Photo of Jamie & Lion

The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

Browsing a sharper web

My eyesight is a litte ‘wonky’, this effects me in two ways. I am sometimes light sensitive, and i struggle with reading from computer screens.

To combat this for the last few years i have been using the screen zooming feature built into OSX. Apart from making other developers feel quesy when pair programming at my machine its been trouble free.

When you use screen zoom you have to accept a few limitations. For a start normally when you screen zoom everything gets pixelated. This is something i have mostly just learnt to live with.

For most of my interactions with the computer i can also increase font sizes to cope. Recently however i have been using a couple of new techniques which have really helped with my online activities.

Safari Tap to Zoom.

When OSX Lion was announced i was quite excited about desktop Safari inheriting iOS style tap to zoom. I only have Lion installed on my little 11” MacBook Air. At first performance in safari was very poor. I ended up moving to chrome to try and compensate.

However, with succsessive updates; OSX Lion performance has improved. This has made tap to zoom and pinch to zoom far more usable.

Tap to zoom combines two things which i like in a zoom function. Accuracy and text sharpness.

The lack of accuracy is a big issue with whole page zooming. Resizing the whole page makes page navigation difficult and needing to zoom in and out on every page is slow and fiddly. Before now, simply loading the page then screen zooming has been alot more productive.

Text sharpness is a place where tap to zoom really wins over screen zooming. As safari redraws the content the text is pixel sharp and clear. If you compare the two the quality difference is astounding.

HiDPI Mode.

I have written about HiDPI mode before, this mode is useful on very large screens but does not work on my MacBook screen.

Effectively HiDPI is like Retina mode for iPhones and iPads except the screen does not have the doubled pixel count. The practical upshot is everything on the screen doubles in size but stays pin sharp.

Its pretty effective but far from perfect. In the Mountain Lion developer preview its pretty impressive but many apps still do not support it (I’m looking at you Chrome!).

I hope sharing this info helps someone, if you have any suggestions or questions feel free to get in touch via twitter

Published: 8 June 2012 Permalink

Commenting is closed for this article.