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First Firefox port screenshots

By Chris Williams. Published: 7th Apr 2005, 22:57:00 | Permalink | Printable

Holy XHTML+CSS, Batman!

firefox on RISC OS rendering TheRegister.co.ukPeter Naulls has published online a set of screenshots of Firefox running natively on RISC OS. Powered by the ChoX11 library that acts as a layer between the X11 Windows based web browser and the RISC OS desktop, the Firefox port is shown having rendered a number of popular websites.

"This is some way from style guide compliant, but the overwhelming response I've had from talking to people is that this isn't a big issue in the first instance," said Peter.

"They would rather have a fully functioning browser that isn't entirely integrated into RISC OS rather than one that is integrated but doesn't work properly."

Peter's website identifies a number of graphical glitches present in the port and discusses how he will iron them out. His work, announced last month, has also recently been sponsored by Advantage6 and Spellings Computer Services. Although no release date has been named, Peter says the time until a beta version is released "will not be substantial".

The Firefox port will be demonstrated first in public at a usergroup meeting next week.


Firefox port page Peter Naulls is a drobe.co.uk editor

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Some of the most welcome screenshots I think I've ever seen on Drobe ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 7/4/05 11:07PM
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Very nice :)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 7/4/05 11:11PM
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Already looking significantly nicer than its Windows/Linux counterparts due to the RISC OS anti-aliased fonts.

Peter, I'm very impressed at the progress of your work. I suppose I'd better start scraping together the cash for that pledge! :-)

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 8/4/05 12:17AM
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Nice one Peter, Firefox has replaced Opera as my favourite browser - it's a much more enjoyable experience browsing the net with it. I look forward to using it on RISC OS (when I get near RISC OS that is) :-)

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 8/4/05 3:06AM
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To pledge, and to pledge again.

Certainly looks well worth contributing towards. Well done Peter.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 8/4/05 3:57AM
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A modern Linux desktop will include anti-aliased fonts for much of the text in Firefox and other apps, although perhaps you could argue that RO still looks better. It can cause problems sometimes when an application expects to be able to get exactly the same pixels to achieve shadows, etc.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 8/4/05 8:00AM
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Concerning the Flash plugin: I thought Macromedia does make the original source of their player available to non-profit porting projects under NDA?

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 8/4/05 8:14AM
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Perhaps you can provide a reference. That is better than guessing, or sending people off on a wild goose chance,

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 8/4/05 9:06AM
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You have done a marvellous piece of work, Peter. Is it maybe possible to get rid of the underlined text in the options bar and make it like pulldown menus or only tickable images like you have done on the other tickable images below. Personally i do not like underlined options.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 8/4/05 10:04AM
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JGZimmerlechocky: This is what I could find: [link]

It seems to be aimed at commercial ventures - and asks questions about unit shipments and the like. I would guess an application from one of the hardware manufacturers would be more likely to be successful - even then there is no clear indication of costconditions of access to the source coderedistribution rights. (Well not that I could see).

One thing at a time though! We nearly have Firefox :) A big well done to Peter!

 is a RISC OS Userbenc on 8/4/05 2:01PM
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tamias: What, you prefer the font rendering on [link] to the font rendering on [link] ? You must have anti-blur vision, or something.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 8/4/05 2:44PM
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Probably not the place to ask, but as anti-aliasing has come up... Does anybody know if the 'sub-pixel anti-aliasing' which has been available for RISC OS for however long is the same thing as Microsoft's ClearType? If it is, then I think Microsoft needs to be put in their place! They practically claiming that they invented the technology! [link]

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 8/4/05 4:35PM
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I suppose the only thing to say is... YAY :-D

Being sensible now :-)

Reiterating Peter's comments on the site - if you have access to a mac/PC check it out.

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 8/4/05 4:43PM
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Smiler: What RISC OS's renderer does is called sub-pixel positioning, which is very different from sub-pixel anti-aliasing. RISC OS can position characters with sub-pixel accuracy. (IE, two letter 'a's at 24.5483123pt are unlikely to be a whole number of pixels wide, so each one will be different when they're kerned together). Sub-pixel anti-aliasing uses the fact that LCD screens have three pixels for each "logical" one - a red, a green and a blue one. It uses that to provide finer-grained anti-aliasing.

Most modern font renderers try to avoid sub-pixel positioning intentionally, because it's pretty much mutually exclusive to using hinting. (Which is why RISC OS fonts often look so blury, and FreeType's, amongst others, don't - they try to squeeze the lines of the character's glyphs into whole pixels, and then just anti-alias the curves and major errors.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 8/4/05 4:50PM
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Oh, [link] and [link] provide quite a bit of information on the subject.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 8/4/05 4:51PM
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On an even more related note, why does Drobe seem to randomly condense links?

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 8/4/05 4:52PM
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In reply to Nunfetishist: I don't think your description of sub-pixel anti-aliasing is quite right. The technique works equally well on LCD or CRT monitors and does not rely on the RGB elements of the display.

If you consider a line of proportionaly spaced text, it is unlikely that each letter should start exactly on a pixel boundary (because pixels are quite coarse compared to character spacing). Sub-pixel anti-aliasing makes the font manager work to a higher spacing resolution than pixels (hence sub-pixel). The effect is to smooth out the character spacing, especially noticable for small font sizes (which is why you can control the maximum size it is used at).

The effect is subtle but pleasing; I suggest you try it on 10 or 12 point text in something like Easiwriter and turn it on and off. It has no effect on the appearance or individual letters, so it won't make them look more or less blurred. Personally, I think RO fonts look crisp and well rendered when anti-aliasing is on (especially compared to recent Windows implementations) but YMMV.

Interactive help on the fonts dialogue in Configure is very informative (helpful) on this subject.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 8/4/05 5:45PM
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In reply to Nunfetishist: OTOH, I think that's exactly what you said. Oops. Sorry.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 8/4/05 5:47PM
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I am not sure why hinting should be "mutually exclusive" with anti-aliasing. In short, it isn't. And the jujusoft guy seems to be pretty much trapped inside his own work instead of looking at what other font renderers are able to achieve (anti-aliasing only in high colour - yeah, whatever). And this includes ClearType.

Just take a hinted RISC OS font and experiment with the sub-pixel stuff, and you'll soon see the advantages of having both.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 8/4/05 5:55PM
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Yes, the spacing on the freetype png is terrible, and the e is horrible too. RISC OS fonts have hinting and scaffolding anyway.

Long links are condensed to avoid html renderers making pages too wide, for some reason they think pages wider than the current window width and/or max screen width are a good idea.

With Firefox and Cineroma, will 2005 be the year of RISC OS on the desktop?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 8/4/05 5:58PM
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hubersn: I didn't say that hinting was mutally exclusive with anti-aliasing. I said it was mutally exclusive with sub-pixel positioning. Because when you're using sub-pixel positioning, what are you trying to align the shapes to? RISC OS's font rendering really is quite primitive in this day and age. It was ahead of the rest at one point, alas that point was some time ago. (Of course, FreeType can be configured to render fonts just like RISC OS's FontManager does. It just nobody does because it looks awful.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 8/4/05 6:04PM
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TonyStill: Yes, it looks like you're confusing sub-pixel anti-aliasing (which uses the sub-pixels on an LCD display to increase resolution) and sub-pixel positioning (which shifts the position of characters by less than a pixel by using anti-aliasing).

I can't quite see how using sub-pixel positioning can be in any way more crisp than having it turned off, but most of the time more blury, because more pixels aren't occupying precisely one pixel. The only advantage it has is to correctly space characters. But the characters are only going to be at worse 1 pixel out (which you really can't notice on modern high-resolution displays) and much less blury if you don't use it.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 8/4/05 6:22PM
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All I can say is 'Hurry up, mrchocky!' :-)

 is a RISC OS UserJo@ROHC on 8/4/05 7:14PM
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Seems to be coming along nicely. A RISC OS menu system will be the icing on the cake.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 8/4/05 7:37PM
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It's horses for courses. I honestly prefer RISC OS style font rendering for design work - otherwise at small point sizes, what's the point of selecting a font, when a number of them can end up looking almost identical? Wheras for code I've always used a plain bitmap font - though I'm not sure if that's due to habit or a real preference. However, for more general work where the content is more important than the presentation, something in the middle is preferable, like freetype in its standard configuration of smoothing the corners but leaving the lines pretty much pixel aligned.

That said, in Rob's screenshop of the STD page, the e's look significantly wider than the o's, which I find distracting. That may be due to font issues though.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 8/4/05 7:53PM
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The comment regarding different anti-aliasing techniques for different situations is very true, and why programs such as Adobe Photoshop offer a variety of methods (Crisp, Sharp, Smooth, Strong IIRC) so that graphic designers can get precise control. There is no magic solution that suites everything. Personally I like the way RISC OS handles anti-aliasing and that in high resolution screen modes it excels as any associated blurring is not noticeable.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 9/4/05 1:33AM
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Will it be possible to print from Firefox?

 is a RISC OS UserArchie on 9/4/05 8:49AM
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I don't know; it certainly isn't a priority. Although if someone else wanted to implement it, then by all means.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 9/4/05 9:43AM
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Hmm. Doesn't Firefox currently print (in Unix, at least) by generating PostScript? (I may be wrong.) If so, it might be possible to combine that with GhostScript, if GhostScript had a suitable back-end for printing using the RISC OS drivers, which would also be useful for alsorts of other things if it doesn't already do it. (For a long time, my laser printer was a 'Windows' printer - it took WMF files instead of PostScript, so my Linux box ran GhostScript such that it spat out WMF to feed to CUPS)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 9/4/05 9:49AM
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Totally and utterly COOL!

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 9/4/05 11:34AM
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Peter: Is it possible to hear stereo sound through Firefox?

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 09/04/05 10:57PM
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Is that not what your ears are for?

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 09/04/05 11:12PM
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Datawave: sadly, that question makes as little sense as your last. I'm really not sure what you're on about. Browsers don't normally make sounds.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 09/04/05 11:31PM
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Maybe you haven't tried oregano :P

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 10/04/05 11:31AM
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Perhaps our Dutch datawave friend means playing MP3 or similar files via a possibly forthcoming plugin, in a similar vein as Oregano 2?

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 10/04/05 12:27AM
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It isn't the web browser that produces the sound though - it's the plugin.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 10/04/05 1:10PM
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WAVs, MP3s et al are usually played by an externally lauched application rather than a plugin. But this isn't a fixed rule, and depends precisely on the format, the manner in which it's fetched and the abilities of the player.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 10/04/05 1:44PM
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