Apple Patent for Resolution Independent User Interface

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Macsiumumnews reports on a recently published patent application for "Resolution Independent User Interface Design". Resolution Independence has been described by Apple as a feature for the upcoming version of Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). The reasoning is described:

    According to the patent application, traditional user interface designs are created for specific resolutions. In order to support arbitrary resolutions, images have to be up or down-scaled which may introduce blurring or artifacting. They propose a method to describe the user interface objects in a "procedural" and resolution independent manner.
  2. OdduWon macrumors 6502a


    Jul 4, 2006
    wow could have much to do with the new ipods and isight enabled cimema displays:D
  3. Xavier macrumors 68020

    Mar 23, 2006
    Was actually just thinking of this today, because my 15 inch screen is soo small. What would happen when I upgrade to the next generation of 50" screens?
  4. koobcamuk macrumors 68040


    Oct 23, 2006
    I just worry things are going to get too small for us to read - unless we have 50" screens to compensate. One friend already commented on how things on my MacBook feel smaller and higher res compared to his iBook.

    Furthermore, I think we will see a lot more ctrl + Zooming going on in the future - but an automated style - that didn't pixelate or break up (if you understand this). i.e. I hope it kind of focuses. Like spaces, but all in one place. Just an idea. Who knows. I could be talking ass.
  5. trudd macrumors regular


    May 27, 2004
    Makes me wonder how hardware intensive that would be. Would it be more CPU or GPU based? If its GPU based, it makes me glad I bought the MBP...
  6. Aldyn macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2006

    i use the zooming feature all the time when laying in bed and using my imac from a distance.
  7. CTYankee macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2002
    as a photographer this concerns me. Right now I have control of how people see the images on line for proofing or porfolio. I sure don't want them to look bad because of some automatic resolution changes. Just a small change in resolution can often make a good image look not so good.
  8. aspro macrumors 6502

    Apr 29, 2005
    Hobart, Australia
    This will be a great improvement, especially in a few years down the track my Macbook screen is about the limit I would like.
  9. Mudbug Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    god help all of us professional designers out there trying to explain resolution to clients... I hope this makes sense when/if it comes to see the light of day.
  10. technocoy macrumors 6502a


    Sep 4, 2002
    Raleigh, NC

    this is cool, but it's going to be t-totall HELL for us who do web design... dear god, it's already hard enough trying to explain web resolutions to clients as it is...


    oh well.
  11. displaced macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2003
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    That's exactly what a resolution-independent GUI is intended to address!

    As resolutions increase, there's more pixels on-screen, so GUI elements of a fixed number of pixels per physical inch become smaller (the problem you're describing, and how OS X's GUI currently operates).

    A resolution-independent GUI has the ability to cleanly re-scale or dynamically recreate GUI elements to compensate. As resolution increases, the number of pixels used to draw each GUI element increases so that elements have the same relative size between resolutions. Obviously, at higher resolutions they'll look much crisper, since there's more pixels available to describe them.

    Think of it as being similar to a game like Doom 3. As you crank up the resolution, the area you can see doesn't increase so that individual elements are smaller. Rather, the clarity with which characters and environments increases.
  12. Max Payne macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2006
    Brisbane, Australia
  13. geerlingguy macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2003
    The Midwest, USA
    It seems this will apply to the user interface, but not necessarily things like Safari web rendering or things like that. But how will buttons and web forms be handled? We'll see.

    This is probably something Apple's been working on for at least a few years, so I'm sure they will take into account all the potential problems web designers and the like could have.

    Count me as one for 'good.' I would rather not have to squint to find the scroll bars and other buttons in the user interface when I'm using a 20"+ display with huge resolutions.
  14. koobcamuk macrumors 68040


    Oct 23, 2006
    I thought I understood - but I don't think I do.
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No this is going to be great. Currently web designer do things like say and image is 400x200 pixels. This was always stupid. Now we will be able to say 4 inches by 2 inches and then if we supply a large file the result looks good or a small file the result looks worse

    Basically what they are talking about is making the user interface "postscript-like" where you send a command to draw a line and let the system rasterize it. OK maybe it is OpenGL like, but either way, executable instructions to draw raster then a pre-drawn raster.

    This change is at the GUI library level, programmers will see this directly. end users, photographers, web surfers and so on will only see the effect - non-pixelated zooms.

    Another case of "technology going backwards". back in the "old days" before RAM was cheap graphic terminals only accepted vector drawing commands. The CRT did not scan it actually moved the beam to trace out each line. It would draw characters like a pen plotter. This was when a megabyte of RAM cost as much as an apartment building. Displays were very clear and scalable in the 60's with not a chance of pixels showing, because there were no pixels. What other 60's tech can they bring back? Multi-core processors? Oh wait..
  16. CubeHacker macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    Currently, our UI is pixel based. Look at the "down" arrow on your scroll bar to the right. Its a 10x10 pixel box with an arrow in it. Because its pixel based, when the DPI of your monitor increases (resolution/size), those pixels become very very small, making it difficult to see and difficult to click on. If you wanted to increase its size, you would get a huge pixelated square that looks horrible.

    A resolution independent UI is vector based, not pixel based. That 10x10 box of pixels is now a mathematical formula for drawing a square. As a vector shape, it can be enlarged or shrunken to any size without distortion, kinda like how modern fonts on the computer work. Thus, if the dpi of your display makes things look to small, you can now increase the size of the UI without making things look ugly.
  17. D0ct0rteeth macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2002
    Franklin, TN
    Obviously it isnt an issue yet, but I imagine we will keep developing for the common denominatior and the early adopters are going to be just a fringe group and they will continue seeing whatever they see.

    Then as the technology evolves then it will continue to just go that way... Maybe in 2-3 years we are building 150DPI images... or maybe flash becomes a tool to allow images to be dynamically scaled - but I will absolutely say that there wont be a time where mass design firms are designing 3 or 4 sites for multiple resolutions. There will be sites built for the common denominator/target market until technology builds tools to make this development complete by making web design/development able to address this fully.
  18. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    They can't patent this!

    Vectorized interfaces have been around a while, and Windows 95 had the same exact implementation of UI scaling that they're talking about now (without the bitmapping). WTF Apple?

    Yes, it even had it with the slider that you'd move to scale the DPI of the GUI up. IIRC, I remembered that and suggested it as a simple way to make aqua scalable (yay!)

    Still, they can't patent that! Prior art omg.
  19. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Does this mean for any websites I do in the future, I would be better off specifying width in CM or IN instead of PX?
  20. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I never remember Windows 95 having scaling. Heck, 98, 2k, me, and XP don't either AFAIK. What can be done, is to enlarge the elements. It's still not completely res independant though, just small/med/large.
  21. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Read their application. It's a particular implementation of a general idea.

  22. Stella macrumors 604


    Apr 21, 2003
    Another example of stupid patents.

    Abuse of.

    Why software should not be patentable ( spelling ).

    Nokia are adding similar to their phones.
  23. shawnce macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2004
    Say you have a line 1 inch long that is 1/72 of an inch thick. On Mac OS X (and Mac OS before it) that one inch line would be defined as 72 points long and one point thick since Mac OS X defines it point space (what you draw in) as having 72 points per inch.

    Currently Mac OS X defines that one point maps to one pixel on a display.

    So if you had a display that had 72 pixels per inch (physical pixels crammed into one inch of length along the display's surface) then a 72 point long line would appear to be 1 inch long on that display. Now if you had a display with 144 pixels per inch then a 72 point long line would appear to be 1/2 inch long on that display and on a 288 pixel per inch display it would appear to be 1/4 inch long.

    So as you get displays that can cram more and more pixels per inch your on screen drawing will appear to be physically smaller and smaller unless you adjust the scale of what you are drawing. In other words as the fidelity of displays approaches that of common laser printers you need to adjust what you draw to use more pixels so it maintains the same appearance in terms of physical dimensions.

    This is what resolution independent UI is about... Mac OS X in the near future will allow you to (or possibly automatically) set the scale factor for the visual environment to match the physical size of pixels of your display.

    For example if you had a 144 pixel per inch display you would ideally set the scaling factor to 2x. That would mean a 72 point long line (aka 1 inch long line) that is 1 point tall would be displayed on your screen using a rectangle that is 144 pixels long (72 x 2) and 2 pixels tall (1 x 2). In other words that 1 inch long line would appear as 1 inch long on your display instead of just a half inch long and it would be displayed using twice as many pixels... which means you have a higher fidelity image.

    It should be noted that since day one Mac OS X has utilized a resolution independent drawing environment (Quartz / Quartz2D) and that is how what you see on screen is appropriately scaled when you print it out on say a 600+ DPI printer without out much of a through by a programmer (at least for those using modern APIs based on Quartz or using Quartz directly). What Apple is currently doing is starting to utilizing this existing capability to scale what is drawn to the screen since screens are improving in DPI.
  24. shawnce macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2004
  25. D34thPwny macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2006
    Sacramento, CA, in between semesters.

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