Hinting around: text demystified

29th October 2015 in London at Business Design Centre

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What is text? The answer of those who know, and like 90s music, is most likely "baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more". It is often said that text is the most difficult part of a graphics toolkit, and that is for good reasons. In this talk you will learnthe skills that will enable you to understand text, and bend this mysterious creature to your will.

Just think of what you do to show some text in a TextView. Simple enough, isn’t it? Well, as it turns out, under the hood doing text is harder than it looks. Way, way harder.

From the typography theory behind the fonts system, to the intricacies of supporting Unicode bidirectional text runs, to the typesetting itself, that would be enough to drive someone crazy. And there's still nothing being drawn on screen, with that alone!

Next you'll need to have a text rendering engine that takes care of loading the fonts, laying out the glyphs, taking care of hinting too, and then actually draw them somewhere (let alone doing all this in a performant way).

Then, and only then, you will see your one-line-of-Java "Hello World" showing up on your device.

Still here? Good, then prepare for a journey that will take you through the history, implementation and pain of dealing with text. Behold the amazing powers you’ll acquire, enabling you to tame all kinds of text you’ll see on Android.


Hinting around: text demystified

Sebastiano Poggi

Sebastiano Poggi is an Android Software Craftsman at Novoda in London. A self-taught and strong OSS believer who loves beautiful and simple UX and UI, where “less is more”, Sebastiano spends a big chunk of his spare time reading and writing about Android development. He also creates and maintains some FOSS apps and libraries, that span from the fun, smaller projects to the more serious (and, perhaps, useful) work. Sebastiano worked for some time in AKQA as a Senior Software Engineer. Before moving to London, he also worked at i’m Spa (an Italian smartwatch startup) for two years, playing with the Android platform and handling their Developer Relations. He’s been toying with the Android SDK since 2010.

Eugenio Marletti

Self-taught in everything that matters. Former freelancer in Italy as a programmer, designer, and videomaker. After experimenting with desktop, frontend and backend development, his fate was sealed when he fell in a love/hate relationship with the green droid in 2011. Following many adventures, in 2014 he ventured into the heart of Berlin and decided to join Clue, where he's currently busy exercising his powers as an Android Alchemist. Always looking for novel ways to push the boundaries of what's possible with the Android framework.