>I love to blame MS for a lot of things, but they can't be blamed for this.
>Pts are a purely print measurement.
Don't take this personally, Darrel. Yours just happened to the the one the
drove me over the edge on this. It could have been anyone's.
The above-quoted bit is one of the most meaningless "truths" I've ever
heard uttered. It keeps getting quoted in this context, as if someone on
high has blessed it with the almighty status of Truth, but it's worthless.
Points are a measure of physical size. Just like inches, cm, and pixels.
Yes, pixels. The fact that points are used in the process of applying ink
to paper no more disqualifies them from being used as a measure of the size
of a typeface on the screen than the fact that an inch began life as the
length of a royal body part disqualifies it from being used to measure
paper. A pixel (either the actual screen dot or the hypothetical screen dot
that the W3C created) is no better, and in the first case is demonstrably
worse as screen resolutions increase.
A point, taken seriously, is a *better* unit of measure for type in screen
displays than a pixel, for the simple reason that the point is a constant
shape and a constant size. Therefore designs built upon it will scale.
Pixels comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes (anyone remember early LCDs
that rendered circles as ovals because the pixels were noticeably more
oblong than the oblong pixels the OS folks were using when they wrote the
graphics routines for their systems?) and therefore cannot be counted upon
to remain legible, or to even maintain the proportions of a design, as
technology changes, an hourly event, these days. (Today the "standard" is
square pixels. It wasn't *that* long ago that Burrell Smith and Andy
Herzfeld proved that square pixels were even *possible*. Tomorrow, as
sub-pixel rendering progresses through the market -- it has to, now that
MS has finally "discovered" this decades-old trick -- the shape will change
again. Perhaps hexagonal will be the shape of choice in 5-10 years.)
The problem with points in our world *isn't* that they are printer's
measures. What is there about writing letters in light that makes it so
fundamentally different from writing letters in ink? Nothing at all. Points
are device-independent, or they would be if the propeller heads who wrote
the screen drivers actually cared about what they were doing. (NB: I'm a
propeller-head who has written a screen driver -- I used to do RSX-11M
sysgens for FUN[!] -- so I'm allowed to talk like that.) I'd be using
points in designs myself, if software designers had even known what the
heck the measurement *was* when they started us down this path.
But they didn't. And that is somehow the fault of points? Phaugh! Whether
you want to use points or not, let's dispense with this canard about how
they're somehow limited to print. They're a measure of size, no better and
no worse than any other, and better suited to calling out the size of text
than most. If the writers of video drivers knew anything about typography,
they'd have used the dpi values that Apple embedded in their OS. They'd
have written similar things into Windows. And we could use *real* font
metrics and *real* screen layout units to make *real* designs, instead of
scotch-taping some pieces of crap together and trying to be proud of it. In
the next four years the definition of pixels in most UAs *will* change, and
in the process all those 10px font-based websites out there could very well
become unreadable. As high-resolution LCDs hit the marketplace, OS's will
change to scale points to some horrible approximation of what they should
be. And some browsers will continue to display pixels on a 1:1 basis.
OK. I'm done with this. I'm going to go soak my head, now.
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.
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