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RE: Making pt a non-physical unit

From: Richard Fink <rfink@readableweb.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 11:15:17 -0500
To: "'Boris Zbarsky'" <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Cc: <robert@ocallahan.org>, "'www-style'" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <004301ca8e22$45a146b0$d0e3d410$@com>
Tuesday, January 05, 2010 10:12 AM <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>:

Boris,

>Whatever made you think these are unknown?

My assumption is based on that information not being utilized. (And conversations with many people knowledgeable about display issues of all kinds.) In other words, sort of like the way astronomers deduce the existence of a moon or planet which may not be visible by telescope from the gravitational behavior of bodies nearby.
For example, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me that I, as a web developer, can use JavaScript to query the screen resolution and - in IE8 and FF 3.6 - the logical pixel size but I can't query for the true physical dimensions of the display. Why not, if it's available?

Further, in Windows, the problem of users having their display resolution set to something other than the "native" resolution of the display is a pandemic estimated as high as 60%. I believe ClearType has gotten a bit of a bad reputation ("FuzzyType") not because of any inherent flaws in the technology (debatable), but because of this mismatch between logical resolution and native resolution. (Native resolution being determined by the actual wiring grid of the LCD.) now, Windows 7 is said to deal with this problem more aggressively, but I haven't seen it in action as yet. (In another day or two I'll have a Win7 box.)
But if the physical size of the display is and has been known to the OS, this is indeed mysterious.
Once again, if this information is available why isn't it being used? I'm not being argumentative - you might be quite right - what you're saying just begs that question.
I've looked into it more than most people, so if I'm wrong, the question to me becomes: why the hell am I wrong?

This calls for more inquiry, most definitely. Forgive my ignorance but offhand I don't know what an X server is.

Are you saying that in Gecko, programmers can reliably query Windows for the physical dimensions of the display?

Thanks and best regards, 

Rich



-----Original Message-----
From: Boris Zbarsky [mailto:bzbarsky@MIT.EDU] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 10:12 AM
To: rfink@readableweb.com
Cc: robert@ocallahan.org; 'www-style'
Subject: Re: Making pt a non-physical unit

On 1/5/10 9:56 AM, Richard Fink wrote:
> How is this even possible without knowing the actual physical dimensions
> of the display?

Whatever made you think these are unknown?  They're certainly known to 
the OS (e.g. watching debug output from an X server starting up shows 
various information about the display including its self-reported 
physical size; in my measuring with a ruler these sizes are pretty much 
correct).

In practice, Gecko asks the OS for this information.

> I find it astonishing that – how many years after the “plug ‘n’ play”
> spec was first implemented? – displays do not, as a matter of course,
> communicate their physical dimensions to the OS.

Every single display I've used recently (last 5 years) does...

-Boris
Received on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 16:15:45 GMT

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