Safari and Text Rendering

I take font rendering pretty seriously. Back in my 19-year Linux phase, I’ve changed dozens of machines from one Linux distro to another based on nothing more than font rendering on my main machine.

In my current 7-year Mac phase, I use my MBP on an external, 4K monitor, in high-DPI mode. At least, I think that’s what it’s called. It’s where the UI elements are the same size as in high-def, but the fonts are rendered in (technically, almost) “retina” resolution. I’ve had this monitor for several years, but, every once in awhile, I still catch myself thinking, wow, this desktop is beautifully rendered.

Stack Overflow is a site I use basically every working day. Recently, every time I go to the site, I think to myself that the fonts look a lot better, for some reason. I finally dug around a little, and found that they changed their default font to use your system’s default a week ago. On macOS, this default is San Francisco, which I have loved since Apple first introduced it. I’ve even gone so far as to try to put a free version of the font on Windows, but this works about as well as you’d expect, which is to say it’s almost good.

This looks amazing to me. The meta discussion about the change is filled with hate, but I freaking LOVE it. It makes me want to look around for a theme on this site that will render fonts in San Francisco too. (UPDATE: I just switched it back to a theme I had already customized to use it. It looks great on macOS, of course, but it just doesn’t look very good on Windows. Maybe I need to hook my work laptop into the external monitor before I really judge it.)

Looking at the site on my work laptop, I will admit that the fonts don’t look all that great on Windows, under Firefox, or even Edge, so I can understand why all the Windows users are griping, but that’s not Stack Overflow’s fault. I installed Tampermonkey, and the Q+A-linked Roboto+RobotoMono script, and the site looks pretty good now, not that I use it on my other machine much.

It just goes to show how much Windows defaults are terrible. I recall that it would take me many minutes of screwing around with a fresh install of Linux to get things working to taste, but it took hours for Windows. (It takes mere seconds on macOS. There’s, like, 3 things to change: natural scroll direction, double tap clicking, and folders first in Finder.) Some things just don’t change, because they’re not accidental. They are the result of purposeful planning for the benefit of corporate computer fleet owners, instead of end users. Windows users feel this all the time they use the OS, but they hardly ever seem to realize it.

Randomly, since the Roboto font is being referenced, and Mr. Roboto just came up in my music feed, I just want to state for the record that Mr. Roboto is literally one of the top-10 songs ever recorded.