With text rendering, you’re essentially making text readable to users. The process is straightforward for simple scripts. The script that is more complicated has factors that lead to the correct rendering of a string.
But a lot also depends on the language being used as with languages there are some that don’t even use lower- or upper case. There are many people and I count in myself as well, who are not very great fans of text rendering in Silverlight and WPF.
Text rending is hard and a tool such as photoshop forces you to select a rendering method for every single text element present on the canvas. There is not any particular rendering method that will always look good for all fonts. With text rendering, you have got lots of variables – the size and shape of the font, its features, and the particular context in which it’s used.
Whatever is responsible for turning everything into pixels on a screen isn’t going to succeed every time. This is especially true for something such as type. So I thought I would share a few of my opinions.
Fonts change with size
There are some fonts that just appear to have been made for Silverlight. Unfortunately, no rules apply when it comes to things like this and it will always take some cut and try. The results too, are dramatic, according to the size you are rendering, and the very same font may look good at 12px but not good at all at 13px.
A perfect example of this is a font such as Verdana. It looks good at display sizes, and you could say preferably at 11px or 12px. It can all seem to be rather confusing. However, relieving news is that when it comes to displaying font sizes, you are actually better off staying with fonts you know.
The idea with any font is to not get distracted with its looks but to rather make sure that it is such that it is conveying information. So, a common font can be looked upon as an asset as it lets the text have a voice. For larger font sizes, you might want to be more expressive.
That might mean having to tweak the font sizes by a pixel or maybe more even to come up with a match to the text rendering engine of Silverlight. It’s amazing how a font can change so much by making it smaller or bigger.
Maybe it’s time to talk about text hinting. Text- or font hinting is an approach for the font author to determine the important lines in all of the glyphs that require land on the pixel boundaries. Microsoft is somewhat intrusive when we are talking about text hinting and that is what actually elucidates the variation in font rendering between Mac and Windows.
At large sizes, text hinting does not matter and in Silverlight and WPF, you can commonly find the right size where the rendering algorithm doesn’t pay attention to hints. Hinting doesn’t switch off at some particular sizes but the case that as you move from different sizes, you’re changing the glyphs that are responsible for making up the characters so that they align to the pixel boundaries.
Earlier on I said that Photoshop lets you choose between different mathematical formulas so as to get control of text appearance.