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Opera Zoom vs. IE Text Size
Which is correct?
pageoneresults




msg:1583762
 4:05 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

After all of these years developing and testing websites for cross browser support, this question finally arised.

Personally I prefer the Zoom Feature of Opera and other browsers that utilize it. It maintains the site integrity and allows users at higher screen resolutions to view a site at any size without much loss of visual presentation.

IE on the other hand provides us with the ability to size text but, images remain at their original size. And of course we all know what happens to sites when increasing font size in IE.

If you were developing standards, which of the two options would you choose to become a standard and why?

 

DrDoc




msg:1583763
 7:24 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

First off -- text size doesn't work in IE. It doesn't resize pixel sizes, and it doesn't resize relative font sizes correctly. So, in my opinion it's a piece of junk ;) But, let's pretend that it was working properly...

There are pros and cons about both. The biggest advantage with IE's method is, like you said, that images stay put. They do not resize at all. Then again, that will throw off your layout (for those that are picky), causing it to look all funky with HUGE text, and disproportionally small images.

The zoom feature keeps the layout intact. No matter how much you zoom, the relative sizes between text and images (and page layout in general) is preserved. It is also much better from a usability perspective. Bad eye sight is not limited to reading text ;) They deserve the ability to zoom the images as well.

So, again, I would not choose Microsoft's solution. The zoom is much better, no matter how you look at it.

photon




msg:1583764
 8:28 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with DrDoc: zooming which includes graphics is the way to go.

I receive a daily email of comic strips. On my high resolution screen some of them can be quite small to my over 40 eyes. With Opera's zoom I can bump them up to a readable size. IE's text zoom does me no good in that instance.

And I especially like the fact that Opera lets me go back to 100% with a press of the "*" key, so that I don't have to try and guess which roll of the mouse wheel returns me to the "standard" font size.

Hester




msg:1583765
 12:52 pm on May 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

The only problem with Opera's zoom approach is that the page becomes wider and taller, so more scrolling is involved. Also, zoomed images always look a bit rough if you ask me. (Yes, I've tried the smooth images option.) Would a photographer want images on his site enlarged in this way? Or would they want them to remain sharp, at their original size?

I'm not saying I don't prefer Opera's zoom because it's clearly magic - I'm just pointing out the down sides to it.

ricfink




msg:1583766
 2:10 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

There are, obviously, two approaches to Zoom.

One is Text-only zoom like Mozilla's. The other is Page Zoom like Opera's.

Each approach has it's little pros and cons which I won't go into here.

I just wanted to say something about implementation of Zoom features in general:

First, Opera gets it right in putting the Zoom drop-down box right on the address bar. The user needs to be able to immediately see what level of zoom the browser is using. Mozilla gets this almost-right in that it only takes one click on the View menu to get this information. IE/Windows gets it really wrong because you have to go all the way into the Text Size menu to check the setting. So, rule number one for browser makers should be: Show the Zoom setting on the addressbar.

Second, IE gets it right in that it provides five settings - smallest, smaller, medium, larger, largest. This is a human-centered approach with clear boundaries top and bottom and a limited set of choices that makes things manageable for authors and users alike.
When the user selects 'larger' the expectation is that the size will bump up just a bit: akin to the size in between a medium size Coca Cola at McDonald's and the largest size. (Clothing sizes are also an analagous reference here.) This five-size system also clues the user that this is not meant to be assistive technology. In other words, the resizing will be incremental and not extreme.
Sizing in percentages is very nice mathematically but it's abstract. And being able to go all the way from 110% to 200+% percent blurs the line between the kind of assistive technology required by those with severe vision problems and the kind of modest modification needed by the majority of users who are just trying to get to a readable size on their laptops.

Anybody who needs a 200% Zoom can't even read the browser menu. Such users are in need of help that lies outside the scope of an application and such help should rightly be provided at the level of the operating system or an assistive application.

Make sense?

I'm doing some research into this right now and I'd be obliged to get anybody's take on the issue of resizability.

isitreal




msg:1583767
 3:16 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Mozilla gets this almost-right in that it only takes one click on the View menu to get this information.

Mozilla change size: cntrl + +, cntrl + -
Opera has a bug, but is supposed to do: + and -, only - works though, odd that they haven't fixed that yet, they should take that off of their menu keyboard shortcut options until it starts to work, put back 9 and 0, which do 10% + - size changing in version 7 still

Sizing by 10% or so increments simply lets you size up or down until you find the right size, it's a good choice in my opinion since it's a big enough jump to make a difference on each click, but not too big.

that's about as easy as it gets to change size.

Hester, so it has to be a + on the number pad, that explains it, the plus above = doesn't work, but should, that was an odd decision, but at least it explains why they list it.

[edited by: isitreal at 3:21 pm (utc) on May 20, 2004]

Hester




msg:1583768
 3:18 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Second, IE gets it right in that it provides five settings

I would disagree. To me, IE gets it wrong, because it only allows five settings. What if I want the text larger than the largest size? What if "Small" is a tad too small or too large? The user has only a fixed set of choices.

Compare this to Mozilla which has a brilliant "Custom" zoom option, where you can type in whatever you want. I've used it a few times to set 300%.

Why use a really large size? Because sometimes I like to make out a piece of text that is difficult to fathom out, such as two overlapping words, or a Chinese character set in a tiny font.

The user should be able to choose whatever text size they want. If IE were to implement say 10 settings instead of 5, how would they word them? The modern browser clearly can generate any size at all, just by a quick bit of maths, so percentages are the way to go. (They clearly allow for any size at all to be used.)

Opera is probably the most useful zoom program because all you have to do is press the + and - keys on the Numpad to use it. (Keep them pressed down and watch that page zoom in!)

Hester




msg:1583769
 3:36 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Opera has a bug, but is supposed to do: + and -, only - works though, odd that they haven't fixed that yet

It's odd that the + above the = doesn't work (when using SHIFT). But why would you use that anyway, unless you don't have a numpad?

BTW, Opera excels by also allowing * on the numpad, which resets the zoom to 100% instantly!

choster




msg:1583770
 3:50 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

IE/Windows gets it really wrong because you have to go all the way into the Text Size menu to check the setting.
Really? My default IE installation (IE6, Dell) places the text-size icon in the main button bar.
zaptd




msg:1583771
 4:05 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

We have an extremely low vision surfer at our house. Opera is his browser of choice because of its ability to zoom images (navigational buttons).

Anybody who needs a 200% Zoom can't even read the browser menu. Such users are in need of help that lies outside the scope of an application and such help should rightly be provided at the level of the operating system or an assistive application.

Wrong approach. If you use CSS to control layout and presentation, we can make the necessary adjustments on our end. Itís that simple.

HTH,
CK

isitreal




msg:1583772
 4:10 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

But why would you use that anyway, unless you don't have a numpad?

I almost never use my numberpad, it's a user preference, maybe a habit I picked up when I only had a laptop, I don't know, but it's surprising that opera let that one slip by, especially since almost all laptop users would be using the + above the = as first choice, I know I don't use a number pad because it's easier for me to keep my hands in one position when I type, can't speak for anyone else.

<added>By the way, I agree that Opera's zoom is the best one out there, make everything bigger has always seemed the best way to go, but Mozilla's maintaining the layout and zooming all text is a pretty good option, this to me would be a simple matter of which way you want it done, apples and oranges, IE has the worst resizing by far.

Also, it's not just people with bad vision who can benefit from keyboard shortcut controlled text sizing, I've hit more than one site where a font sizing error made the fonts about 7 or 8 px, unreadable, that's what made me switch finally from IE to mozilla, since IE wouldn't resize those fonts, since they were I think absolute font size, not relative.

[edited by: isitreal at 4:36 pm (utc) on May 20, 2004]

ricfink




msg:1583773
 4:22 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is why I love this newsgroup.

I had no idea that you could put a text-size button on the toolbar in IE. But I assure you it's not the default config. Good for Dell, if that's how they're configuring it for their machines.
However, you still have to click it to find out at what size you are at. Ideally, it should display the current setting along side the drop-down button.

Keep it comin' I'll be back...

HarryM




msg:1583774
 4:44 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

We shouldn't compare text resizing with zoom - they are two different animals. They complement each other.

Zoom

Zoom is a feature which is useful to those that use it, but a particular method of implementing it should never become standardized. That will only curb future development.

Opera is clearly the way forwards. Whereas Mozilla with its "Text Zoom" gets it wrong. It's not a true zoom but just text resizing under another name.

Text resizing

Text resizeability is defined in standards because it is part of the html.

In my view IE gets it right. The designer has the choice whether to make text resizeable or not. For instance the integrity of the page design (layout, gifs, links, etc.) can be maintained while allowing the text content (specified in em's) to be resized by the user.

Thankfully those browsers that resize text no matter how specified are in the minority, otherwise anyone who does not want their design broken would have to resort to gifs. And where would our CSS links be then?

isitreal




msg:1583775
 4:53 pm on May 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

HarryM: I used to think exactly the way you did, I was really annoyed when I realized that Gecko would let users resize any text since that broke my precious nav bars, but the more I use this stuff, and the more pages with incorrectly, absolutely sized, text I run across, the less I think this.

However, I'm starting to also learn that for narrow bars, using ems is a much better way to go for setting widths and margins, since that always follows the font size, and does not disrupt the layout at all, best of all worlds.

Users who need the text bigger need it all bigger, and since the only real issues that come up with text resizing are generally cosmetic unless you are using positioned divs with absolute heights, which I would argue violate the increasingly popular notion of accessibility for this kind of reason, there's no real downside.

Mozilla's text resizing is just that, look in the view tab, it doesn't say zoom, it says 'increase text size, decrease text size', that's pretty accurate, that's exactly what it does.

HarryM




msg:1583776
 1:26 am on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

isitreal,

I take your point, but I think it's up to the designer whether the display should be resizeable. This is what the standards allow, for browsers that follow the standards.

In an ideal world all browsers would have a zoom facility like Opera - I'll just have to wait and see what the next release of IE has.

As to Mozilla, on my browser (1.6) it doesn't say "increase text size, decrease text size", it says "Text Zoom" with the shortcut being "Z". I still think it's a misnomer.

isitreal




msg:1583777
 2:00 am on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I take your point, but I think it's up to the designer whether the display should be resizeable.

This was exactly my feeling too, I was really mad when I saw that feature first, but the unfortunate fact is that once a browser is released, it's out there, and those are the features you have to deal with, whether it's IE 5/6, Mozilla (I guess Mozilla releases use text zoom, firefox/bird don't, but Mozilla is getting phased out, or so they keep claiming while releasing version after version), Opera, or Safari.

Most sites I see simply opt for the design to work with average text sizing, which strikes me as completely reasonable.

TheDave




msg:1583778
 2:26 am on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've never noticed the opera zoom before, so just tested it then. One thing I did notice about the opera zoom is that transperancies on gifs gets converted to black at anything but 100% size, which is a bit weak..

Aside from that, I think the image zooming in opera is quite good, and definately better than IE's option of text size only.

Hester




msg:1583779
 9:56 am on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

You cannot and should not stop the user altering any aspect of your precious layout. Anyone who thinks they can hold on to a design and force it onto the user are living in the past. Browsers are able to display your page without any styles and positioning at all. Browsers are able to alter the text size so all fonts can be readable for people with poor eyesight. Of course this will break the layout. Learn to live with it. You cannot stop it.

Design to allow for an increase of 200% in the text size (and more if you can). Use 'liquid layouts' if possible.

Remember too, there are handheld devices that will display your site in a totally different way too. Use Opera to give you a demo of what your site might look like on a mobile. (SHIFT + F11)

Many browsers also allow a mixture of styles to be applied to a page. If I wanted, I could turn off all the tables on this page. Or force the colours into black and white only. Or hide images that aren't links.

These are all accessibility tools to help the user. By now you should have realised that no site is 'set in stone'. Pity the poor designer who thinks it is. Perhaps they want it like a printed page. The web ain't like that. It's a dynamic space where the same content can be displayed in many different ways.

All the discussion and praise (!) for IE6 is pointless anyway because that browser cannot resize fonts set in pixels. Since a vast majority are, it makes it completely useless for text resizing. (Not everyone knows about ems - and about the terrible text resizing bug that results if you use them. (It can be got round luckily if the designer uses certain code.)) Note that most other browsers allow pixel fonts to be resized, even IE5 on the Mac. IE6 is the stick in the mud, an accessibility disaster.

IE7 will allow the entire contents of the window to be smoothly resized. (A feature affecting all windows - it's part of Longhorn.)

HarryM




msg:1583780
 11:22 am on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Anyone who thinks they can hold on to a design and force it onto the user are living in the past.

Personally I think the converse is true. The vast majority of internet users browse with IE and I suspect the majority of those do not even know they can resize the text. Nor do they know anything about personal stylesheets.

Designers can create fluid or fixed designs that best suit their product/target users, and with a well designed site there should be no need to resize. If there is, then the designer is not doing a good job.

Most people (like myself) who have difficulty reading smallish text have that problem across all media including print, and they buy reading spectacles. For those who find this insufficient, an Opera-style zoom would be the answer. The fact that "IE7 will allow the entire contents of the window to be smoothly resized" rather than just resizing text, supports this argument.

I must admit to a personal bias - I like looking at well designed pages, and I never resize anything. I have never felt the need. In fact I often find that fluid designs go hand-in-hand with sloppy amateur designs - they are too easy to create.

Another point is that in a short while sites using Chinese characters will be in the majority. It will be interesting to see how these sites evolve. Most Chinese sites I have seen use a fixed layout.

Hester




msg:1583781
 1:24 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

IE7 isn't offering smooth zooming to retain the layout. It's doing it because it can. Like I said, every window will be zoomable. So if you were to install Mozilla on Longhorn, it too would suddenly have a smooth zoom feature. (As far as I know - unless only native Windows programs benefit from this feature.)

What this works like in practice of course is another matter. I don't like the way Opera handles images when zooming in. Neither option available (smooth or non-smooth) makes them look 'right' to me. Plus it generates errors, by allowing identical lines on a page to appear with some thicker than others.

At least IE7 will get round the ridiculous 'fixed pixel fonts' issue.

I often find that fluid designs go hand-in-hand with sloppy amateur designs - they are too easy to create.

That has not been my experience. Many designers find it very hard to create liquid designs, because they need to work on a wide range of screen widths, without content overlapping or wrapping badly, etc. It can also means messing about with floats, not something for beginners to tackle.

Regarding Chinese sites, they and other oriental sites I've seen have tended to be fairly basic, relying on tables. The answer is either that connections are still slow for many users (I doubt all of China is on broadband due to the size of the country) or that the grid-like nature of the Chinese characters lends itself more to using fixed layouts.

TheDave:
One thing I did notice about the opera zoom is that transperancies on gifs gets converted to black at anything but 100% size, which is a bit weak..

This isn't the case for me. Gifs stay transparent. Are you using a low-spec graphics card? That might be a cause?

ricfink




msg:1583782
 2:51 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Some food for thought here:

Everybody knows that IE doesn't resize text set in pixels. But, as usual, what everybody knows is wrong.

This ventures into the realm of CSS but here goes:

1) Font-size keywords are absolute, not relative units.
They are actually pixel units in disguise. Font-size keywords are the only pixel-based CSS units IE will resize. If you set a base of body {font-size:medium} and then set all other elements as percentages of that - all the text will resize and reflow.

2) IE has a CSS Zoom feature as of IE 5.5. And it works quite nicely. As good as anything Opera does. It zooms images particularly well.

The problem is that it has to be applied via Javascript and, right now, that means putting some sort of text-size widget on each page which is a tough sell.

3) Hester is right, your pages are gonna get Zoomed, get used to it and learn to design with that in mind.
Keep your div heights set at 'auto', for instance.

4) We are stuck with IE 6 and IE 5.5 for some time to come. 5.5 will, at some point, go the way of the version 4 browsers but how long it will take is anybody's guess. IE6 we will have to live with for the foreseeable future. More years than any of us would like to think.

Hester




msg:1583783
 3:14 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Everybody knows that IE doesn't resize text set in pixels. But, as usual, what everybody knows is wrong.

Really? It's a fact. No disputing it I would say.

1) Font-size keywords are absolute, not relative units.

Another not-well-known thing: pixels are relative units! (The W3C defines them as relative to the computer screen.)

They are actually pixel units in disguise. Font-size keywords are the only pixel-based CSS units IE will resize. If you set a base of body {font-size:medium} and then set all other elements as percentages of that - all the text will resize and reflow.

Excuse me for appearing ignorant, but aren't you saying "set fonts in percentages and IE will zoom them"? That's easy. If you use pixels you cannot resize the text. Or are you saying you can if you use a keyword on the body tag?

2) IE has a CSS Zoom feature as of IE 5.5. And it works quite nicely. As good as anything Opera does. It zooms images particularly well.

This is news to me. Is it built-in? If so, where?

The problem is that it has to be applied via Javascript and, right now, that means putting some sort of text-size widget on each page which is a tough sell.

Ah, are you refering to stylesheets the designer must first create? (Eg: separate ones for each size.) Or merely CSS set using relative units so everything can be resized? Or the IE-only DHTML zoom filter?

Either way, none of these options are something the user can click on a button to activate as part of the standard browser tools.

TGecho




msg:1583784
 6:27 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

[msdn.microsoft.com...]

There are also bookmarklets that use IE's zoom at [sam-i-am.com...]

That one increments by 50%, but you can easily change that.

SuzyUK




msg:1583785
 8:13 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Zoom is best..

Personally speaking... I like Opera's method best, it makes sense that you should be able to make everything on the page scale together.. I don't think I would care about quality of images as long as the page still made sense..

I use FF for other reasons, and find that enough for my needs, and I do use ctrl + often, I hate reading "microfonts" (and my eyesight is fine..;)) if the design "breaks" then I understand what's happening, so it's personal preference, I can still read what I want to..



Ignoring the pixel/resize debate.. and assuming that this discussion is based on the resize capabilites as opposed to inabilities..

For ricfink:
I ran up some test pages (which I'll need to look out, for more facts). In general, imo, IE's 5 (increments) sizes weren't enough. With todays trend for tiny text. If, in your CSS, you make your base size font 76%, or x-small, or 0.8em and the user is starting from a medium default (16px)..(note: this 76% was supposedly a "recommended" size I found on my research travels..)

This meant the IE user even with the resize capabilities only has a range between 9px and 16px
actual finding:

  • smallest = 9px
  • smaller = 10px
  • medium = 12px - default
  • larger = 14px
  • largest = 16px

Which is better than nothing I agree, but not really much use for either spectrum of requirements (resize: larger or smaller) and the smaller end (some eyesight problems mean that the use may actually need smaller) of the scale only had 1px difference..

I was concentrating on the range of sizes available as opposed to the actual value. I found that 14px (which I believe is Mac's default now?) was an "optimum" setting, it gave a range between 10px - 19px. I felt this was better because unlike the last recommended size which only had a small difference between the smallest available sizes 9/10px.. it gave what *I think* is a noticeable difference in the largest available size.
the but! ~ it has no "keyword" equivalent in IE, the relative equivalents were 87.5%, 0.9em.

Actual findings

  • smallest = 10px
  • smaller = 12px
  • medium = 14px - default
  • larger = 16px
  • largest = 19px

It's not that I think IE is right or wrong, it's just that as designer who will be taken to task as soon as something "doesn't work", I want to know what I'm working with (IE usually ;)), But I'd love it viewers could all have access to zoom (see my preferences). So if IE7 is going to address this then all well and good, but we still have to deal with 5+ & 6 for the forseeable future.

My assumption in these tests were that the majority of users agree that 16px (medium) as a default was "too big". I tend to agree with this because as I said before some users not only prefer, but need, to get access to smaller text as well as larger so finding the "happy medium" was my goal..

for anyone who's interested here's the default size range.. for that setting..

  • smallest = 12px
  • smaller = 13px
  • medium = 16px - default
  • larger = 19px
  • largest = 21px

So because there is as there is no keyword equivalent between x-small and medium, an obvious answer might be just to let your pages appear at default, and if you like small text you should adjust your browser down the way, although somehow I don't think that's going to happen now ;)

Disclaimers:
default is assumed to be 16px (and I know some recent Macs have changed this now)
font-family: helvetica, arial, verdana, sans-serif;
was used in tests so other font-families may differ slightly, tested in this because it another of todays common preferences. (serif fonts do make a difference to actual pixel size, but as I said my tests were concerned with range)

This is not meant to incite an what's right or wrong with IE argument. It's just my findings when I decided to dig deeper..

Suzy

iamlost




msg:1583786
 8:40 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

From:
[w3.org ]
4.1 Allow global configuration and control over the reference size of rendered text, with an option to override reference sizes specified by the author or user agent defaults. Allow the user to choose from among the full range of font sizes supported by the operating environment.
......
User agents may offer different mechanisms to allow control of the size of rendered text (e.g., font size control, zoom, magnification, etc.). Refer, for example to the Scalable Vector Graphics specification [SVG] for information about scalable rendering.
.......
The choice of optimal techniques depends in part on which markup language is being used. For instance, HTML user agents may allow the user to change the font size of a particular piece of text (e.g., by using CSS user style sheets) independent of other content (e.g., images). Since the user agent can reflow the text after resizing the font, the rendered text will become more legible without, for example, distorting bitmap images. On the other hand, some languages, such as SVG, do not allow text reflow, which means that changes to font size may cause rendered text to overlap with other content, reducing accessibility. SVG is designed to scale, making a zoom functionality the more natural technique for SVG user agents satisfying this checkpoint.

This and other reading seems to indicate that the current version browsers are each doing one or two steps of an accessibility staircase. Unfortunately, as usual, each is on a different stair, and none implement the entire staircase.

The options include:

  1. increase/decrease text size only.
  2. increase/decrease everything (text and graphics) on the page .
  3. focus on a particular element (text or graphic) and increase/decrease only that element.

The user to be able to control which of the different enhancements are appropriate in any given situation.

As mentioned earlier in this thread each option has advantages and disadvantages. I expect that is why W3c is recommending (not requiring - unfortunate IMHO) support for all of them.

My 2-cents worth: None of the browsers get it right, yet. All three options are desirable and necessary. A browser offering only one or two of the options will always make some viewing situation more difficult than it needs to be. Further: If you are an artist you are entitled to lock your design as you see fit. If you are in business you better offer what the customer wants and as no two ever seem to want the same thing at the same time you better offer them control and choice.

HarryM




msg:1583787
 11:47 pm on May 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Regarding Chinese sites, they and other oriental sites I've seen have tended to be fairly basic, relying on tables

They are basic for the same reason some of the most successful US/European sites are basic - because tables work in all browsers. Because of the nature of Chinese text, Chinese sites tend to have more than three columns. Easy to do in tables, but a nightmare with divs.

TheDave




msg:1583788
 2:35 am on May 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

One thing I did notice about the opera zoom is that transperancies on gifs gets converted to black at anything but 100% size, which is a bit weak..

Are you using a low-spec graphics card? That might be a cause?

asus geforce4 ti4200, running at 1024x768 in 32bit color...

It might even be a configuration option - or perhaps it was just the gifs on my site. I can't check right now, I'm on a different computer, but will later.

Hester




msg:1583789
 9:17 am on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

SuzyUK - don't forget that the default text size in IE6 is "Smaller" - not "Medium"! (Though this depends on the version of Windows.)

Opera's "zoom everything" approach does have one drawback though: you get scrollbars that get wider as you zoom in. So the page is harder to manage.

The opposite approach, of just enlarging the text, gives you a lot of overlapping, eventually making the page almost unreadable.

Also - Mozilla and Opera allow you to set a "Minimum Font Size" used on pages - no more tiny text!

SuzyUK




msg:1583790
 3:59 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

SuzyUK - don't forget that the default text size in IE6 is "Smaller" - not "Medium"!

Yes thanks for the reminder.. My default is medium, and to date I still think the most browsers defaults are set at 16px.. (though that could have changed?)

I did read that thread a while back about the differences in settings, hmmm... maybe like Mac borwsers IE are taking the decision to ship with a lower default than 16px, but by lowering the setting from medium to smaller (if that's what has happened) that doesn't actually alter the pixel ranges available on the keyowrds.

>>Setting minimum font-sizes, I didn't know that, probably because I never mess with the defaults for developing/testing.. hence my preference of keyboard shortcuts to get rid of the tiny text if it's something I actually want to read...if it breaks the page I'm not so fussed as I'm not looking at the design in that case..

None of the browsers get it right, yet. All three options are desirable and necessary.

I concur.. :)

Suzy

ricfink




msg:1583791
 5:15 pm on May 26, 2004 (gmt 0)

A question:

Do you agree that if IE/Windows had a Zoom feature, sizing fonts in ems and percentages would fall into disuse?
It seems to me that the only reason these units get as much use as they do is because designers are "writing to IE", that is they are compensating for IE's lack of zoom. Are not pixels a lot more straightforward to use?
All you have to know is how to count!
(Check out the crazy resizing that takes place with digital-web's newly redesigned site. And these guys are gurus!)

(One excellent technique is to set font size on body to, for intance, 12px. 12 pixels is 12 pixels no matter what browser, no matter what platform. Then you size all the other text in percentages of that base 12px. In this way you CAN do a liquid design and still use pixel sizing for text, but, of course, even this technique is unresizeable in IE without help from javascript.)

Misc:

Setting the font-size on body to 76% comes from extensive testing done by Owen Briggs.(thenoodleincident.com)

All of us posting to this thread can agree that a pixel is the smallest dot on the screen, right? Well, according to the W3C CSS spec that's not the case.
What the CSS spec says is downright bizarre:

"The suggested reference pixel is the visual angle of one pixel on a device with a pixel density of 90dpi and a distance from the reader of an arm's length. For a nominal arm's length of 28 inches, the visual angle is about 0.0227 degrees."

This nonsense has been wisely disregarded by browser makers except for some earlier versions of Opera.

You can make a case that pixels are relative units because their actual physical size changes with screen size and resolution. But on the other hand, 10 pixels from the left side of the browser window is 10 pixels from the left side of the browser window no matter what the screen size or resolution.

I don't care what the W3C calls them, a pixel is not a relative unit in the same sense that em and percentage are. Just common sense.

The Microsoft documentation calls font-size keywords absolute units. That's because each keyword maps to a specific pixel size which IE then scales. Absolute fact. The conventional wisdom that IE won't scale pixel units is not without an exeception. (OK, so I exaggerated!)

And, yes, IE6 in standards mode sizes the font size keywords differently than IE6 in quirks and IE5.
But that gap can be bridged easily with well-known hacks.

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