Anti-Aliasing Hall of Shame: Pages 1.0.x

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Anti-Aliasing Hall of Shame, Microsoft, Pages
October 25th, 2005 • 10:53 am

While it is true that Carbon applications form the bulk of this Anti-Aliasing Hall of Shame in Mac OS X, it doesn’t mean that all Cocoa applications are perfect. Cocoa applications don’t usually have the same problems as Carbon applications, but they can have problems of their own with anti-aliasing.

Apple’s Pages application is a prime example. It’s obviously an application that was built from the ground up for Mac OS X. Yet it suffers from a fundamental problem with font anti-aliasing that obviously only slipped through because of Apple’s own carelessness.

Take the following two screen shots:

Font smoothing for CRT in Word

Font smoothing for FP in Word

They are two screen shots of the exact same text in a Word 2004 document with the exact same font (Times New Roman 11 pt) and zoom (150%) settings. The only difference is that the first one was with the “Font smoothing style” setting (in the “Appearance” preference pane in System Preferences) set to “Standard – best for CRT,” and the second one was with the “Font smoothing style” setting set to “Medium – best for Flat Panel.”

In other words, Word, for once, is a well-behaved Mac OS X citizen and uses the font smoothing style chosen by the user in System Preferences.

Now if you try the exact same thing in Pages, here’s what you get:

Font smoothing for CRT in Pages

Font smoothing for FP in Pages

Can you see a difference between the two samples? You can’t, because there isn’t one. Regardless of what “Font smoothing style” setting is selected in the “Appearance” preference pane in System Preferences, Pages always uses the same font smoothing style, and, as far as I can tell, it is the standard “best for CRT” style.

There is no excuse for this. Apple makes both the OS and Pages. They, of all people, should comply with Mac OS X’s standards and respect the user’s preference.

I’ve reported this bug to Apple and they have acknowledged that it is a problem and said that they are “working on a solution,” but of course it could be months before a Pages update is released.

Even then, I won’t be surprised if you have to upgrade to Pages 2.0 (at a price) in order to get the fix. The Pages 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 updates that have been released so far did not fix this or indeed any other significant problem with Pages that I am aware of and have reported on in this blog (under the “Pages” category). If Apple really wants more people to embrace Pages as an alternative to Word or as a replacement for AppleWorks, they’d better start showing more commitment to the application soon.

6 Responses to “Anti-Aliasing Hall of Shame: Pages 1.0.x”

  1. Olivier says:

    Am I the only one to be bothered by all but the ‘Standard – best for CRT’ anti-aliasing method because I can actually see the coloured pixels used instead of grey?

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I know it bothers some people, but I honestly have never had any problem with it. I find the standard font smoothing too lightweight/thin. The medium setting suits me just fine. Maybe pixel density is a factor? (I use an older 23″ HD.)

    I know that Adobe applications come with their own font smoothing, which can be fine-tuned. Some people also claim that Microsoft’s font smoothing (in Windows) is better…

  3. vaag says:

    Keynote also belongs in your ‘Hall of Shame’. With appearance set to ‘Best for flat panel’ Keynote has the same traditional way of rendering as Pages has, instead of the subpixel rendering which you can see in other OS X apps like TextEdit, Mail, Safari etc. Very odd indeed.

  4. Jussi says:

    Thanks for fulfilling my request in a very timely manner. I too have filed this as a bug some time in spring, but I can’t tell what if anything is being done with it..

    I actually forgot some programs from my original request list :) Dock/Dashboard is probably my pet peeve and some of the menubar extras (clock is the most visible example) also refuse to use subpixel anti-aliasing.

  5. LoonyPandora says:

    You are not the only one Oliver – I can’t stand anything but the ‘Standard’ setting on any display.

    I can see all the colours, regardless of display. I have the same problems on my Old 15″ Apple LCD at work, iMac G5 17″ at home, and on the many customer machines I look at daily. I guess it’s just a personal thing, nothing to do with the display type :-/

  6. My opinion of iWork ‘09 » Kristan Kenney’s Digital Life says:

    […] being used at all), so that was my biggest concerns in terms of improvements. Apple has fixed the font rendering issue that has been around since the first version of Pages, plus they have added Outlines and Full […]

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