microscopic fonts in TL guis

Jim Diamond Jim.Diamond at acadiau.ca
Thu Apr 9 17:57:40 CEST 2020

On Thu, Apr  9, 2020 at 17:37 (+0200), Zdenek Wagner wrote:

> čt 9. 4. 2020 v 16:21 odesílatel Philip Taylor
> <P.Taylor at hellenic-institute.uk> napsal:

>> Jim Diamond via tex-live wrote:

>> I think "correct" means "if the screen is physically X DPI, then Xshould report X".
>> Other people seem to think "correct" means "96, regardless of what reality is".

>> I consider the latter to be a horrible kludge which has become popular
>> because it is expedient, but YMMV.

>> Blame not the kludgers, Jim, blame the CSS Working Group who defined the CSS reference pixel to be the visual angle of one pixel on a device with a pixel density of 96 DPI and a distance from the reader of an arm’s length. (for the British Standard Arm, clearly: see BS 31415 (1899), as amended).

> Yes, CSS using pixels (no matter whether based on 96 or even older 72)
> is wrong. When setting the properties of my monitor I took its size in
> pixels and inches and calculated the resolution. Java apparently takes
> the value from my system settings and font size is defined in
> tlcockpit in typographical units, not in pixels, but Tk uses its own
> strange value.

>> https://hacks.mozilla.org/2013/09/css-length-explained/

Philip, thanks for the link.

This statement "a CSS pixel will be displayed in different physical
dimensions but it will always be displayed in the correct size in
which the viewer will find comfortable." reminds me of the Olympic
champion level of pretentiousness as found in a book on UI design by
Apple I read a long time ago.  (Apple's viewpoint, at least at the
time, was essentially "we are right, anyone who disagrees is clearly
wrong".)  What a pile of rubbish.

Displaying things at a comfortable size for people to read is a
laudable goal.  Refining what an inch is, not so much.  This strikes
me as a poor solution to avoid harder thinking.

Having said that, CSS applies to web browsers, but what Java GUIs are
doing has always been something of a mystery to me.

I've been working on a QT5 app on and off for the last few months.
The Qt people have added fuel to the fire by displaying things
differently on different OSes.  Thus trying to develop some code which
works well on Linux, macos and MSWindows adds an extra level of


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