g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon Valley-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry and political bile.

btman at grotto11 dot com

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
16:27 - I turn my back for four days...

(top)
Sheesh—I can't even go to Maine for a college friend's wedding aboard a Maine Windjammer schooner without Apple doing something wacky like releasing Safari for Windows.

Word on the grapevine is that the Windows version uses Mac-style antialiasing, which strikes me as a grand idea—every time I look at any Windows browser, whether IE or Mozilla, my eyes start to squirm out of my head (note: click "17" in the upper right) looking at the funky rainbowy subpixel rendering and the spidery non-WYSIWYG letter forms. Via David G., Joel Spolsky has some thoughts on why this is so:

Typically, Apple chose the stylish route, putting art above practicality, because Steve Jobs has taste, while Microsoft chose the comfortable route, the measurably pragmatic way of doing things that completely lacks in panache. To put it another way, if Apple was Target, Microsoft would be Wal-Mart.

Interesting. But I'll be looking forward to the days when I can write for Safari and not feel like it's just some set of ghettoized deviants who see my sites the way I intend, even if it's really all my fault if I don't test in IE and Mozilla and everything else anyway.

UPDATE: There's no way that I'm the only one for whom Windows does things to text like this (IE6):

Or this (IE7, and this is after running the ClearType Tuner thingy):


As opposed to, say, this (Safari, in which bold and italics actually work, antialiasing doesn't turn text into a painful blur, and it doesn't look like each word got a random kerning value picked out of a hat):


I mean, Windows habitually confronts me with stuff like:


And... everyone's okaaaaay with this?

UPDATE: Stephen Rider has thoughts.

Back to Top

9 comments

1. Chris M - 18:27 Tue 6/12/2007 ( email )

'click "6" in the upper right' -- did you mean "3"? Or "23"?

2. Mumblix Grumph - 23:13 Tue 6/12/2007 ( email )

Honest to God...what is it with Mac people? On my Windows machine, text and graphics look like, well, text and graphics. What the hell does it look like on a Mac? Did you folks have a bad experience back in 1993 with a 80286 running on a 12 inch black and white monitor?
I downloaded Safari, and OH MY GOD!!!!! It's a web browser. (shrug)

3. James - 23:44 Tue 6/12/2007 ( email )

And of course Linux lets you have it whichever way you want, but has a confusing interface to configure it http://www.beranger.org/index.php?article=2150

4. Brian Tiemann - 04:36 Wed 6/13/2007 ( email | web )

Whoops—no, I meant 17, actually. But 3 and 23 work equally well...

5. Mumblix Grumph - 06:27 Wed 6/13/2007 ( email )

And... everybody's okaaaaay with this?

No. Who the hell still uses Internet Explorer?
I use Firefox.
As to text...maybe it's my screen, but I have no problem reading any text unless it's super tiny.

6. Jared - 06:54 Wed 6/13/2007 ( email | web )

Brian - I've found with newer computers and Windows XP that if you're not running a monitor at its optimal (read: highest) resolution, the ClearType will actually make things worse. At work, we've got one computer that's set at 1024x768, and with ClearType on (Windows setting or just-IE setting) you can't read a damned thing - much like your second picture.

However, I will say that I think you're just not used to Windows font-rendering, because Safari for Windows makes everything look too blurry and wrong - even with the smoothing set to "light." Yuck.

Also, 17? What's that about - I'm confused (fairly typical, I assure you)

7. Dave - 10:00 Wed 6/13/2007 ( email | web )

Quote: Honest to God...what is it with Mac people? On my Windows machine, text and graphics look like, well, text and graphics. What the hell does it look like on a Mac?

Better text and graphics. Much, much better, sometimes. Mac type rendering is arguably superior; making a living as I do in the field of desktop publishing, my trained eye agrees. (Windows type frequently makes my eyes hurt.) There tends to be less of a difference in images, but even there Macs are sometimes demonstrably better.

To address the “people like what they’re familiar with” argument before it arises: I used both systems, sometimes side by side, for about fifteen years, from the late eighties until about five or six years ago. XP and Vista are better than their predecessors, but if my glimpses are representative, they still haven’t caught up.

Quote: I downloaded Safari, and OH MY GOD! It's a web browser.

It certainly is. Again speaking from the world of desktop publishing, Safari makes the clouds part, the sun shine down, and heavenly choirs sing: it is simple, robust, fast, and adheres to HTML and CSS standards. Internet Explorer is not simple, not robust, not fast, and does not adhere to any standard known to man.

8. Pixy Misa - 20:13 Thu 6/14/2007 ( email | web )

I'm working on a new blogging tool that needs to address the widest possible audience, and I don't have an up-to-date Mac, so I grabbed the Safari beta as soon as I heard about it.

Thoughts: On the one hand, the text anti-aliasing is too heavy. The visual cues for letters are the edges; soften them too much and it becomes harder to read rather than easier. The adjustments you can make seem to only change the weight of the text, not the degree of anti-aliasing, so it doesn't address (much less solve) the problem. All the text looks subtly out-of-focus, which certainly causes me eyestrain.

On the other hand, the image resizing is unquestionably superior to IE, Firefox or Opera. Safari is (I'm guessing) doing a bilinear resize where the other three are simply doing nearest-neighbour.

On the third hand, no-one who cares about web design or typography uses IE except to check that their sites still work in it.

On the fourth hand, when I ran the installer my machine locked up so badly that I thought I'd had a disk failure. I'm not sure how Apple manage this, but their software tends to behave very badly on Windows.

9. Dave - 16:04 Fri 6/15/2007 ( email | web )

Joel Spolsky makes some interesting comments on his Web log comparing and contrasting Mac and Windows font rendering.
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