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Hinting: Raph Levien

Written by Luc Devroye
McGill University
Montreal, Canada
lucdevroye@gmail.com
http://luc.devroye.org
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I have always maintained that hinting is unimportant *in the long run*. More and more people are coming on board. Quoting Raph Levien: The importance of hinting is steadily decreasing, and will eventually approach zero. Aside from hinting, the technical differences between OpenType TT and OpenType CFF are also not that significant - the encoding and fancy contextual features are the same across the two, the only real difference is the representation of the outlines. IMNSHO, a reasonable way to deliver fonts for Vista and future systems is to forego hints altogether, and tune the gasp table to enable y-direction grayscaling. See this thread for discussion and examples of the latter, a new feature for ClearType. Btw, I wasn't able to find the documentation for the new gasp flags for controlling y-direction grayscaling. Maybe one of the ClearType experts here can point me in the right direction. Basically, the effect of this approach is that contrast will be slightly softened compared to well-hinted fonts, but youre pretty much guaranteed no distortion or artifacts, and increasing resolution will lessen the importance of contrast over time. Of course, all this depends on the nature of the font. If your goal is good screen rendering of large blocks of text, as it is for MSs new ClearType font collection, then you probably do want to pay attention to the hinting. For display fonts, it shouldn't matter much at all. As far as the expectation for future support, I think both TT and CFF are going to be around a long time. All the new Microsoft stuff (XAML, XPS, WPF, if you can keep track of all the alphabet stew) supports both TT and CFF, and of course anything that deals with PDF has to as well. The code for unhinted TT and CFF rendering is pretty simple. So I would say that the choice between TT and CFF boils down to which tools youre most comfortable using.

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html