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(Archived) Help debugging really bad font problems/bugs

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I'm having horrible formatting problems between my Windows (3.5) client and my iPad client. I've adopted Ariel 10 as my default font on the basis that it looks about the right size on my desktop screen and have been creating a few notes in the desktop client but, when I looked at them yesterday on my iPad, .... Wow!!!

Take 3 notes, all of which I went back and checked in the WIndows client and it says that all the text really is 10 point Ariel and that's how it looks on the PC. Well, on the iPad one of the notes looks just as I expect it, uniform decent sized text. For another of the notes all the text is really tiny. For the third note the text seems to randomly jump from a decent looking size up to overly large and back down to normal again. Basically, there's something really wrong here.

What's the best way forward to debug this? My first thought would be to look at the raw text of the notes (complete with html markup) to see if I can see if bad stuff has crept into the source files. I'm also willing to share some of these bad notes with EN if it helps although I'll need to redact some stuff first (user IDs and software serial numbers).

- Julian

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When you set the "default font" in our Windows client, that specifies what font should be used to display text on Windows in cases where the note content itself doesn't specify a font. I.e. this is a preference that just affects how notes look on Windows.

If you clip something from the web, or paste it from a rich application like Word, then that text may come with explicit font settings. The HTML from these other sources may display differently on the iPad's embedded WebKit note view.

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Thanks Dave. None of my text is clipped from the web but maybe some spurious formatting got in there somehow.

I have a piece of text in a note now that, on the Windows 3.5 client, looks like (and says according to the formatting toolbar that it it):

As I say, this all looks correct on the Windows client but when I look at it on the iPad it ends up looking something like:

So the section title that actually renders bigger than 10 point in the Windows client (e.g. the 14 point) is rendered smaller than 10 point on the iPad whereas some 10 point text (the sub-section title) also looks wrong, but wrong in a different way, and some (the stuff in the bullet list) looks right. I suppose it's possible that some stray formatting got in there but this isn't clipped content, this is all stuff that I entered myself and it's a mess.

Even if it is stray formatting then couldn't the Windows client at least be made to render it the same way as the mobile devices (I believe that WebKit is used by more than just the iPhone and iPad)?

Frankly I'm totally blown away by how awful it is to create half-decent notes in Evernote, even as simple as just having section titles in different font sizes. It feels less like creating simple notes in a basic word processor and more like doing software development for an embedded controller. I'm really not kidding. I'm sitting here at my PC right now with my iPad next to me. I create a note on my PC, I then force synchronisation with my iPad and look at it on the iPad. I then identify errors on the iPad, go back to the desktop client, attempt to make changes, re-synchronise the note to the iPad, and continue this cycle until I get the note looking the same on the iPad and the PC.

This is just crazy. Even though the product is called EverNote, it seems a pretty disfunctional note taker to me and it would be far more accurate if you renamed it EverWebClipper because that really seems to be where the focus is going at the expense of being able to conveniently and reliably create any notes beyond the simplest of totally plain text notes.

I now have some notes, one of which is very complicated and took me the best part of a day to create (it includes a 92 x 7 table of data) that is a total mess as far as viewing on the iPad is concerned. What is the best way to fix this?

Is the message I should be taking from this that, if I want to make sure that notes look sort of the same in Windows vs iPad (or other mobile device) then I should try to make sure that I never use the default font but go over every piece of text in my notes to make sure that I've explicitly set some sort of formatting on them?

If I do a "Select all" on a note and set everything to 8-point font size will that destroy all embedded font-size formatting so that at least I can then work my way through the entire note a piece at a time to explicitly set the font sizes up from the 8-point to what I really want them to be so that it will then render consistently on both Windows and the iPad (and iPhone)?

Then all I need to do is go and do the same to all my 110 other notes in Evernote :D

- Julian

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OK, I've done some more research here and I'm getting really worried that this is going to kill the whole Evernote concept for me. I think I know what's going on, and I accept that it's not really a bug, but to me it seems a really huge usability issue.

Here's what I just did. I created an absolutely fresh note and typed straight into it at the keyboard. No cut and paste from anywhere else so no spurious formatting to confuse me. Here's what I typed (all with font type left on the default, which is Arial for me):

This looked as expected on my PC, i.e. each line of text got gradually bigger and then smaller again. I then synced it to my iPad and again it looked sort of as expected, i.e. each line of text got gradually bigger and then smaller again, but (and for me it's a huge but).... how on earth do a create a note that looks sensible/readable on both my PC and my iPad?

The issue here seems to be that to get what for my eyes is a sensible text size, i.e. with a lower case "o" being about 1.5mm tall, this translates to formatting the text as 18 point on my iPad but, when that is displayed in Evernote on my main PC, it looks blown up to almost comical proportions and the correct font size on the PC client to get my 1.5mm high "o" (i.e. text at a sensible readable size) is 10 point text.

Since my EN usage is probably 70% PC and 30% iPad I don't consider the option of formatting all my notes in 18 point text to be viable (which would probably imply main section headings at something like 36 point text!) because it's going to look absurd on my PC.

An alternative might be to format at 10 point so that it looks sensible on my PC and when I need to read it on my iPad I use the zoom function to make it readable but the problem with that is that I try to format my notes so that they reflow properly on different sized screens (and html formatting is very sympathetic to this style of formatting) but if I am forced to use the zoom function to view any of my notes on the iPad then that breaks the reflow formatting and I will be forced to pan vertically and horizontally around all my notes, even the really simple ones like a shopping or todo list.

Are these really the choices that I'm left with or am I missing something somewhere? Is there no way to set some sort of font size calibration on the mobile clients so that I could set a 10-point font to display on my iPad screen at about the same size that it does on the screen of my desktop PC?

- Julian

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From my previous post, have I understood correctly and are these the only choices open to me at the moment?

1) Format the notes using sensible sized fonts for my PC which means that they're so small on the iPad that I need to zoom in to read anything therefore breaking reflow formatting and meaning I need to pan around on any note I view, or

2) Format the notes using sensible sized fonts for my iPad which means that when I view them in the PC client the fonts are enlarged to almost comical proportions?

I'm guessing the above is the case but I'm really hoping that I'm wrong.

If things are as I think then maybe a solution would be to have a font-display-scaling setting in the mobile clients so that if I find the ideal readable font size to be 10-point on my PC and 18-point on my iPad then I could set the font display scaling on my iPad to 1.8 and the iPad client would do an on-the-fly convertion of any inline formatting within a device solely for the purposes of local display but would not alter the basic font settings in the note so that it still looks as expected on the PC and other EN clients.

If/when RTF editing comes to the mobile clients then selecting a piece of text and formatting it as 10-point (for instance) on a mobile device would write a (or whatever the correct html directive is) into the note but, when it was displayed back to the user on the device, the font display scaling would be applied so that the note text gets passed to the WebKit (or other local rendering engine) with that tag dynamically rewritten as .

I really would appreciate some sort of comment on this, or advice on something I'm misunderstanding or a way to get round the issue, because right now this has pretty much curtailed my use of Evernote.

- Julian

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