This is true, and IMO it's the reason font rendering is much less important than people think. When I got a new pair of glasses I disabled font anti-aliasing to make the edges as sharp as possible. I did this so I could more quickly learn to focus my eyes correctly with the new glasses. By the time I had mastered the glasses I was used to the font rendering, and I have not switched it back. I now prefer fonts with no anti-aliasing. If you'd told me in the past that I'd end up preferring that I might not have believed it.
The most legible font is the one you're used to. People can read Blackletter or Spencerian like it's a normal font if they're used to it. I think vector fonts were a mistake. It's a lot of software complexity for very little value.
Testing this reminded me that I always read HN two zoom-levels higher than the smallish default.
Though beware of Windows' ClearType, which seems to do a bad job on hidpi: it renders very thin glyphs, and the glyph width discontinuously jumps from 1px to 2px when you change font size. It tries way too hard to snap to pixels. OS X and freetype (tested: 2.6) do a much better job on hidpi.
I'm not saying bitmap fonts don't have their place, but that place is typically old computers or small embedded devices where the complexity of rendering vector fonts is an actual unnecessary performance bottleneck. Vector fonts are easy to use and quick to render, they produce crisp glyphs at virtually (Besides extremely low) resolution and pixel density.
I have a 14" 1080p laptop and so I'm not constantly squinting I use 125% windows scaling and usually about 125% scaling in Google Chrome, although it varies from website to website. With vector fonts this just works, using bitmap fonts would be a lot of ~~software~~ complexity for very little value.
Yes, and in my case on Linux I switched off hinting a long time ago (but retained anti-aliasing)
We even did it on our network at work by default as users liked the fonts when they were more "Mac like".
Personally I have never understood the whole font hinting thing. It seems rather unscientific and the result is that fonts look fundamentally different at slight size differences; seems hinting is part of the problem, not the solution.
Hinting exists because displays don't have infinite resolution. Mac-style rendering has always acted like displays have paper-like resolutions, and respects a font's letter shapes more, favoring the original designer's intended font appearance on paper. Windows-style rendering has always acknowledged that displays have pixels, and that smearing fonts across pixels can decrease readability on average-DPI displays. Linux font rendering has historically offered a choice between the two, but typically defaulted to Windows-style rendering.
If it means the software for displaying them can be simpler, maybe yes? Personally I think the X fixed fonts (with a slashed zero) are pretty good... I can read text in that font all day in a terminal and not get tired.
( https://thechive.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/some-things-are... )
I wonder if part of the reason for those studies indicating that ClearType "improves reading speed" is because of that - slowing down to focus on the letters feels unpleasant, so people try to scan through the text as quickly as possible.
Confusing METAFONT with metaphors, presumably.
This. A thousand times this.
The sad fact is embedded hand-written quality pixel grid is in old MS core fonts and basically nowhere else to find.
Font hinting and anti-aliasing is only useful because people have giant ~70-100 dpi screens which look awful without it. On mobile where you have 300-400 DPI it's no issue. Even with 4k desktop monitors with ~200 DPI it seems much less necessary.
Maybe for you, but don't assume that is true for everybody. It took many months of trying various font rendering configurations (Infinality in ClearType-ish and OSX-ish modes as well as custom modes) before I settled on my current configuration. I'm very familiar with having to spend some time adjusting to different modes, but in my opinion, this the differences in rendering greatly overshadowed the differences from seeing an unusual/new setup.
Perception of text on a screen is affected - at a minimum - by the rendering technique (AA, subpixel-AA, hinting, contrast of the font, contrast of the display, eyesight of the viewer, and the ambient lighting in the room. Maybe in your situation the subtleties of font rendering are not that important. On my monitor, I find  to be a lot easier to read than any of the examples (both before and after) that were linked in the announcement.
> very little value
I'm sure most people are fine with sensible defaults, but please, try to remember that "value" is often subjective. People even disagree about which criteria represent high value.
 http://i.imgur.com/wMWmNKt.png?1 (esp. the 12px row)
(No, you don't want to see my messy custom fontconfig configuration that overrides a LOT of fo0nts choices and forces them into the handful of fonts that I find easier to read. Yes, that took another few months of experimentation.)
> vector fonts were a mistake
That depends a lot on what you are doing with them. While I was talking about vector fonts, the amazing font
If you doubt the benefit of a high-quality rendering of a (appropriately hinted) vector font, try loading  and  (source: a very enlightening article) in separate tabs and switching between them (so the images are in the same position). Image  uses modern techniques to render each line 0.1px further right, accumulating 3px over 30 lines. The other image  rounds the x offset to the pixel grid. Modern rasterizing techniques can align font rendering to 1/256th of a pixel!
Maybe so, but there's still a need for fonts that are legible before you're used to them, for things like traffic signs.
I don't understand why anybody (MS, the FreeType devs, ...) would choose DirectWrite style rendering. It just looks blurry to me. Even on a hidpi display, where it shouldn't make a difference, it looks wierd compared to GDI rendering. One major reason I don't like Edge, and also find Metro and XAML apps somehow yucky (just a gut reaction, I'm not judging them technically).
The OS X font rendering is awesome, on Linux, Infinality can be tweaked to look even better, but windows? It's hideous, inconsistent and terrible to change...
I suffer from ocular migraines and as hard as it is to believe (even for me), the way fonts are rendered makes a difference. I will literally go blind looking at badly rendered fonts. I'm going to take a wait and see attitude, though. Not all fonts will be affected, so perhaps it will be OK.
I'm considering moving to very large wall mounted TV and sitting far enough away so that the display angle of the screen is about the same as my 13.3" laptop. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to wall mount a TV in my current apartment, so it may have to wait until I buy a house (I bet the e-ink display comes first ;-) )
Thankfully I just get the "blindness" and not the headaches at least.
Edge actually has ClearType on by default in the upcoming update though.
FreeType < 2.6.2 hint=slight: use auto-hinter for vertical hinting
FreeType 2.6.2+ hint=slight: use native "vertical-grid-only-snapping" for OpenType/CFF, fallback to autohinter "vertical-grid-only"
FreeType 2.7.0 v40 default: support TrueType too for native "vertical-grid-only-snapping", and enable this by default (regardless if hint is set to slight or not?)
A pity it will take some time to ship to Debian Testing, I'd love to try it without having to recompile the whole system.
So something like this is needed in ~/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf:
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM 'fonts.dtd'>
<edit mode="assign" name="rgba"><const>rgb</const></edit>
<edit mode="assign" name="hinting"><bool>true</bool></edit>
<edit mode="assign" name="hintstyle"><const>hintfull</const></edit>
<edit mode="assign" name="antialias"><bool>true</bool></edit>
<edit name="lcdfilter" mode="assign"><const>lcddefault</const></edit>
KUDOS to all contributors, especially for the last few release of FreeType which really rocked!
FT2_SUBPIXEL_HINTING=0 # Classic mode (default in 2.6)
FT2_SUBPIXEL_HINTING=1 # Infinality mode
FT2_SUBPIXEL_HINTING=2 # Minimal mode (default in 2.7)
For that matter I have no idea why you think freetype is even unix software. It builds and runs on numerous non-unix platforms.
Yeah, sure! :-)
So why do we still need an interpreter?
For example, they could write their own renderer, then manually adjust inflection points etc. at different point sizes.
Or, they could just render at a large resolution, scale down to smaller resolution, and adjust any imperfections how they like.
Recent versions of IntelliJ are bundled with a patched version of OpenJDK though, so that particular case should not be a problem anymore.