If you are using the Google Chrome browser on a Windows system, you may have noticed that the program's font rendering is not the best on some web pages.
If you take the Dart web page for example, you will notice that several words or entire text passages render in a weird way.
This can be observed especially when you check out the download links displayed on the page, as they appear cut off somehow (see the screenshots below for examples).
To a lesser degree, it is also visible elsewhere on the page as the two sample screenshots highlight below.
The first has been taken with a default version of Chrome, the second with DirectWrite enabled in the browser.
Chrome's rendering is fine when it comes to safe fonts such as Arial, Verdana or Tahoma but when it has to render Google Web Fonts for example, it somehow fails to do so properly.
It is not a new issue by any stretch of the imagination, as it dates back as early as 2011.
The main issue here is that Chrome uses Windows GDI to render fonts while most modern web browsers that run on Windows use DirectWrite instead.
The Chrome development team has integrated full support for DirectWrite into Chrome Beta -- and Dev and Canary as well -- but have not enabled it by default.
Update: DirectWrite is enabled by default now. Google has removed the flag from Chrome 52 which means that the browser will use DirectWrite exclusively for font rendering on Windows.
It is currently available as a flag that you need to enable to activate it.
Let me show you how this can be done. Note that this only works if you use Chrome 35 or newer on Windows.
- Type or paste chrome://flags into the browser's addressbar and hit enter.
- Hit F3 and type directwrite. Chrome should jump to the Enable DirectWrite experiment right away.
- Click on the enable link to activate it.
- A relaunch now button appears that you need to click on to restart the browser.
Once the browser has been restarted, Chrome will use DirectWrite on Windows to render fonts.
Enable DirectWrite Windows
Enables the use of experimental DirectWrite font rendering system.
You can turn the feature off at any time by following the same steps above. The only different is that you need to click on disable instead of enable this time to do so.
As it stands, DirectWrite will make its way to the stable version of Chrome and when it does, it will be enabled by default eventually. Google has not published any date or Chrome version when this is going to happen, but it is near certain that it will happen soon.
Update: The feature landed in Chrome 37 and is enabled by default in that browser and all future versions of Chrome.