Best font rendering engine

Tobias Wolf towolf at
Sat Sep 9 18:27:05 BST 2006

Am Samstag, den 09.09.2006, 14:31 +0100 schrieb Alex Jones:
> Hi Johan + list
> On Sat, 2006-09-09 at 15:06 +0300, Johan Kiviniemi wrote:
> > On Sat, Sep 09, 2006 at 02:53:34PM +0200, Fabio Dell'Aria wrote:
> > > Why did not add in the Edgy official tree the "David Turner" font
> > > patch, able to big increase the font rendering?
> > 
> > > Screenshot:
> > > 
> > 
> > In that screenshot, the fonts are rendered without hinting, and thus
> > they are blurry. I'd hate to use that.
> This is simply incorrect, the fonts ARE hinted, they have just had a
> more effective filter applied. It's called FIR and you can read more
> about it here: <>

In both screenshots FreeType’s ‘light hinting’ mode is used.

> As a side-note, unhinted fonts look MUCH nicer than hinted fonts IMO. It
> is always about taste. As it happens, Mac OS X uses unhinted fonts -
> they retain their perceived shape perfectly which is more important to
> some people than the mythical loss in readability.

People have been experimenting with filtering when hinting is completely
off on the freetype-devel list. I think without any hinting it will be
hard to achieve faithful letter outlines that do not excessively bleed
into gray values – the pixel grid is simply too low-res. MS typography
began to use hinting instructions in fonts that are specifically built
for later subpixel filtering. In contrast to OSX this is done with the
maxim “optimize shape contrast” while keeping some faithful
representation of the original outline. The superhinted appearance that
was very popular in the past is being (or has been) phased out on nearly
all major platforms.
One advice would be to deactivate the byte-code interpreter and switch
to the UNPATENTED_HINTING (a.k.a the Autohinter) mode; it is less


> > Regards,
> -- 
> Alex Jones <alex at>

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