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The tech behind 23 and UHD

Ben Schwenk
UI/UX Design

There is a lot to love about UltraEdit v23. One look at the application and its new interface is all that's needed to see that quite a bit of thought and effort has been put into modernizing and beautifying the UI. That said, there is one new feature to v23 that is less obvious but equally as important: Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) display support.

UHD represents a spectrum of increased display resolutions which feature a higher pixel density than standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) formats. These pixel-rich displays accommodate higher quality graphics, less fuzzy graphical edges and borders, more color information, and ultimately a more beautiful and sharper display on your screen.

For years, our computer monitors all used generally the same pixel density – that is, they all used the same amount of pixels relative to the physical size of the display. This meant that designers and developers could create computer graphics at a certain pixel density (usually around 72 pixels per inch, or PPI) and trust that they would look great across an array of displays.

However, as UHD hardware and displays have become more ubiquitous with consumer grade computing systems, those images that we created for lower PPI displays can no longer be trusted to look fine. UHD displays cram more pixels into less space, causing those 72 PPI graphics to now look fuzzy or distorted on a screen that shows, say, 140 PPI. Of course, the operating system and/or graphics card can mitigate this somewhat by automatically scaling graphics up, but not without quality loss. (Think of the distortion you see when printing out a small photo or graphic at a larger size.) Software can only go so far. Ultimately, the graphics themselves must be updated to support the greater pixel density.

Historically, Windows itself hasn't been great at handling UHD displays, but Windows 10 makes it incredibly easy to hook up UHD displays and roll with crisp, sharp, and beautiful graphics with minimal settings adjustments. The problem, however, is that not all third party software and applications include the great UHD support that Windows 10 boasts.

That's why the new support for UHD in UltraEdit v23 is such a big deal. While UHD monitors aren't yet the norm on the Windows side, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a new laptop without a UHD screen. As the industry begins moving more quickly towards UHD, UltraEdit has already been refactored with the underlying tech necessary to accommodate these more powerful displays.

Those of you who have been using UHD screens know that UltraEdit v23 looks incredibly sharper as compared to previous versions. That's because UltraEdit v23 now includes image resources at two times the standard size. When UltraEdit detects that it is displayed on a UHD screen, it dynamically swaps in the larger image so that icons don't suffer any quality loss at a higher pixel density, affording a UI and workspace that is as sharp and clear as everything else on Windows 10. UltraEdit will also automatically internally recalculate font sizes, line heights, and various other elements in the UI to the point that if you switch between HD and UHD displays, you won't see any difference in the application's appearance.

Beyond this, the new icon set in v23 lends itself to higher compatibility on UHD displays. With rich, solid colors and thick borders, the icons provide a crisp look and feel without detail loss at a higher PPI, which is not uncommon of skeuomorphic icons widely used in the previous decade. Artistically and conceptually, the new icons do a better job of conveying their meaning and getting back to standard and best practice, thus improving usability overall.

The sum of these internal improvements is a world-class modern editor that not only acts the part, but looks the part as well.

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