Font hinting, which is the better approach, Apple or Microsoft?

zeno333's picture

Article about the different approaches here...

Thomas Phinney's picture

These are approaches to rendering (rasterizing), rather than hinting.

The approaches have different strengths and weaknesses. My favorite rendering anywhere is with a minority of fonts under Windows DirectWrite ClearType. But to my eyes, the average font looks better in Apple's current Quartz rendering....

zeno333's picture

OK, I mean approaches to dealing with the hinting that is in the typeface.....ignoring it or not etc etc etc

Frode Bo Helland's picture

If there was a clear cut answer to that, we wouldn’t have different rendering engines today, would we?

oldnick's picture

I don't know that it matters. In today's business section, the buzz is that the Apple is starting to spoil, which comes as no news to me. Why I think so is rather complex, but the point of the article is that investors are starting to get a little peeved with Apple's stinginess, because the "value" of the stock is basically all in the price per share, meaning Apple is a good investment as long as its market share and appeal are strong. Apple is worth a whole lot of dough, but the corporation doesn't like to share.

Or create American jobs. The big money is starting to see a less than rosy future…which, money being money and all, may well mean that Apple has peaked, and may be on the way down.

OS X becomes Classic Mac, or iPhone's become passé? I do not know: I do not have access to the big money crystal ball…yet.

Just kidding. I don't know that it's pertinent, but a lot of people who are banking on Apple's innovation "edge" are starting to get edgy themselves.

zeno333's picture

So Apple does not meet "expectations" today, and all of a sudden as you say "I don't know that it matters"!! Whatever....

Thomas Phinney's picture

Old Nick, although I find analysis of Apple's stock price and its popularity both interesting, I don't get how they relate to the discussion at hand.


Apple's choice, ignoring built-in hints in favor of on-the-fly autohinting, seems to me to be based on the idea that people are going to have a wide variety of fonts, and wanting to make as many of them as possible look as good as possible.

Microsoft's approach, relying on hinting in the font (though being less reliant in the newest rasterizers), seems to me to be based on the idea that it's important that the system fonts look as good as humanly possible, and that it be possible to make other fonts look really exceptional with some added work... even if that means that random other fonts are going to look worse.

Each company's choice on handling hinting plays fairly well in tandem with their choices on anti-aliasing and rendering. They have each made a host of different decisions, but all from a consistent philosophical place.

Because I am big on having a wide variety of fonts and such, I suppose I like Apple's approach a bit better than Microsoft's. Though I will admit the degree of fuzz on the anti-aliased text seems excessive, at least at old-fashioned resolutions. Once I have a 27+" retina display on my desktop I won't care. Until then, I like Adobe's choices as far as anti-aliasing goes.

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