September 22, 2003
Programming Fonts

Most developers spend a huge amount of time looking at code. Obviously, the quality of your VDU is very important, but it's also important to use a good font.

Obviously, you're going to use a non-proportional font for coding. As a Windows victim user, you get a couple by default. Courier New is just too hideous to contemplate. Lucida Console is better, but both these fonts have one big defect in common - it's hard to distinguish between zeros and upper case letter 'o's. Me, I prefer Andale Mono. (You can download Andale Mono here.)

Ned Batchelder points out Tristan Grimmer's programming fonts. Proggy Clean especially looks really nice for day to day code and text editing. Proggy Tiny, is, well, a bit too tiny for editing with, but it might make a good console font. I'll give them a try.

Update: I've had a look, and I think I'll be sticking with Andale for the moment, though Proggy Clean is almost as nice - it just takes up that tiny bit more room. Some samples: Andale Mono, Proggy Clean, and (for Hans) FixedSys.

(BTW, this code snippet arose because a colleague was struggling using a text editor to open a 1.2 gig log file in order to find all the lines containing a specific exception. A slight variation on this code pulled out the required lines, and took 13 minutes on an oldish PC. Another Python convert, I hope!)

Another update: V S Babu mentions Bitstream Vera in passing. There's a non-proportional font in there which looks pretty nice. An example - Bitstream Vera Sans Mono. But again, I think I'll stick with Andale.

Posted to Software development by Simon Brunning at September 22, 2003 10:37 AM

Know any that show up my coding errors in red? :)

Posted by: Tracey on September 22, 2003 10:42 AM

Eclipse. ;-)

Posted by: Simon on September 22, 2003 10:44 AM

Cool fontage Mr B. To enable this in the only editor worth having, append the following line to your .vimrc (or _vimrc on Windows);

set guifont=Andale_Mono:h8

I'm sure there is a pointy-clicky way to do this in Eclipse, but frankly its a crutch ;-)

Posted by: Andy Todd on September 22, 2003 11:26 AM

Thanks for this blog entry Simon. Do let us know the final result of your experimentation; I will follow your lead.

Posted by: David Pinn on September 22, 2003 01:23 PM

Hmm, what about the FixedSys font?

Posted by: Hans on September 22, 2003 04:02 PM

FixedSys? Yuk!

Posted by: Simon Brunning on September 22, 2003 04:09 PM

What ever happend to just grep'ing log files? ;)

And if you're on Windows, get your grep and other tools from here:

Posted by: hmm on September 22, 2003 07:38 PM

Hmmm, yes, grep's good. But to be honest, Python is always the first tool I reach for these days.

Besides, in the end we extended it to chop a couple of details out of the matching lines, and to output a CSV file ready to importing into Excel and drawing pretty graphs with. All pretty trivial in Python.

I often find that it's best to use the most flexible tool in the first instance. Even if the initial requirement is simple enough to use a simple tool, you usually end up needing something a bit more complex.

Posted by: Simon Brunning on September 25, 2003 03:41 PM

I quite like neep-alt-14. Proggy seems a little
small for my taste (or perhaps my monitor).

Posted by: Neil Schemenauer on September 26, 2003 06:07 AM

Can't find neep anywhere.

Posted by: Simon Brunning on September 26, 2003 01:04 PM

Neep and Neep Alt are available at:
They are both X11 bitmap fonts.

Posted by: Anonymous on November 13, 2003 01:20 AM

The HVRASTER font is the best bitmap nonproportional Programmer editor font out there. Comes in all sorts of sizes. I use it in Delphi and Vis Studio and all sorts of editors. Got it from site.

Posted by: Al Kocass on November 13, 2003 06:33 AM

"Obviously, you're going to use a non-proportional font for coding"


Java reads better with a proportional font - I use Lucida Sans Unicode in Eclipse when editing. The days of banner comments and aligning variable assignments in columns are gone. Any autoformatter worth its salt will produce extremely readable code, more so in a clean sans serif proportional font.

Posted by: Simon Rohrer on December 1, 2003 05:01 PM

Hmmm, a *proportional* font for programming, eh? I'm not convinced, but I may give it a go.

Posted by: Simon Brunning on June 2, 2004 12:44 PM
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