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Resolution independence in Leopard confirmed by Apple


Apple Computer's next-generation Mac OS X Leopard operating system will indeed make use of resolution independence, the company confirmed in a posting to its developer website.

The technology, which has been lingering beneath the surface of Mac OS X since early betas of Mac OS X Tiger, essentially breaks the software assumption that all display output is to be rendered at 72 dots per inch (DPI).

"The old assumption that displays are 72dpi has been rendered obsolete by advances in display technology," Apple said in an overview of Leopard posted to its Developer Connection website. "Macs now ship with displays that sport displays with native resolutions of 100dpi or better."

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said the number of pixels per inch will continue to increase dramatically over the next few years, making displays crisper and smoother.

"But it also means that interfaces that are pixel-based will shrink to the point of being unusable," Apple said. "The solution is to remove the 72dpi assumption that has been the norm. In Leopard, the system, including the Carbon and Cocoa frameworks, will be able to draw user interface elements using a scale factor."

The technology will allow the Mac OS X user interface to maintain the same physical size while gaining resolution and crispness from high dpi displays.

"The introduction of resolution independence may mean that there is work that you’ll need to do in order to make your application look as good as possible," the Mac maker told its developers. "For modern Cocoa and Carbon applications, most of the work will center around raster-based resources. For older applications that use QuickDraw, more work will be required to replace QuickDraw-based calls with Quartz ones."

Apple's intention to support resolution independence with Mac OS X was first detailed in an Aug. 2004 AppleInsider report. Following the release of Leopard Preview in Aug. of this year, bloggers discovered that the feature would be made more accessible to developers working with Leopard.

The Quartz-driven technology will allow developers to author applications that offer users the choice of viewing more detail (more pixels per point, but fewer points on the screen) or a larger user interface (fewer pixels per point but more points on the screen) without altering the resolution of the computer's display.