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Fireworks CS6 text rendering is a disaster

Jun 6, 2012 12:04 AM

Tags: #adobe #fireworks #awful #text_rendering

This is text rendered in Fireworks CS6 next to text of the same size produced by Paint.NET, with both using their default settings.

fw-text1.png

And if we zoom in a bit:

fw-text2.png

Can you guess which was produced by a product costing $300, and which was produced by a free utility?

 

Seriously, is this a joke? There is no way I could use the garbage that CS6 is producing in production or to show to a client.

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 6, 2012 3:31 PM   in reply to JonR001

    If you want clear, readable text at such a small size, turn off antialiasing. Alternatively, use a pixel font specifically designed for use at small sizes.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 6, 2012 4:02 PM   in reply to JonR001

    Very different results, indeed. I'd be curious to know what typeface and size you're using.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 6, 2012 5:00 PM   in reply to JonR001

    BTW, this is called a "digital ligature". It's one of the advanced typesetting features in CS6!

     

    digital ligature.png

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 6, 2012 5:17 PM   in reply to JonR001

    Yup. 10 px is too small. Turn off antialising.

     
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    Jun 6, 2012 5:37 PM   in reply to JonR001

    This thread has some interesting Custom Anti-Alias settings proposed by another user to mimic Photoshop:

     

    http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1006597?tstart=30

     

    They're a little more elegant than the Fireworks defaults, I think.

     

    The System Anti-Alias option was jettisoned with CS4, coinciding with an update or change to the Adobe Text Engine. Theoretically, the text engine allowed for better compatibility between applications, and yet it's still not an exact match (as the poster of the above thread could attest to).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 6, 2012 6:03 PM   in reply to JonR001

    I don't care what you see in Paint.net. It's Windows only software, so I couldn't see it if I wanted to. Every graphics program has its own rendering engine. You cannot expect them all to work in the same way. If you want readable 10px text in FW, you need to turn antialiasing off. I has aspoken. :-)

     
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    Jun 7, 2012 4:54 AM   in reply to JonR001

    What is so damn hard about turning off antialiasing? Sheesh. :-)

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 5:09 AM   in reply to JonR001

    Prior to CS4, Fireworks used its original Macromedia text rendering engine. With CS4, it was replaced with the Adobe text rendering engine, due in large part to the fact that text coming from PS or AI looked a LOT different when those files were opened in FW. Apparently, in that regard, things are better, but yes, we lost a couple very nice features that the Adobe Type Manager just isn't capable of recreating - at least not in Fireworks. We also gained a lot of typographic control we never had in earlier versions of FW. So it was a trade-off, perhaps not a balanced one, as your opinion indicates, but a trade-off nonetheless.

     

    If you are regularly using font sizes that are 10 px and smaller in your web page designs, and then rasterizing all that text for display on screen, my suggestion is to use the wishlist form on the Adobe site and report the rendering as a problem. Everything submitted to the wishform is read and logged. This is a user-to-user forum, designed to help users help each other (as has been tried, here). The forum is not regularly monitored by Adobe staff. The submissions from the wishlist are monitored. The more people that report the problem, the more likely the issue will be addressed.

     

     

    HTH

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 10:50 AM   in reply to JonR001

    It may be worth adding here that not every typeface will render well at a single, specific small size, like 10px. Particularly at small sizes, different typefaces have different "sweet spots". So a typeface that renders horribly at 10px may actually look quite decent at 9px.

     

    JonR001: If you don't have it already, I highly recommend The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici (published by Adobe Press!). It's extremely thorough yet readable. I purchased a second-hand 2003 edition at my local bookstore as the more recent updated version seemed to disappoint a lot reviewers.

     

    I suspect that what you're noticing is, in part, an outcome of history. As I understand it, Adobe built its empire on print and making technology that allowed for the production of high-quality print materials. The computer display was just a weigh station in that process, not the final goal. By contrast, Apple and Microsoft have always placed a higher priority on the actual screen output. It seems that Adobe has yet to come up with a way to incorporate both worlds within their software, in terms of typographical output. They're still hanging on to their successful, print-based system.

     

    Let's also keep in mind that, for screen output, it's better to use actual text—rather than an image of text—for at least two reasons, the first being accessibility, the second being type rendering.

     

    I've linked to this article elsewhere, but it's got some great insights into all that goes into rendering type on screen:

     

    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/02/the-ails-of-typographic-ant i-aliasing/

     

    Interestingly, while doing some quick studies on this, I noticed that Photoshop's interface uses 10px type, but with subpixel anti-aliasing:

     

    PS CS6 interface 400%.png

     

    Yet Photoshop itself cannot produce this kind of output. (I suppose this is being generated by the Mac OS?)

     

    I also found that, within Fireworks, the CS5 default Custom Anti-Alias setting—8x Oversampling, 192 Sharpness, 64 Strength—seemed to produce the best results:

     

    Custom AA 400%.png

     

    Then, of course, there's the aliased type option, but that seems to be a sore subject.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 7:31 PM   in reply to JonR001

    @JonR001: The tone of this discussion seems a bit strident, but I agree with your overall concern about this issue and I like that you took the time to share a specific example. It's great to question what's going on with this stuff, and it's a good observation on your part. I'd love to see Adobe do more with type rendering for the screen, as would other designers. Personally, I've wished more often for an update to their font menu system—to move beyond a single long, long list and introduce categorization or other options.

     

    Of course, they're never going to trumpet their deficiencies when selling their product... You'll only hear about it when and if it's finally fixed, or a new feature is introduced.

     

    I hope you're not focused on a single font in a single pixel size. At 10px, I think a designer should be flexible about choice of typeface and anti-aliasing. Aliased text is a legitimate option, whether for legibility or aesthetics, though not for all situations. Something I like to remind myself of, from time to time: pixels are a unit of resolution, not size. You're asking for a clean rendering of a complex vector shape, in the tiniest of grids. Some of the success or failure of that is up to the font designer, and some is up to the system or software doing the rendering (and some is up to your choices). And as much as the Paint.NET version in your example succeeds where Fireworks fails—it's a significant difference, no doubt—it still isn't the best typesetting choice imaginable, in either example. You're pushing things to their limit, and seeing where they break.

     

    Just more food for thought.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 11:31 PM   in reply to JonR001

    Not that it's necessarily a practical solution, but I used the Transform command to remove the anti-aliasing at the top of the letterforms (resulting in a font size of 9.73px and Horizontal Scale of 103%) and set Tracking to 3:

     

    Much cleaner.png

     

    Much cleaner 400%.png

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2013 6:35 PM   in reply to groove25

    Adobe has done us a great disservice. I need to produce PDF and printed comps of design work for my big client. I used Fireworks cs3 before upgrading to CS6. Now I have to recreate my work in Photoshop. Days of work. Thanks Adobe You Rock!

     
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