Web fonts will soon look better in Chrome

For all of Google Chrome's advantages, its sub-par rendering of web fonts has always been a sore point. With the release of Chrome 37, however, that's about to change.

This post on the Chromium blog reveals that DirectWrite support is part of Chrome 37. DirectWrite is a DirectX application programming interface (API) that supports "high-quality text rendering, resolution-independent outline fonts, and full Unicode text and layout support," according to Microsoft's reference page. Previous versions of Chrome have used the older Graphics Device Interface API to display text, which resulted in inferior font rendering compared to Firefox and recent flavors of Internet Explorer. Sites using fancy web fonts will soon look as good in Chrome as they do in other browsers. You can see the difference below.

Image: Chromium Project

If you're a typography nerd like me and can't wait to try out this new feature, you can download the latest Chrome beta here. The only caveat is that you'll need to be running Windows Vista or later to take advantage of DirectWrite, but I doubt that will be a problem for most TR readers. If the beta goes smoothly, all Chrome users should benefit from the change when version 37 is released.

Comments closed
    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 6 years ago

    Lol, people actually use this browser? Why not just use IE? At least MS doesn’t need advertorials to sell it to the general public.

    Corporate spyware browsers are Corporate spyware browsers.

      • deepblueq
      • 6 years ago

      It does have a lot of technical advantages over IE, and a lot of people don’t see Google as being that bad.

      (For the record, I share your POV – I’m just noting that many people don’t.)

        • LostCat
        • 6 years ago

        IE11 has a few over Chrome, though that’s finally being improved.

    • sweatshopking
    • 6 years ago

    They going to fix that battery murdering bug?

      • UberGerbil
      • 6 years ago

      Yes, finally (but only after a Forbes writer complained about it). From Saturday’s short bread: [url<]http://www.pcworld.com/article/2455442/chromes-been-eating-your-laptops-battery-for-years-but-google-promises-to-fix-it.html[/url<]

    • moog
    • 6 years ago

    I’m excited. Should I use a magnifier glass to examine the fonts?

      • Visigoth
      • 6 years ago

      No. There’s a thing called DPI, which if you heard about it, you can configure in your Windows settings to increase the scaling. Done.

    • UberGerbil
    • 6 years ago

    Nice to see Chrome finally adopting something that’s been in FF and IE for three years and several versions.

      • LostCat
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah, that’s why I switched off Chrome. But now I’m back (on their 64 bit version.)

    • Meadows
    • 6 years ago

    The example image looks doctored to me. The large letters on the top aren’t even black anywhere. Not even where the lines intersect. Not hard to make them seem “worse” that way.

    • erick2red
    • 6 years ago

    It will be a problem for those of us using Linux

      • just brew it!
      • 6 years ago

      Yup. I wonder if they have anything similar planned for non-Windows users?

      • Farting Bob
      • 6 years ago

      It wont be a problem, you just wont see any change from what you are used to.

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    How am I supposed to tell the difference when I view this on my Chrome browser?

      • just brew it!
      • 6 years ago

      The example is a bitmap image, it is not using *your* browser’s font rendering.

        • DPete27
        • 6 years ago

        My original comment was a joke. I can see the difference in the article image. I guess I have much to learn before I master satire like chuckula.

          • just brew it!
          • 6 years ago

          Satire/sarcasm often doesn’t translate well in a short online post. Oh well… c’est la vie.

    • bthylafh
    • 6 years ago

    Oh, /that/’s why fonts looked so different on Chrome this morning – I’m running the beta channel. I thought my default fonts had gotten changed somehow.

      • Ethyriel
      • 6 years ago

      Was it a good or bad impression?

        • bthylafh
        • 6 years ago

        I just had a few minutes with it this morning and only noticed that it looked different. Mostly just the fonts were darker. I didn’t A/B it with Firefox or IE.

        • firagabird
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]Was it a good or bad impression?[/quote<] Yes.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 6 years ago

    Will this fix the resolution scaling issue on very high DPI screens?

      • UberGerbil
      • 6 years ago

      No, because the primary problem with scaling on webpages is the combination of effectively-unscalable bitmap images embedded in an otherwise fluid environment of scalable elements (assuming the webpage isn’t coded in a broken way with hardcoded pixel sizing on elements, etc). There’s really no way to fix that: you either leave the bitmaps alone, and they’re the wrong size for everything else, or you stretch them and they look terrible.

        • bthylafh
        • 6 years ago

        SVGS FOR EVERYBODY!

          • UnfriendlyFire
          • 6 years ago

          There was a flash game that used something similar to SVGS in their graphics, which meant that you could zoom in infinitely on a 4K monitor and not see any obvious pixels, assuming you had flash set to high quality.

          I think it was Mud and Blood 2. A brutal WWII top-down tactical simulator game.

            • Meadows
            • 6 years ago

            Almost every flash game uses vector graphics.

      • JohnC
      • 6 years ago

      Scaling actually works fine in latest Canary build, without modifying any flags or properties… So yea, it looks like it will also be fixed in the final build soon.

      • Phydoux
      • 6 years ago

      If you’re referring to blurry/jagged fonts, then yes it does fix it. I just upgraded Chrome to the beta stream to check it out, and the fonts now look just as smooth and nice as in Firefox or Internet Explorer.

    • homerdog
    • 6 years ago

    Love the ads for Windows Vista.

      • Wirko
      • 6 years ago

      Vista at least is mentioned in the news post. Mine are for 80GB Barracudas.

    • smunter6
    • 6 years ago

    Great news. Maybe finally HiDPI support will not be broken now. Has 64-bit Chrome rolled out to the beta channel yet?

      • LostCat
      • 6 years ago

      Nope. – [url<]http://googlechromereleases.blogspot.com/[/url<]

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