Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Font rendering on Windows and Mac

Introduction of Safari to Windows has rehashed old discussions about which font rendering is better, Windows ClearType way or Mac OS X way. My experience so far tells me that it is largely a matter of habit: each and every Windows user I talked to thinks that Mac font smoothing is “shit”, “unreadable”, “hurts” etc. Mac users use the same adjectives, just vice-versa.

Here’s what some long-time Windows users say…

The always-opinionated Joel Spolsky says this:

Safari even managed to bring the inferior font rendering of the OS X platform to Windows, no easy trick.

On another hand, this post is perfect example of “I fucked up writing on impulse, realized my main argument is mute and then dug my self even deeper trying to cover my mistake with half-ass attempts to irony”. On my office computer (Pentium 4 3GHz, 2GB RAM) 1st time Safari startup took 5s. Joel later wrote a quality post on font rendering, which is usually his norm.

Jeff Atwood obviously agrees with Joel:

I’m curious why Apple’s default font rendering strategies, to my eye – and to the eyes of at least two other people – are visibly inferior to Microsoft’s on typical LCD displays

Jeff also wrote a great article on font smoothing.

Mac users are another story

Jeffrey Zeldman uses examples to drive his point:

It’s worth pointing out that these tests were done on Macintosh computers, which are known for their superior handling of text…

Jon Hicks clearly agrees:

Its wonderful looking at a website on XP, and seeing gorgeous text smoothing.

Truth is somewhere in the middle

Me, as a long time Windows user who have long time ago fallen in love with ClearType but am increasingly using Mac, agree in parts with both.

Non-italic font smoothing is better with ClearType, but is ugly with most sans-serif italics, like Verdana or Tahoma. Mac handles this much better. Here are few examples, made using Firefox 2 and Safari 3 beta, on Windows:

Tahoma rendering in Firefox and Safari

Mac rendering to me looks better. Which is the reason why on this site I use different fonts for italic and non-italic styles.

But, like I said, it’s a matter of habit. I even know few people who disable all font smoothing and use blocky fonts. They are usually non-front-end programmers. ;)

@media 2007

This was my first big conference, thus do not look for comparisons with SxSW and other events. There are probably plenty of people that will do that. I just want to briefly summarize my impressions.

The lovely illustrationOrganization was great. Registration was nicely organized, small queues, with cheerful fellow getting people to the appropriate points. The catering and the food itself - both lunch and cookies - were superb. Really tasty, warm and cute. There were no tables to seat down though, which was not that big of the problems. The floors are clean, thus everyone just sat down and ate their meal.

The sound was perfect (apart from one part of Håkon’s presentation), both from speakers and attendees asking questions using a wireless mic. I don’t believe a better job could have been done there.

Presentations were good and interesting. Most speakers use Macs, thus Keynote ruled here, with Hakon using HTML and Opera’s projection mode - as you would expect from the Opera’s CTO. With english not being my native language, I did not have problems following anything - except Joe Clark’s presentation. He speaks so quickly and seems to use so much references that I had a hard time understanding anything. Add the fact that there were no slides shown - only examples for the topic he covered…well I left before the end.

I also had to miss Mark Boulton’s presentation which I’m really sorry about. However, I had a previously arranged meeting with Sony repair engineer. My laptop’s CPU fan was failing and had to be replaced. I spent 3 days trying to convince Sony phone support that it was not a software problem and thus repair underwent during the conference. We were quite a sight in the hallway - entire laptop in pieces because damn fan is screwed from under the motherboard. It took an hour to get it done and the guy was really quick at that. Piecing all back together went without a hitch, with just a BIOS in/out needed.


Along with terrific (Leopard) announcements at WWDC today, Apple has unveiled the new design for entire web site. Much more shades of gray, really pleasing for my eyes.

New design

It almost validates, with just 3 HTML error vs. HTML 4.01 Transitional, while CSS is far from valid - 35 errors, almost 100 warnings.

They will hopefully fix this. Actually, in the light of today’s announcements, it’s almost an obligation. At the very end, when talking about iPhone app development, Jobs said that all you need is standard compliant web pages.

If iPhone catches traction as Apple is expecting, this could potentially turn a lot of high-profile web apps into standards waters. Potentially really, as no knows what the impact will be.

It doesn’t hurt to hope though. I’m certain every little web-2.0 hopeful out there would really want to run on iPhone.

Off to @media London

I’m already in London, strollling a bit while awaiting @media 2007 to start on Thursday.

I’m at the Thistle city Barbican hotel, thus if you are attending the conference and staying there, let me know so we can have a few drinks.

My brother Damir is coming from Sweden and I’m certain the conference would be a great experience. I’m really looking forward to meet more people.