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SlickEdit Product Discussion => SlickEdit® => Topic started by: forest on March 06, 2007, 11:52:12 pm

Title: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on March 06, 2007, 11:52:12 pm
I just installed the SlickEdit 11 demo for Linux.  I was excited to read about the Xft support, but greatly disappointed when I saw it in action.  All of the TrueType fonts that look beautiful in every other application look terrible in SlickEdit.

Here is an example of what SlickEdit 11 shows:
(http://www.hestiafire.org/forest/img/fontbad.png)

Here is what the same font (Courier New 10 point) looks like in every other app:
(http://www.hestiafire.org/forest/img/fontgood.png)

My system has freetype anti-aliasing disabled, auto-hinter disabled, and bytecode interpreter enabled.  This makes my Microsoft fonts look exactly the same for Linux and Windows, in all of my applications (including both gtk and Qt apps) except SlickEdit, which looks as though it is somehow disabling freetype's hinting mechanism.  Can anyone confirm this, and/or provide a fix?

Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: natros on March 07, 2007, 08:51:11 pm
I know what you mean. With bytecode enabled all my applications looks ugly and that's why my freetype has aa disabled and bytecode disabled.
My guess is that slickedit has its own version of freetype built-in with bytecode enabled.

My solution to this problem is to use fonts in the old fashion way. I'm using the Tahoma font for user interface. The font list has two versions, one called "Tahoma" (installed with font-config) and the other "microsoft-tahoma". The last is what I'm using. For the code I'm using alias-6x13

Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: Clark on March 21, 2007, 01:29:43 pm
It turns out I made a fix for this that got put in AFTER version 11.02 got sent out.  Either, contact support and we can send you a new executable or if you upgrade/buy SlickEdit 20007 (V12) you won't have this problem.  If you contact support, let them know that I said you need a new Linux 11.02 executable to fix this problem.  The fix for this problem was to turn Anti-Aliasing on.

Clark
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: Tim Kemp on March 21, 2007, 05:04:28 pm
I want SlickEdit 20007!   ;D
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: forest on March 30, 2007, 05:53:00 pm
It turns out I made a fix for this that got put in AFTER version 11.02 got sent out.  Either, contact support and we can send you a new executable or if you upgrade/buy SlickEdit 20007 (V12) you won't have this problem.  If you contact support, let them know that I said you need a new Linux 11.02 executable to fix this problem.  The fix for this problem was to turn Anti-Aliasing on.

Clark

Thanks for the response, Clark.  Sadly, that is not the correct fix.  I tried the v12 demo, and saw that anti-aliased fonts looked less sloppy than in v11, but anti-aliasing itself is a problem.  It makes the fonts look blurry, which causes eye strain.  Forcing the user to look at anti-aliased fonts is a deal breaker for users like me.

What I really want is for Slick Edit to use the same font rendering that every other application on my desktop uses.  I have a perfectly good freetype installation, with correct truetype hinting enabled, and no anti-aliasing.  The correct fix would be for Slick Edit to use my existing xft/freetype installation, and honor the existing preferences.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: forest on March 30, 2007, 06:17:21 pm
Here's what the fonts look like in the Slick Edit 12 trial:
(http://www.hestiafire.org/forest/img/fontblur.png)
Notice how the anti-aliasing makes lots of letters look blurry?  This gives me a headache after a fairly short period of use.


Here's what the same font looks like in every other app on my desktop:
(http://www.hestiafire.org/forest/img/fontgood.png)


I have now seen two different versions of Slick Edit do two different kinds of TrueType font rendering, neither of which follow the settings I have configured in my linux installation.  It seems pretty clear that Slick Edit has either found a way to circumvent my system's font settings, or is using its own private copy of freetype (perhaps linked into the Slick Edit executable).  Either way, it breaks true integration with linux, and makes Slick Edit look terrible.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: Clark on April 19, 2007, 02:30:31 pm
I suspect that the difference is either because SlickEdit is using the wrong settings or it's font size calculations are different.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v11
Post by: forest on May 10, 2007, 08:21:13 pm
Can you fix it, please?
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: Clark on May 22, 2007, 03:41:14 pm
How do you enable correct TrueType hinting?  What Linux distribution are you using.  Are you running on a notebook or desktop machine?  I did some searching and all I came up with was a lot of references to an alternate patented TrueType hinting algorithm.

I can't reproduce the above problems.

Clark
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on May 22, 2007, 05:25:28 pm
How do you enable correct TrueType hinting?
I can't tell you how to write the code, since I haven't done it myself, but I don't think you "enable correct" hinting so much as let the libraries (which are already installed on the system) do their thing.

Quote
What Linux distribution are you using.
When I first encountered the problem, I was using Fedora Core 5.  I am now using Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty) and see exactly the same problem.  All my usual applications render fonts according to the UI preferences I set.  This includes both gtk and qt apps, such as firefox, openoffice, and p4v (the perforce gui).  Slick Edit does its own thing.

Quote
Are you running on a notebook or desktop machine?
A desktop.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on May 22, 2007, 05:47:43 pm
I can't reproduce the above problems.

From memory, I think this is how you can reproduce the problem:


At this point, you should be able to open a text editor, select the Courier New font, and type away with very crisp font rendering, as in my screen shots above.

To get Firefox using the new fonts, the easiest way:

Assuming your X server was configured with the screen dimensions that actually match your monitor, firefox should now render pages exactly like it does in Windows with font smoothing (anti-aliasing) disabled.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: Clark on May 24, 2007, 02:25:36 am
I'm on vacation until Monday.  I'll try this when I get back.  RedHat has an option for smoothing too.  I don't think my X server is configured with the same settings as my monitor.

thanks
Clark
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on May 24, 2007, 05:10:33 am
RedHat has an option for smoothing too.
Okay, but I recommend using the specific version of Ubuntu that I described, because the instructions I posted are not likely to work for other linux distributions.  Red Hat probably didn't build the freetype library with the same options, so it might not yield the results you're trying to reproduce.

Thanks, and have a great vacation!

Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: Clark on May 31, 2007, 03:47:08 pm
I'm still working on this.  The first thing I noticed in your sample text was that the base lines were not the same. It turns out that it is possible to reproduce that problem on Windows too.  You need just the right font and font size.  It occurs when the font heights for normal,bold, etc. are the same BUT the ascents are different.  I'm currently testing a fix for this on Linux and Windows.  After that I'll be looking into the other Linux only problem.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on May 31, 2007, 04:16:14 pm
The first thing I noticed in your sample text was that the base lines were not the same. It turns out that it is possible to reproduce that problem on Windows too.

Good catch.  I'm so distracted by the glyph rendering problem that I didn't even notice the offset baselines.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: Clark on June 01, 2007, 03:59:07 pm
I'm thinking you're seeing this problem because SlickEdit is using anti-aliasing which is making your fonts look worse.  There are some cases where anti-aliasing makes fonts look like they are fuzzy.  Does that sound like what is happening?

Clark
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on June 01, 2007, 04:44:29 pm
I'm thinking you're seeing this problem because SlickEdit is using anti-aliasing which is making your fonts look worse.  There are some cases where anti-aliasing makes fonts look like they are fuzzy.  Does that sound like what is happening?

Yes, as I wrote in earlier posts, SlickEdit is clearly using anti-aliasing, and anti-aliasing is a problem for me.  That's why I have that option turned off at the system level on my machine.  All my other applications respect that option.  SlickEdit is the only one that ignores it and uses anti-aliasing anyway.

That's not the whole problem, though.  I don't know if this has changed in SlickEdit v12, but in v11, SlickEdit's non-anti-aliased font rendering was horrible.  It looked exactly as though SlickEdit was not using the freetype bytecode interpreter for font hinting, again ignoring my system settings, and appearing obviously different from every other app on my desktop.  (See my first screenshot for an example.)  This is most obvious when using the high quality Microsoft Core Fonts.

If you can get SlickEdit to honor my system's font settings, and render fonts like every other app on my desktop, I'll consider this issue solved.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: Clark on June 01, 2007, 05:41:09 pm
It sounds like l need to better reproduce the problem since it's not just the anti-aliasing.  Most fonts even the Micrsoft fonts still look better with anti-aliasing on my system.  I'll work on this some more first.  I found some properties for hinting but I'll have to find some docs on them too.   Once I've figured out how to set the XFT configuration options, the fonts will like right.  Then I'll try to figure out where the OS stores these settings.  I can't promise I'll be able to figure out that part but I'll try.

Clark
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on June 01, 2007, 05:46:17 pm
Great.  Thanks for working on this, Clark.  I hope the Ubuntu 7.04 instructions I provided earlier will help in reproducing it.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: Clark on June 04, 2007, 03:46:15 pm
Looks like I have made some progress.  What's your email address and what is the exact version of SlickEdit you are using (Help>About SlickEdit).   You might want to send this information to support instead of broad casting your email address here.   I'd like to send you and executable.  I can tell that the settings are making a differences.  However, there are no settings which arguable make my fonts look a lot better.  This could be because I'm on a notebook.  I found a way to get the system settings.  However, you need to restart the X server for SlickEdit to see them.
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on June 04, 2007, 10:31:12 pm
I just sent email to support@slickedit.com, so you should be able to find my address there.

My current SlickEdit license is for version 9.  The trial copy that I have been testing (version 12) has expired, so it won't let me enter the Help -> About screen to check the version number for you.  The file name I downloaded to install it was:
se_12000000_linux_trial.tar.gz
Title: Re: Ugly unhinted TrueType fonts in SlickEdit v12 & v11
Post by: forest on June 13, 2007, 03:27:24 am
[Copied from email, for the record...]

The default fonts that come with linux don't have proper hints in them, so they're normally quite ugly on screen, no matter which hinter your font renderer uses.  Most linux distributions try to compensate by using freetype's autohinter plus antialiasing, but they still don't look very good.  (They're either blurry or malformed or both.)

The only way I know to get fonts looking really crisp is to install fonts that have hints in them, use a proper bytecode hinter, and turn off antialiasing.

Here's a breakdown:

default linux fonts + default hinter (autohinter) + antialiasing = mediocre
default linux fonts + default hinter (autohinter) = ugly
default linux fonts + proper bytecode hinter = ugly
good microsoft fonts + default hinter (autohinter)= ugly
good microsoft fonts + proper bytecode hinter = perfect

Right now, the only free high-quality fonts with hints are the Microsoft Core Fonts, and the only linux distribution I know of that has a bytecode hinter built-in is Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty).  So, you have to follow *all* of the instructions in my post.  Install Ubuntu Feisty, install the Microsoft fonts, turn off antialiasing/smoothing, and use Microsoft fonts (e.g. Courier New) in your programs.  You might have to restart the system before some of those changes take effect.

Good luck!