Then again, I use rather high resolutions (1280x768 on my laptop, 1600x1200 on my desktop) so the fuzziness is barely noticeable.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fuzzy = Better? Huh?
by davidturner on Fri 29th Jun 2007 15:36 UTC in reply to "Fuzzy = Better? Huh?"
davidturner Member since:
2007-06-29

it's all about preferences. there is no universal "best" setting so anyone is entitled to his own opinion. You're free to like high-contrast better, which is exactly why there is a auto-hinter (or truetype bytecode interpreter) in FreeType. See, it's not like I was limiting your choices...

And I still think that it's pretty easy to get "used" to the fuzziness. that doesn't mean you'll get all hot and warm about it though :-)

regarding Vista, there are plenty of screenshots on the Internet to know exactly what it looks like. I just didn't feel the need to buy a new computer just to look at that.

Edited 2007-06-29 15:40

Reply Score: 4

RE: Fuzzy = Better? Huh?
by Alex Forster on Fri 29th Jun 2007 20:25 UTC in reply to "Fuzzy = Better? Huh?"
Alex Forster Member since:
2005-08-12

You're not alone. I think ClearType is beautiful. It achieves the contrast of aliased with three times the detail. I mean, that's what every filtering scheme hopes to ultimately achieve, right? If so, ClearType sets the bar.

And according to the ClearType patent, the glyphs are only resized horizontally/vertically. No points are moved, so the tails on your 'y' will still look as curvy as ever.

Edited 2007-06-29 20:27

Reply Score: 3

Trying to understand...
by iiifrank on Fri 29th Jun 2007 16:18 UTC
iiifrank
Member since:
2006-05-18

Excuse me for my ignorance...I'm trying to understand a bit of what is meant by "fuzzy". I'm running a few distributions (FC6, F7, and Ubuntu Feisty) at the moment, all of which have an LCD display. On each of these I configure gnome to use subpixel smoothing, which enables full hinting. To me, this looks outstanding...probably better than Windows XP (I have not seen Vista) and MacOS X.

Are the "fuzzy" proponents saying that they like it better when you disable hinting? For gnome, this would mean going into Details, checking None for hinting, and leaving smoothing at subpixel? When I do this, yes, the font gets fuzzier and I can see more blue and red bordering each character. Is this what you prefer?

Reply Score: 1

David
by rx182 on Fri 29th Jun 2007 17:24 UTC
rx182
Member since:
2005-07-08

I got a question for you, Mr. Turner ;-)

I'm one of those who HATE fuzzy fonts. CRT or LCD: it doesn't matter. I can't browse the web with a default Ubuntu setup. My eyes hurt after 5 minutes.

However, with auto-hinter, things get better. I love high-contrast. I loved the days of bitmap fonts. Unfortunately, a problem remains: fonts sizes are incorrect.

I use Tahoma, Times New Roman, Courier New, Arial and Verdana. I use Ubuntu (Feisty) and I have xorg.conf's DisplaySize set in a way that makes Xorg think im using a 96dpi display. This is a common trick and Windows does the same. I also have Xft.dpi set to 96dpi. But for a reason I still doesn't know, fonts sizes are incorrect. Tahoma, for exemple, always renders too small while Verdana renders too big. Courier New is too small too. I think Times New Roman is ok.

I can't simply tell Gnome to use Tahoma 8pt for menus and dialogs to mimic Windows because it will be too small. I have to make compromises all the time.

Is this normal?
Thank you!

Reply Score: 4

David, again
by rx182 on Fri 29th Jun 2007 17:47 UTC
rx182
Member since:
2005-07-08

I have another question for you, David!

What's the freetype equivalent of the 'standard' method to smooth edges of screen fonts used by Windows? It doesn't introduced fuzziness and make Windows fonts even more enjoyable.

Thank you!

Reply Score: 4

ClearType mimic should be a goal
by tuxedo on Fri 29th Jun 2007 20:58 UTC
tuxedo
Member since:
2007-06-24

I think to date there hasn't been a better font rendering on screen than ClearType. I'm not a Microsoft fan at all, I disapprove their philosophy and politics, but I agree that fonts rendered with Cleartype are clean, have high contrast and you don't get tired after a day of work in front of your computer.

There has been some effort to enhance fonts on Linux. Fonts on Linux are pretty good (ie: on CentOS). I think they still can be improved, and ClearType should be a goal (maybe it is already). Then, if some people prefer fuzzy fonts, they can turn ClearType off.

Reply Score: 5

juno_106 Member since:
2007-06-24

I second this. ClearType is not just an unjustified request by a minority of users. There has been studies made by the University of Texas and by Microsoft that show that most people prefered ClearType, and that ClearType improves readability. You can say the Microsoft study is questionable but what would they gain lying? I think the free desktop (Linx, *BSD, Solaris) should take the best of both worlds, that would be in this case implement something like ClearType, but change the name, maybe CleanType, I'm out of imagination today (Friday evening) :-)

It's not about choosing something a small number of people prefer, it's about taking into account the result of 2 independant studies and implementing what the majority prefers or feels more comfortable with.

Here's the list of documents of the surveys and studies on ClearType:

Study - ClearType helps - Clemson, SC. - 11 April 2001
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/links/news.aspx?NID=1885

ClearType = Clear Mind
http://blogs.msdn.com/fontblog/archive/2005/12/13/503236.aspx

University of Texas - A resource for investigating how people read on screens
http://www.ischool.utexas.edu/%7Ect/chi_p618.pdf

And these are blog entries:

Cleartype improves reading comprehension, study says
http://scobleizer.com/2005/10/29/cleartype-improves-reading-compreh...

What's Wrong With Apple's Font Rendering?
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000884.html

Reply Score: 5

I can't understand!
by rx182 on Sat 30th Jun 2007 00:24 UTC
rx182
Member since:
2005-07-08

I do agree with most of you: ClearType beats Linux and OSX fonts renderers.

But ClearType is no good compared to the standard Windows fonts renderer.

Take a look:
Standard: http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/5431/standardjz8.png
cleartype: http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/7873/cleartypeku2.png

I don't understand why people prefer ClearType over standard. ClearType produces fuzzy output. I'm using a 400$ LCD monitor and I can see the artifacts introduced by sub-pixel rendering.

Why do people like fuzzy fonts? What's wrong with the good old fonts? Help me understand...

Reply Score: 3

RE: I can't understand!
by Eugenia on Sat 30th Jun 2007 00:27 UTC in reply to "I can't understand!"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

I much prefer ClearType too. Easier on the eyes, because what you call "fuzziness" actually helps interpret the characters faster.

Reply Score: 1

RE: I can't understand!
by hechacker1 on Sat 30th Jun 2007 06:29 UTC in reply to "I can't understand!"
hechacker1 Member since:
2005-08-01

I used to say the same thing.

"Standard" windows fonts without hinting only look good because the fonts are precisely lined up with the pixels. This effect is achievable in Linux too.

Example:
Hinting:
http://ordorica.org/misc/gnomedesktop.png (Old freetype)
No Hinting:
http://ordorica.org/misc/xfce.png

Unfortunately, it also means the font has to be of high quality in the first place. MS Windows truetype fonts qualify, but good luck with various linux fonts (except for DejaVu). Its funny how the first fonts I always download in linux are MS fonts. (I know they are not strictly for linux either)

The pictures in the Xorg + Font wiki came from my laptop:
http://gentoo-wiki.com/HOWTO_Xorg_and_Fonts

Since then however my font settings (and Freetype) has changed. Updated pictures are due.

Once you switch to cleartype, you'll never go back. Another thing: Cleartype fonts look best on a DVI (or digital connection) LCD. VGA doesn't do them justice (for the lack of sub-pixel precision). In fact, VGA just makes almost any LCD monitor blurry (comparatively).

You have to remember that cleartype contrast settings are also changeable:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys....

Personally, I cannot get used to Mac OS "fuzzy" fonts even though they are technically the most correct.
http://ordorica.org/misc/safari.vs.firefox.png

Moral of the story? With enough time on any one font system, my eyes will adapt. Each time I "prefer" my current fonts and can't imagine switching.

Reply Score: 1

I'll pass on the fuzzy OSX fonts
by Lambda on Sat 30th Jun 2007 10:54 UTC
Lambda
Member since:
2006-07-28

So I disagree with David on that, but "Linux" fonts had been a sore point for many years, and these days they look great.

Thanks David.

Reply Score: 2

erm
by Redeeman on Sat 30th Jun 2007 15:36 UTC
Redeeman
Member since:
2006-03-23

cleartype is totally horrible, as is default winblows.

default winblows will show non antialiased very ugly looking fonts, and if you enable cleartype, well, the only way to describe it is that it looks as though the fonts are like one tenth of a pixel thick(ofcourse this can not be), and are basically impossible to read.

Fonts in linux have been very good for me since i started caring about my fonts, that was around 2003 i think.

Reply Score: 0

Status of Freetype in Debian
by tyrione on Sat 30th Jun 2007 17:11 UTC
tyrione
Member since:
2005-11-21

Freetype 2.2.1 is in the repository. What security issues are there that keep 2.3.4 from being ready for Sid?

Reply Score: 2