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RE: Making pt a non-physical unit

From: Richard Fink <rfink@readableweb.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 10:39:51 -0500
To: <robert@ocallahan.org>, "'Maciej Stachowiak'" <mjs@apple.com>, "'Jonathan Kew'" <jonathan@jfkew.plus.com>
Cc: "'Giuseppe Bilotta'" <giuseppe.bilotta@gmail.com>, "'www-style'" <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <001f01ca939d$7bcafe90$7360fbb0$@com>
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 4:26 AM < robert@ocallahan.org >:




Like Felix Miata – whose work I’m familiar with – I’ve taken a very close look at text sizing. Frankly, I was unaware that FF was doing anything other than what IE did with regard to pt. IE was using a 4:3 ration in IE6. A very long time. And now, you’ve reported that Webkit follows suit.

Also be aware that, unlike IE6, (I don’t remember offhand what IE7 does) IE8 ignores the Windows system settings and sizes everything in and of its own accord. The reasons given for this during the Beta cycle was the need, as per the standard, to preserve a base unit of 96 dpi. So, if the system font sizes are set to, say, 120%, text within IE8 does *not* inherit that setting. But IE does respect it by defaulting to a base Zoom level of 125% in keeping with the user’s presumed desire for larger text. The user can override that in the Internet Options menus if they wish. I expect this will continue on into IE9.

FWIW - I reconciled the difference between a pt onscreen and a pt in print a long time ago by referring to a pt used in something other than a print style sheet as a “screen point”. Perhaps the specs should simply be amended to make a distinction between the two and thus codify it. Less is more. Let’s not go overboard.


While today, print style sheets are usually non-existent or, at best, an afterthought, I believe that browsers will be a significant DTP platform for print in the future.  I say this in light of impressive developments like the HTML to PDF conversion software Prince; the increasing frequency and affordability of one-off print runs and the increasing popularity of eBooks that many people will want to print out, whole or in part, as a convenience. Therefore, I expect a pt as specified in a print style sheet to be the expected, time-honored 1/72 of an inch. 

(Incidentally, I’ve yet to see a browser running on an E-Paper device like the Kindle. I think it’s absent, partly, because of pressure from publishers. That’s the next major frontier and I think it will help in understanding the refinements that need to be made to the basic sizing capabilities in CSS and browsers in general.)


I’ve read some of the comments about this with great interest in that I share, along with Jonathan Kew (if I’m reading right) the feeling that there are certain options still missing – for both authors and users - from the overall typesetting/text-sizing mix.

And now that we have five implementations that give control over fonts using @font-face, it may be time to look with a fresh eye.


My vote: Get interop with IE and Webkit on the screen point issue. Preserve the physical unit for print.


And hey, what’s up with printing using @font-face fonts in FF 3.6. Still not happening as of a week ago. ;)






From: www-style-request@w3.org [mailto:www-style-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Robert O'Callahan
Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 4:26 AM
To: Maciej Stachowiak
Cc: Giuseppe Bilotta; www-style
Subject: Re: Making pt a non-physical unit


On Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 10:06 PM, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com> wrote:

My recollection is that we first abandoned pt being a physical unit because doing that instead of the fixed 4/3 ratio made a huge number of Web sites display in a broken way on Mac, since the default DPI tended not to match what is typical on Windows. I don't think we want to go back to that world.


I changed my mind after that email. Making pt etc correspond to actual physical measurements on screens doesn't make sense, even apart from compatibility issues.

"He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." [Isaiah 53:5-6]
Received on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 15:40:22 UTC

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