Re: layout/screen units mess

From: Joaquín Cuenca Abela (
Date: Thu Aug 08 2002 - 16:40:39 EDT

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    On Thu, 2002-08-08 at 21:55, Dom Lachowicz wrote:
    > >> This isn't a *huge* problem. Word Processor documents are allowed to
    > >> look (and layout) slightly differently between versions and between
    > >> platforms. Of course, we should try to keep these differences at a
    > >> minimum, but there are some other reasons why things can and will look
    > >> differently no matter what we do:
    > >
    > > Here I disagree. IMO, Word Processors are *not* allowed to layout
    > > differently, and if the user has all the fonts required, then the
    > > document should render exactly identically, whatever version you use.
    > I would still disagree with you here. There are too many subtle
    > differences that are outside of our control here, such as:
    > * floating point operations being slightly different based on the
    > processor used, if we use floats

    yes, slightly is the right word here :)

    > * font rendering programs potentially performing slightly differently

    "rendering" slightly differently. The metrics are the same ones, and
    thus printed material should not be affected.

    > * actual installed fonts differ based on platform

    When it's impossible, then it's impossible. But we should give our best
    shot (btw, we can still preserve layout even with font substitution).

    > * font licensing bits (such as apple's patents that "plague" freetype)

    again, that only affects on screen rendering. Layout don't changes due
    to that

    > Now, if we all used the same fonts coming from the same font rendering
    > program with the same license in effect/not in effect, then the output
    > should in theory be identical. In the real world and with Abi's design
    > philosophy, we can't guarantee this.

    In short, if the user don't has the right fonts, we're screwed. If he
    has the right fonts, we should do our best to keep layout intact.

    > Also, I tend to lessen this requirement since a *lot* (read the
    > overwhelming majority) of users don't care about a single pixel
    > difference here and there in their word processing documents. It simply
    > isn't a huge concern.

    That's because we don't have yet floating frames or stuff like that.
    Users get *angry* when they took hours to typeset a document, and then
    upgrade their wordprocessor and things renders differently.

    I still have to find a user that don't cares about it. Of course, it
    exists a kind of users (the so called "professionals") that are not
    going to even take a look at AbiWord if they're not 100% sure that their
    documents are not going to be screwed.

    > >> * Different fonts on different platforms (we don't and won't embed
    > >> fonts like PDFs)
    > >
    > > why "won't"? I was hopping to add something in this sense.
    > > Of course, it's more difficult to us than to pdf, because we should
    > > embed enough glyphs to render the text *and* to leave the user edit it.
    > > But I see it as a desired feature (btw, word does it)
    > I don't see this as a desired feature and only see it as causing an
    > unending sea of headaches for us as the project progresses. Yes, PDF
    > does do font subsetting to save size, and we wouldn't be able to do
    > that.

    we wouldn't be able to do that *entirely*. We can very well drop all
    the glyphs that don't belong to the document used languages (just
    removing CJK chars you're going to get a decent size).

    And some people (me for instance) don't cares about a ~300k bloat if
    that means be able to see the document in any computer without having to
    worry downloading fonts.

    > I'm seeing a problem when we have a 10M glyph font embedded inside of a
    > 1 page document. Do we want a 4MB, 1 page document? Is this the best
    > route to go? Can we be smart and say "you don't have fonts X, Y, Z. Go
    > get them from"?

    No, absolutely no. The user that receives your document may not have
    inet access (it happens a lot), or it may be expensive, or it may be a
    pain to download, or the site may be down, or...

    and you want to print your end course document in the printer of your
    friend for *now*, or you're going to send abiword to the hell.

    > What about cases where fonts are
    > copyrighted materials?

    I knew that this question would come sooner or later :)

    Fonts embeds copyright information, and we *SHOULD* respect it. (Of
    course, if somebody disables the code that checks the copyright, that
    its responsibility, that's not our problem.)

    > Might Abi (read me, as a US citizen and the
    > project's maintainer) get sued because Abi now allows you to
    > redistribute (read circumvent) copyrighted material (this is a real
    > consideration under copyright law that we will have to be careful of,
    > not to mention the fscking DMCA).

    Of course, not.

    > Will this just be the responsibility
    > of the user? I've heard the same argument applied to Napster, and they
    > lost.

    No. It's our responsibility. We should respect typographer decision
    about font embedding. Yet sometimes the licenses are something as "you
    can only embed this font up to 10 times", and that don't shows up in the
    font itself. These cases are always user responsibility, and there's a
    *ton* of software out there that does it that way.

    In short, we should do the best we can. Beyond from that, layers will
    have to sue the user if he breaks the law.

    We can not be more liable than, say, freetype. After all, a program to
    embed a font in a postscript file don't takes more than an afternoon to
    write, and nobody is going to sue gcc authors...

    > You say that Word does it, which is true. Microsoft also owns a
    > lot of the fonts, has extremely good relations (read contracts and
    > licenses) with other font vendors, and has $40B in liquid assets and an
    > army of lawyers to throw at problems like this. The Abi fund has $1100
    > and my "Lawyering for Dummies" book.
    > If you do anything, prepare to argue your case for your proposed
    > solution, because there will be arguments for and against it, and I
    > think that most arguments for all sides will have a 1+ kernels of truth
    > to them.

    I'm waiting for these arguments :)


    Joaquín Cuenca Abela

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