Avalon, high DPI and screen real estate

Today, beloved readers, I will weave a story of powerful forces in conflict with each other through time, and how Avalon saves the day...

As time goes by, screens are getting better resolution for the same physical size. This means we get smaller content, and more "room" to put that content in. My home LCD runs at 1280x1024, and that's not the largest I've seen by far.

More screen real estate, more content that is visible at the same time, happy users (unless they can't read the small font).

What we generally have is more pixels in the same space, or in other words, our dots-per-inch have increased. Enter high DPI.

Normally, Windows runs in 96 dots-per-inch, so a high resolution means small content. However, you can ask the OS to run at a higher DPI setting.

You do this by changing the value from the dialog that pops up when you press the Advanced button of the Settings tab of the Display Properties dialog, which in turn you can invoke by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Properties. Admittedly, I've changed this value once in two years, so I can't complain of it being out of the way. :-)

Back to our scheduled story. Setting a higher DPI value is a step in the opposite direction from hardware advanced - things are bigger now, so you can fit less content on your screen at once.

I encourage you to try this right now on your machine if you have a good LCD display. I'll wait.

Combined with ClearType technology, the results are gorgeous. The content is sized bigger, but the curves in fonts and other content take advantage of all the teeny tiny pixels to draw a path that is much more pleasant to the eye.

Avalon now allows developers to very easily create scalable content that looks good at any physical resolution. This is done by introducing resolution-independent and device-independent graphics together with the strong emphasis on vectors.

My own, wild, personal bet, is that users will use higher DPI settings when they see how great it looks, and that yes, developers will still need to make smart choices about how they allocate screen real state in their application to get the best results.

So it looks like better resolution will not solve all of problems screen designers face (and what fun would that be?), but instead they will enable end-users to have an awesome experience using their computers. And that, in my book, is goodness.

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.