Web Typography Hack: sIFR

Although I'm no fan of MacromediaAdobe Flash, I have to admit the sIFR JavaScript / Flash typography hack is remarkably well thought out and quite effective. Here's a small GIF movie of it in action:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/12/web-typography-hack-sifr.html


  1. The text is fully selectable… either with drag select or select all. Visual feedback can be a little weird but it works just fine.

  2. The anti-aliasing isn’t as good as OS X, but it’s better than Windows in my opinion. Hell, most Windows machines don’t anti-alias at all. And by the way, Flash 8 has a new anti-aliasing algorithm which improves things significantly.

I think the technique is good, but has some flaws:

  1. You can’t select text properly.

  2. The anti-aliasing used is rubbish. The text looks blurred in places. This is a big step backwards - I notice the bad AA before I notice the nice font.

Macromedia could fix Flash so it renders text better - perhaps using the platform’s own text rendering - though perhaps Flash allows some funky things with text which aren’t normally available with the native renderer.

The anti-aliasing used is rubbish

I had forgotten about this, but you’re right. I don’t mind it too much on the larger headline fonts, but it’s one reason why smallish Flash text was always so painful to read.

Why does Flash have such hideous anti-aliasing? Isn’t AA kind of a known science by now?

I clicked that link, and now I can’t stop obsessing over the hideous anti-aliasing on the replaced fonts.

I didn’t notice it on the large 24+ point headlines in the sample (eg, the GIF movie I made). But it’s driving me nuts on Shaun Inman’s site, where it is used all over the place for relatively small text.

gg Flash. That is bleed-from-the-eyes material there. It looks WAY better with Flash disabled. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.

Pretty useless hack, IMHO.

From that website:

"Those who have JavaScript turned on but the required version of the Flash plug-in turned off will see neither the original h1 or the styled-text of the replaced movie. "

Well what the hell is the point then?!? I like JS and don’t like Flash.

The anti-aliasing makes me feel drunk…er;)

You gotta give props to Shaun Inman (the I in sIFR). He’s the original developer of IFR, which was the real original progenitor to sIFR.