eben at eyebytes.com
Fri Sep 21 19:01:04 BST 2007
I am a type designer and I want to suggest a different path. I do
admit that this isn't going to be helpful immediately but is instead
a long term kind of idea.
The problem that Linux font rendering has as far as I can see - which
may not be far enough I will admit readily - is that fonts designed
for one rendering scheme are being forced into another one. It's a
square peg round hole thing. It may work pretty well - in the sense
that it is usable - but it's probably never going to be really really
good. And even fonts designed for Linux are still using essentially
the square peg as their frame of reference.
I suggest that you *may* ( not should ) want to accept a specific
rendering scheme and instead of working to make existing fonts look
less bad - focus on developing fonts that take advantage of and are
designed for that specific rendering scheme.
It's a radical suggestion. I admit that. But there are some great
reasons to consider it.
One reason: that is actually what MS did with clear type, and true
type - they came up with some theoretically better type-tech and then
designed type specifically for it. I am not holding MS up as some
kind of apogee of type nirvana, but I am saying that that method of
development is likely to yield more satisfying results.
The natural question that will come up is what about sizes/hinting
which is something I have not adequitely addressed in the comments
Rather than suggest that you come up with your own hinting scheme I
think that the best answer is that you may want to build an OS & font
function that automatically supports & swaps size specific outlines
rather than developing alternative hinting models.
For those of you saying 'what?' or 'huh?' at this point; Sorry. I
explain more fully: When hinting is used it distorts a core form into
a new one for screen. The core shape is used for printing and for
large sizes. What I am suggesting has it's roots in the fine
tradition of Metal type - size specific outlines. With size-specific
outlines you can tune the outline to the ppem or pixels in a direct
rather than indirect manner.
It means writing a complex driver to swap forms on the fly - but also
means that type designers can use their eyes to see what looks good
on the OS in an immediate manner rather than after a tedious round of
hinting - which may or may not be interpreted correctly or even be used.
It's a startlingly simple, pleasant & distributable approach. It
isn't my idea though.
What I am getting at is explained by the originator of the idea,
David Berlow; here:
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