sIFR 2.0b: Come Kick the Tires

A beta version of Scalable Inman Flash Replacement 2.0 is now available. Mike Davidson explains what’s new in sIFR 2.0b: Come Kick the Tires. I haven’t had a reason to take a really close look at Flash Replacement before, but this is looking pretty good.

I only have a couple of concerns. One is that replaced text doesn’t scale with the rest of the page when the user increases text size. I can’t see a way around that. I also don’t believe this to be a huge problem if only headlines are replaced, and they are made reasonably large. Another concern is the inability It is indeed possible to select and copy all text, including headings, from a page. Thanks for pointing that out, Mike. Not that it’s something I do a lot. Accessibility is great if JavaScript is off since no replacement takes place.

According to Mike’s notes the JavaScript used will work even if the document is served as application/xhtml+xml, which is very interesting, since I do just that on a few sites. I haven’t had the time to test it yet though.

Posted on September 13, 2004 in CSS, Quicklinks, Web General


  1. September 13, 2004 by caffènero

    Is it me or the way flash anti-aliases text is …not optimal (I’d say “horrible” but let’s be nice)?

    It’s blurry, not as crisp as regular browser text (I’m using both Linux/Freetype and WinXP/Cleartype on an LCD), even text rendered in PS and saved as an image (the old way) is crispier. Not to mention that wheel-scrolling stops when the cursor hovers the flash text… Very annoying.

    Not for me, definitely. Anyway, thumbs up for Mike&C efforts.

  2. September 13, 2004 by Shane Graber

    This doesn’t look all that bad to me:



  3. September 13, 2004 by caffènero

    We have different metrics, indeed:

    look closer (please copy & paste pic url in your address-bar. My crappy host doesn’t want hotlinking of pictures.)

    That IS blurry, imho. Very blurry if compared to the crispness of normal text (god bless subpixel smoothing and LCDs). But, again, this may or may not be an issue.

  4. September 13, 2004 by Roger (Author comment)

    I think it’s a bit blurry, too. To me the quality of text rendered by Flash is nowhere near Safari’s beautiful rendering of “regular HTML” text.

  5. 1: The text is selectable 2: The Flash text size does scale depending on your text zoom setting… just not on the fly. In other words, if you routinely surf the web with text zoom at 150%, the Flash text will be 150% size as well. I call this “lazy scaling”. 3: Flash’s anti-aliasing algorithm is quite good actually… better than XP ClearType but not, of course, as good as the anti-aliasing nirvana that is OS X.
  6. September 13, 2004 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)


    1. Yep, text is selectable, but not by doing a “select all”. Or is it? Well, what do you know. It is. I just assumed it wasn’t since it isn’t highlighted. Great!

    2. Ah. Nice touch. That’s pretty acceptable I’d say.

    3. Right. It looks much better than standard Windows text.

    Well… seems my concerns are all taken care of then ;-)

  7. September 13, 2004 by caffènero

    Nope, Mike. No way. Even if we all know that “all that comes from M$ must stink” ;) Cleartype is, if properly tuned, light-years better than flash’s text-rendering.

    But hey, that is not your fault.

  8. I don’t know caffenero, I hate ClearType with a passion. It looks a bit better on LCDs than CRTs, but in both cases it’s inferior to my eyes. OS X uses Adobe-based quartz anti-aliasing which ensures that Postscript outlines are rendered with the utmost attention to detail, but ClearType seems more like a hack to me. It almost looks as if the font bitmap is being used but only the edge are smoothed. Flash, on the other hand, has pretty nice anti-aliasing.

  9. Might I also mention that ClearType is only available to XP users and in some cases, it is off by default. How many newbies even know to turn that setting on?

    I personally turned it off because it blurs my display, but your mileage may of course vary.

  10. September 13, 2004 by caffènero

    Sure, Mike (sorry Roger for the chit-chat), I’m not saying CT is better than OSX, and it’s true that it’s really good only on LCDs. And yes, M$ leaves that de-activated by default (huh?), so this may be an issue for Joe User.

    However, having seen all four kinds of AA, this is my top-four: 1. OSX/Quartz on par with Linux/freetype (the penguin has made giant steps in the eye-candy department) 2. WinXP/Cleartype 3. Flash (it’s too blurry!!)

    But, as always, our mileage DO varies ;) So, let’s drop this and give our pioneers of web-typography their due credit!


  11. Something I have to bring up regarding using this technique that really puts me off:

    When viewed with Firefox running the adblock extension with Obj-Tags enabled (the not so little tab that appears next to items you might want to block) all the headings suddenly display the tag, usually over the top of the beginning of the next paragraph.

    This really breaks up the flow of a site and conflicts with what a visitor would be used to, ie. seemingly normal text with adblock tags.

    This is a big enough flaw for me to dismiss using sIFR myself.

  12. Steve,

    Same problem here. Sent a new design for review over to a friend on FF/Mac… only for him to send me back a screen shot with little “AdBlock” tabs everywhere and not a single pretty headline anywhere to be found :|

    I won’t be able to use sIFR until I can figure out a way around this issue. In a recent thread on my site about Firefox extensions… 90% of respondent’s had AdBlock installed. Doh!

    See for yourself

  13. January 9, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    For anyone holding back on using sIFR because of the problems with AdBlock: the sIFR team is working on a fix for that, as noted in Predictions and hopes for 2005.

  14. Ah. Slickness.

    Thx Roger.

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