Linux & Open Source

Freetype with Bytecode Interpreter

I am the maintainer and writer of most of the official Linux Font-HOWTO [official home], and one of its main points is to explain what is the TrueType Bytecode Interpreter.

I spent some time this morning updating the freetype package on my system [get RPMs], compiling it with support to BCI, and I took the chance to get some “before & after” screenshots of Konqueror browser accessing Google Mail with and without BCI.

Check it out. This is better than makeup ads:

Before: Original Freetype lib without BCI After: New Freetype RPM compiled with BCI
freetype4-nbci.png freetype4-bci.png
freetype1-nbci.png freetype1-bciaa.png freetype1-bci.png
freetype2-nbci.png freetype2-bciaa.png freetype2-bci.png
freetype3-nbci.png freetype3-bciaa.png freetype3-bci.png

After switching to BCI-enabled freetype, the use of Webcore fonts without anti-aliasing gives much much much better results, as you can see. Unfortunately these fonts are not free, but they are better than the popular Bitstream Vera fonts because they include hinting information.

BTW, anti-aliasing is useful in 2 situations only: if you are rendering fonts in big sizes (bigger than 13px), or if you have bad, non-hinted fonts (as Bitstream Vera) with a bad font rendering library (as Freetype without BCI support). If you have good hinted fonts and a good rendering library (as Freetype with BCI), restrict anti-alising only for big font sizes.

12 comments to Freetype with Bytecode Interpreter

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