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Adobe Releases New Openly Licensed Coding Font 136

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the since-when-was-adobe-this-cool dept.
tqft writes "From the sourceforge page: 'Source Sans is a set of monospaced OpenType fonts that have been designed to work well coding environments. This family of fonts is a complementary design to the Source Sans family.' License: Open Font License 1.1 (OFL 1.1) (both FSF and DFSG free). Hope to see it Debian (& other) repositories soon." The example text doesn't really look too much better than Inconsolata. But, hey, who can complain about more liberally licensed fonts?
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Adobe Releases New Openly Licensed Coding Font

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  • Actually accepted submission.

    Fonts annoy me. So many licences, variability and availability and differences machine to machine. Like standards I suppose so many to choose from and non completely compatible.

    • Fonts are a huge issue because we need them to, you know, communicate. The license you are looking for is "completely free to use and modify". That way you know that not only are you able to use it, but the font is going to be maintained and stick around, making life easier for everybody.

      The typography landscape is littered with quality fonts that nobody uses because they are not free to maintain.

    • Re:That was a shock (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:22PM (#41456733)

      Fonts annoy me. So many licences, variability and availability and differences machine to machine. Like standards I suppose so many to choose from and non completely compatible.

      Well, the standard is pretty much the Microsoft-Apple TrueType (designed as a competing standard to Adobe PostScript fonts). (Yes, Microsoft and Apple worked on TrueType together, during the 90s when they were fierce enemies). Even then it's not a simple spec because it's actually quite difficult to lay out text nicely.

      One of the jobs of a typesetter is to actually arrange the page so the text flows properly, and it's more of an art than a science. It's why TrueType implements a virtual machine to help with the automatic arrangement of characters.

      It's also why designing a font is damn hard - creating the character shapes is the easiest part, but doing the necessary back end work to ensure it looks pleasant to the eye no matter the word/letter combinations is difficult (hence the virtual machine). And then there's Unicode, so you have to way more shapes to contend with (luckily a lot of them get by with monospace).

      Finally, the licenses reflect the fact that fonts are a tool - so there's a lot of complexity in them. First, printing them out means having to send the font over at times (if it's not rasterized locally), so you need to enable translation of the font to the printer's natively language. Then you need to consider that electronic documents may need to embed fonts in them to look the same on every computer, even the ones without the font, but that embedding is now distribution of the font.

      The license is complex purely because copyright law doesn't cover it terribly well. Embedding is a form of distribution and derivative work. Printing can mean creating a derivative work so the printer can rasterize it. Then there may be distribution if you want to send it to a printing press so they need the font as well...

      As for raster fonts - they're great, but when you're dealing with high res screens, they start to show their chunkiness. I just wish some of the nice raster fonts were availble as TrueType so they can scale up nicely and be razor sharp on high res "retina" screens.

      • by PRMan (959735)

        I just wish some of the nice raster fonts were availble as TrueType so they can scale up nicely and be razor sharp on high res "retina" screens.

        Well, there's always the FontSubstitutes Registry entry in Windows: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes

      • Re:That was a shock (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:56PM (#41457241)

        One of the jobs of a typesetter is to actually arrange the page so the text flows properly, and it's more of an art than a science. It's why TrueType implements a virtual machine to help with the automatic arrangement of characters.

        That's kerning. TrueType solves this problem with a static kerning table.

        The virtual machine is for hinting - adjusting the outlines so that they still produce reasonable bitmaps at small point sizes. It has nothing to do with the flow of text.

      • by jrumney (197329)

        Well, the standard is pretty much the Microsoft-Apple TrueType (designed as a competing standard to Adobe PostScript fonts).

        The 90's called, and they want their vector font formats back. The modern standard is OpenType, which is a merger of Truetype and Adobe's Postscript formats with additional standardized features to handle complex layout as found in the Sanskrit derived scripts of South and South East Asia.

  • by rnturn (11092) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:51PM (#41456377)

    ... but is this really better than good ol' Courier?

    Personally, I find san-serif fonts a bit of a strain to read for long periods of time. For a while Lucida typewriter was fine but I keep switching back to Courier.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Courier FTW! I don't understand why you would ever want to use Consolas, or anything else.

      • Courier FTW! I don't understand why you would ever want to use Consolas, or anything else.

        Quality hinting maybe? No copyright problems maybe? Lots of weights maybe, for example, true bold?

        (Note: I haven't actually checked this font for quality hinting yet, and the comment about "in this world of retina displays" worries me, because Apple just punts on hinting. Which is offensive to the eye, and the reason that Apple has no choice but to offer stupidly high resolution displays, and even then the lower quality of nonhinted fonts is readily apparent to the eye. Notice it once, and you will never be

        • by zakkudo (2638939)
          Hinting looks like utter shit. The only way I can tell the difference between hinted fonts and when anti-aliasing is totally turned off is by the CPU usage. The ultra-visible pixels are an utter eyesore.
          • Apparently you have your eyes on backwards.

            • by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @06:12PM (#41457431)

              Let me be more specific. Think about a lower case m. We want each of the three vertical strokes to look exactly the same, even if antialiased. Your eye will really complain if this isn't the case, even on a high resolution display. (If not then don't worry about it, quality anything is not for you. You can save a lot of money on stereo equipement.) Hinting will adjust those three strokes to be equally separated in terms of pixel units, even if exact alignment to pixel boundaries is not possible. Then if you display the same font much larger, the strokes will be allowed to move to the exact positions defined by the artist. Hopefully, showing good taste. That's just the beginning of it, hinting a huge and subtle topic. Trying to pretend it doesn't matter, or actually lowers quality, does nothing but demonstrate ignorance.

        • by JDG1980 (2438906)

          Note: I haven't actually checked this font for quality hinting yet, and the comment about "in this world of retina displays" worries me, because Apple just punts on hinting.

          Hinting is a hack, required because of the inherent problems with rasterizing vector fonts at low resolutions. When you do this, something needs to give, since there simply aren't enough pixels to represent the image with good fidelity; it's basically trying to cram 20 pounds of information in a 10-pound bag. Increasing the DPI enough

    • by Dwedit (232252) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:01PM (#41456499) Homepage

      "Good ol' Courier" is that font where the 1 and lowercase L look almost the same. At least the uppercase i looks distinct in that font.
      I use Consolas now.

    • by slapout (93640)

      Courier just looks too much like a typewriter. I can't stare at it for long periods of time.

    • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:09PM (#41456567) Homepage
      8ut there are lots of reasons to switch away from Courier. 0ne obvious reason is that l made four easy-to-over1ook typos in this post alone.
      • by TheMMaster (527904) <hp@3.14tmm.cx minus pi> on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:17PM (#41456657)

        Which is why the 'allow websites to choose their own fonts, instead of my selection above' checkbox is unchecked on my Firefox :)

        Your typos were trivial to spot in Dejavu Sans Mono which, incidentally, is my favorite monospace font! :D

        • by ais523 (1172701)
          That post rendered in DejaVu Sans Mono for me too, because I don't have Courier New installed. (I missed the "over1ook", though, because although the 1 and l in DejaVu Sans Mono look very different, the 1 is passable as an l, even if the l isn't passable as a 1.)
    • by danlip (737336)

      Yes, much better than Courier. Of course there are many other fonts that are also much better than Courier, so I don't think this new font is really needed, but Courier majorly sucks, particularly the lowercase L, but overall just ugly.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      You're a dinosaur.

      ... but is this really better than good ol' Courier?

      I think it looks a bit nicer, but not sufficiently better than DejaVu Sans Mono or whatever the default monospaced font is on most Linux distributions. I probably won't bother to try it out.

      For the last six months I've been using a proportional font (DejaVu Sans, I think) in Eclipse. I'm not interested in going back. I lose out on within-line tabs, but it's easier to read. If I really need to see things in a fixed width font I can go into block editing mode (Shift-Alt-A).

      • by EvanED (569694)

        To be honest, I did download it and try it out -- and I much prefer DejaVu mono. I'm sure some of that is what I'm used to, but the Adobe font seems too light to me. In particular, I rather dislike the shorter ex-height (which the author points out as an advantage); I think that it looks even more stretched horizontally than many monospace fonts. It also renders weird for me, but that may just be my setup or something.

        • by Geeky (90998)

          Agreed, I installed it to see what it looks like and much prefer the narrower look of Consolas

    • by WillAdams (45638)

      The digital version is too spindly since it preserves the original digitization's having been a stroke font rather than outline and is drawn w/ too narrow a pen.

      It's also too clean and lacks the charm of the original (when it was typewritten using an IBM typewriter).

      I actually rather like Computer/Latin Modern Mono:

      http://mirrors.ctan.org/fonts/lm/fonts/opentype/public/lm/lmmonoltcond10-regular.otf [ctan.org]

      William

    • ... but is this really better than good ol' Courier?

      Personally, I find san-serif fonts a bit of a strain to read for long periods of time. For a while Lucida typewriter was fine but I keep switching back to Courier.

      I have tried the font for 5 minutes in gvim. Then I have tried to try it again.

      They went WAY overboard with the anti-aliasing: it's like the whole code is GLOWING. (It might be better on light background. But then, no sane coder uses a light background for coding, right?)

      Went back to the usual Courier New (and the occasional Andale Mono).

      So no, you are not a dinosaur. You simply have the rare condition: you're allergic to fads.

      • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @06:02PM (#41457325) Homepage

        But then, no sane coder uses a light background for coding, right?

        Actually a light background is (somewhat counter-intuitively) easier on the eyes, especially in dim lighting scenarios. The reason comes down to the optical properties of your eyes, which we can talk about in camera terms. A narrow aperture creates a broad depth of field, while a narrow aperture creates a very shallow depth of field. Bright scenery requires a narrow aperture and a broad depth of field, while dark scenery (is certainly moodier) requires a wide open aperture and a very shallow depth of field.

        That means that the brighter things are, the smaller your iris is, the more movement you can have in your head without your screen really going out of focus. Very dark setups with dark code (the stereotypical coding setup, it certainly looks cool) actually lead to more eye strain than a bright working environment and white background on your code. Eye strain is caused by constantly shifting focus, and that is alleviated by bright environs and bright code. Dark setups can require only a few millimeters of movement before your eyes are having to refocus. Bright setups can give you several centimeters of movement.

        • Tell that to my eyes.
        • by Chemisor (97276) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:50PM (#41458983)

          Eye strain is caused by constantly shifting focus

          That's one cause. Excessive illumination is another, as a person with sensitive eyes quickly discovers after staring at a white background for a few seconds and experiencing strain and tearing. Focus changes in particular, do not cause eyestrain in nearsighted people because we are used to blur and have acquired the ability to read text through a much wider depth of field.

          Whatever the cause, brightness sensitivity is much more common among the coders I know, and white backgrounds are the worst possible thing to look at. This used to be exacerbated by CRTs with 60Hz default refresh rate. Looking at the 60Hz white background of a default Windows installation causes eyestrain and tearing within thirty seconds, making any work impossible without deep squinting. We thus become proficient at switching the color scheme as quickly as possible. Windows 7, of course, makes this more difficult, as Aero does not support changing the theme background, so a classic theme must first be enabled.

        • by sowth (748135)

          So...you are saying staring at a light bulb all day is good for your eyes. Good to know.

        • by eulernet (1132389)

          You are right that a white background is good for the eyes, as long as it's not too lit. Reading on white background and CRTs was painful, and black background was better when LCD were not common.

          You are wrong about movement.
          Nowadays screens are large, so we need to move our eyes, but it's not efficient.
          There are muscles that we do not exercize.
          You can try the following exercize: try to rotate your eyes clockwise, then anticlockwise. You'll notice that it hurts !
          In fact, EMDR is a therapy based upon eyes mo

          • You are right that a white background is good for the eyes, as long as it's not too lit. Reading on white background and CRTs was painful, and black background was better when LCD were not common.

            But even on LCD, backlight still hurts - at least my eyes. I have no problems with paper and e-Ink - but when something flashes into my eyes, it becomes tiresome quite quickly.

            It's much less of a problem on laptops, where one can quickly adjust brightness with the dedicated buttons. On PCs it is rather cumbersome. Going with dark background + choosing programs which allow to minimize bright areas to reduce stress due to high contrast is the way I do it. (Sadly only few programs allow full controls over

            • by eulernet (1132389)

              May I suggest that you don't have enough ambient light ?

              Though I agree that I have the same problem on my HP touchpad, it's tiring for the eyes.

              • May I suggest that you don't have enough ambient light?

                I do have enough of ambient light. But no amount of ambient light can help for a several hour long coding session. It simply too much for the eyes. Basically, in my environment I can work for about the same length of time, as I can read a paper book. What IMO is pretty good result.

                For work on computer, my recipe remained steady for the decade plus: sufficient ambient light, dark background, light-gray text color - and large contrasty screen fonts.

        • You are sort of making lots of sense. But all you wrote IME is valid for books, paper and such. Based on my experience, things are starkly different when eyes have to deal with backlit screen.

          By going with dark background, I simply reduce amount of backlight flashing constantly into my eyes. And increase the effect of ambient lighting. So in a way my setup actually fits what you call "bright working environment."

          You can make a simple test with a flashlight: turn it on and look into it. If all you say

      • by fnj (64210)

        But then, no sane coder uses a light background for coding, right?

        I suppose when you take notes with pen on paper you use white ink on black paper, too? And when you print it out, the page comes out all smeared solid with black toner, with the white paper showing through only where the character strokes are? Strange indeed ...

    • by Drishmung (458368)

      ... but is this really better than good ol' Courier?

      Personally, I find san-serif fonts a bit of a strain to read for long periods of time. For a while Lucida typewriter was fine but I keep switching back to Courier.

      Yes. :) Well, for me. (De gustibus non disputandum est.) I find Courier to be ugly, and for coding in particular it has too many letter forms that are confusingly similar.

      Of the fixed width fonts I have installed, I'd rank them best to worst as:

      1. Inconsolata
      2. Consolas
      3. Source Code Pro
      4. Monaco
      5. Andale Mono
      6. Menlo
      7. Courier
      8. Courier New

      The only reason to even keep Courier around is because I get documents that specify it, or when I need to look like it was written on an old typewriter---though for that I'd be tempted to inst

      • I'd actually split the list across OSes/DEs - because of differences in font rendering engines, same fonts can look very different, and one that's good on one platform is meh or even awful or another. Consolas and Inconsolata are prime examples - the former is better on Windows, the latter is better on anything that uses FreeType.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Exactly. That's why I code in Verdana. It's much easier to read than monospaced fonts and a lot more fits on the screen at one time.
    • Check out the Bitstream family, much better than Courier or Lucida anything:

      http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/ttf-bitstream-vera/1.10/ [gnome.org]

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Do you honestly find Courier easier to read? It really doesn't do a very good job of differentiating similar characters.

      And I have to suspect you've subsumed the "sans fonts are harder to read" meme to the point where it effects your actual reading skills. Note that this idea, standard among web "experts", doesn't have much in the way of scientific basis [alexpoole.info].

  • by cgt (1976654) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @04:57PM (#41456469)
    We've already got plenty of good fonts for programming, and this doesn't actually look that good.
  • I've never found a better font than the windows raster fonts, that are used in cmd.exe by default. They are very well readable even in 6x8 size. I'm not aware about any font that could compete with that.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Personally I prefer the font used by PCs during text mode. Shame it's impossible to find a good recreation of those that doesn't lack tons of characters :/ Somebody should make a similar font and then try to include Unicode characters, not just the basic 256 character set.

    • Bitmap fonts have a sweet spot around 6x8 to 8x12, where their clarity and precision can definitely be more readable and pleasing than vector fonts.

      But once you get into smaller sizes, pixel fonts have to do weird things to their shapes (like the 4x6 windows bitmap font), whereas antialiasing and subpixel rendering can actually express more shape per pixel for greater readable density. And for larger fonts, curves sweep over many more pixels and it starts to look jaggy without handling vectors.

      • by rroman (2627559)
        I agree with the 6x8 and 8x12 sweet spot. It is true, that vector fonts can have more information per pixel than bitmap fonts, however, I didn't find any font smaller than 6x8 that is still readable. The 6x8 font seems to me that it is the smallest readable font possible. Correct me if I missed something.
        • by White Flame (1074973) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @07:29PM (#41458193)

          This is my coding font: screenshot [imgur.com] It's a 4pt display of TFA's font, which almost the same but slightly clearer at that size than Liberation Mono, which I was using before.

          It sometimes involves a bit of pixel hunting with digits before you get used to it, but I now use it for my standard daily coding environment. I like fitting EVERYTHING onscreen at once.

          • by rroman (2627559)
            Wow. This is very tiny, that I almost need magnifier to read that, however, it is pretty readable. Thank you!
        • It's possible if subpixel rendering is working correctly (only works on LCDs and you get the occasional LCD with a reversed subpixel order which screws it up). Subpixel rendering exploits the fact that the eye has far better resoloution for intensity than for color and each pixel on a LCD is made up of three sub-pixels each in a different position (as well as a different color) by treating each subpixel like a pixel therefore effectively tripling the horizontal resolution.

          Of course there is no theoretical r

    • I've never found a better font than the windows raster fonts, that are used in cmd.exe by default.

      Oh good, why don't you steal them then?

    • Now if only we could put the command prompt fullscreen again!

    • On Windows, you can just use that in most apps (though ironically not in VS) - it's called Terminal.

      On Linux, try Terminus font - apt-get install xfonts-terminus on Debian and Ubuntu. The bold version is very readable.

  • by MagicM (85041)

    Tried it. Hated it. Back to Bitstream Vera Sans Mono [dafont.com] 10pt in Zenburn.

    • by ais523 (1172701)
      You probably want to use DejaVu Sans Mono instead. It's basically the same font (and was based on it), but has much better Unicode support.
      • by MagicM (85041)

        Thank you. I had it (an older version) but wasn't using it for some reason.

  • How does this compare with Proggy Fonts [proggyfonts.com], particularly the slashed-zero bold punctuation variant? That font was superb for legibility at a small font size, great for an at-a-glance overview of code without having to scroll.
  • Install instructions send you to an Adobe web page which only mentions Windows and Mac. But it turned out that in Ubuntu 12.04, double-clicking the .ttf opens it in a font viewer with handy "Install" button.

    Comparing the "Regular" version to DejaVu Sans Mono, they look very similar, except the the DejaVu is a bit "fatter".
    The semi-bold version is bolder than the plain DejaVu, but also seems smaller.

    For the lazy, this is the .zip content:

    $ ls -Ago src/SourceCodePro_FontsOnly-1.009/
    total 1132
    -rwxr-xr-x 1

  • I compared the sample texts from the adobe blog [adobe.com] with text typed into the ubuntu font showcase [ubuntu.com] (set to ubuntu monospace).

    As far as I can tell, apart from the Adobe version of the small 'i' looking less attractive and their comma being more vertical, they are identical.

    The ubuntu font was introduced [canonical.com] last year.

    • > ubuntu mono and adobe source mono pro are almost identical ...

      I am guessing you have not really spent too much time carefully choosing the best font for you.

  • I'm not sold on this being my new programming and terminal font just yet, but they've at least provided multiple weights to try. Whatever I use in OS X (Inconsolata normally) turns out looking fat and heavy. The lighter variants of Source Sans are a nice change from that.

  • It's personal taste, but I have yet to find a better font than Envy Code R (http://damieng.com/blog/2008/05/26/envy-code-r-preview-7-coding-font-released) for source code editing.

  • No disrespect to the font designer, but as far as I can tell this is a long-solved solved problem.

    Perhaps I'm a font curmudgeon, however I've not found anything that bests Schumacher Clean for everyday console and editor use. I've used it for about 15 years, and I've can't think of a single thing I don't like about it, other than it's a pain to make it and other bitmap fonts available under Ubuntu. It's been a standard part of X distributions for ages and thus it's widely available.

    Schumacher Clean just m

  • Any time we can get high-quality hinted fonts for no charge is a good time.

  • I prefer ProFont [tobias-jung.de], but perhaps that's because I have a low-resolution screen (102ppi). I set up my console font for ProFont at size 8 (size 7 isn't quite clean enough for me). The "Source Code Pro" font has a taller line height at that size, and the dot on the 0 is pushed off to the left (and antialiased), which makes it harder to distinguish from O. ProFont gets around this by using a slash for 0, which is very obvious even at small sizes.

  • by fm6 (162816)

    Somebody finally figured out that continuous underlining makes source code hard to read!

    Aside from that, I'm not too impressed. Most features are comparable to other programmer-oriented fonts. But the zero is ugly.

  • Other than that, it is fine. But for me it is a deal breaker.

  • by ledow (319597)

    Opened it, stuck it into Eclipse's main C++ code font, size 10 (the size that Eclipse was using by default with the default font in Windows 7). Looked okay until I scrolled around a bit.

    A hex string with E in it looked atrocious and the left-bar of the E was at least three times thicker than any other line anywhere and just drew your eyes to the E.

    Not what you want when you need to transcribe some hexadecimal number correctly and have your eye drawn to the E all the time.

    Other than that... well, it's just

    • by Alan Shutko (5101)

      Seems to be very dependent on the font renderer. It looks great on OS X, but it definitely looks worse on Windows XP in Eclipse. (On my XP, the E and the digits are different heights. On OS X, they are the same height.)

      Hopefully some day my company will upgrade us.

  • If you have SAP installed, on Windows at least, it's worth giving "Arial Monospaced for SAP" a whirl - I found it simple and clean but more modern than Courier. I've switched to Consolas now I'm on Windows 7, but it was my monospaced font of choice for years on XP.

  • This new font aint too bad, but unfortunately it doesn't work well as terminal font as GNU Unifont does, also limited Unicode support is a problem. And * is totally wrong in this font, it should be 6 pointed and same size and location as +, like in Unifont: http://www.inside.org/~raynet/unifont.png [inside.org]

  • Too big. Need to show how it renders in smaller sizes, as that's how it will be used for coding.

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