Petar Maymounkov

Color of the circuit

Thu, Nov 28, 2013

After a few iterations, over the course of the past year or so, I've modified a few fonts for purposes of good programming disposition. Visual ambiance has a lot to do with how we personify software. Fonts are right in the center of it all.

Most professional monospace fonts, as well known, are unaware of subtle requirements that modern programming patterns advise. Some rules are practically written in stone. For instance, dashes and inequality signs have to align vertivally for their high frequency presence in pointer dereferencing, send/receive communications, and so on. Others are trying to gauge broader tastes. The exclamation point, for example — also unusually common in programming in constrast to plain text — might benefit from more weight considering its all-or-nothing importance in code and its generally malnourished look.

Should one be willing to ponder, this list of considerations can get quite long. I've modified a few brilliantly-made professional fonts to meet the code. For reasons of expediency, in this fluid process of converging to a look, working with vector fonts has shown impractical for the diletante fontographer.

Old school bitmap font regained stage with me. Besides being simple to modify both technically and artisitically, due to the higher level of visual forgiveness of fat pixels, they have turned out more calming to my eyes than their sub-perfectly smooth vector kins.

I find the variety of quality bitmap fonts found in the code base fascinating. Perhaps unbeknownst to you, these fonts have fairly comprehensive coverage and a myriad of alternatives for common letters. Swapping glyphs for variants can go a long way.

A majority of my longest-surviving programming font, derviving from 7x14.bdf, is randomly sampled here:

Monospace fonts are not the norm for programming. Is it nurture or nature, I am not sure. Some tasks I prefer to do within the variable-width paradigm of the Plan9 UI approach.