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Open Source Programming

"Hack" Typeface Is Open Source, Easy On the IDEs 211

Ars Technica writes that "At SourceFoundry.org this week, programmer Chris Simpkins debuted the 2.0 version of Hack, an open-source typeface designed specifically for use in source code." The revamped font is "characterized by a large x-height, wide aperture, and low contrast design in order to be 'highly legible' at common coding text sizes," and the font specimen shows how legible it is right down to downright tiny sizes, though Simpkins says the sweet spot is between 8 and 12 pixels. Hack's roots are in the libre, open source typeface community, and the project expands upon the contributions of the Bitstream Vera & DejaVu projects. ... Simpkins has been working on the project throughout 2015, and he tweeted that this latest version includes "new open type features, changes in weights, significant changes in spacing, Powerline glyphs, and more." The typeface now comes with four font styles: Regular, Bold, Oblique, and Bold Oblique.
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"Hack" Typeface Is Open Source, Easy On the IDEs

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  • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @02:51PM (#50422015)

    But where can I see it? Where's the damn link?

  • Link (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2015 @02:51PM (#50422017)

    Fantastic, an article without links...

    I know we don't read articles around here, but are we ready to give up even the pretense?

  • Gotta love that link to the original article ...
  • Here's the article (Score:4, Informative)

    by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @02:52PM (#50422025)

    I know I know.. nobody reads the article. But here's the link:

    http://arstechnica.com/informa... [arstechnica.com]

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @03:05PM (#50422115) Journal
      It's a simple, clean font.
      He took special care to make sure l,I, and 1 all look different, as well as 0, O.
      Looks good at low resolution.
      • by flargleblarg ( 685368 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @05:23PM (#50422649)
        I would like this font a lot more if the zero had a slash through it instead of that ridiculous ellipse in the center.
        • Yeah that's weird, but they did it so it would scale down better. (And I'll be honest, to my eyes, a slash looks like a ridiculous europeanism).
          • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by BasilBrush ( 643681 )

            Mate, the A-Z alphabet came from Europe, and 0-9 came from Europe/Middle East/India.

            America didn't invent any of it.

        • Yes, it doesn't seem to offer any advantage over menlo - which does have a proper slashed zero.

        • Slashed O (Score:5, Informative)

          by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples&gmail,com> on Sunday August 30, 2015 @11:01PM (#50423847) Homepage Journal

          Ø is a letter, not a number.

        • I would like this font a lot more if the zero had a slash through it instead of that ridiculous ellipse in the center.

          Zero with a slash through it? You're so US centric!

          So the letter 'Ø' is unknown to you I guess... I really don't want 'Ø' confused with '0' ...

      • by gnupun ( 752725 )

        It's a simple, clean font.

        Yes, more open source copycatting proprietary software as "hack" looks like a direct ripoff of Monaco or Menlo fonts found in OS X. How did they get past the copyright lawyers? Although I read somewhere on slashdot that fonts are not copyrightable in the US.

        • Interesting. Apparently, at one time fonts were not copyrightable. But now they cann be [wikipedia.org].
          • The article states that some countries recognize exclusive rights in typefaces for terms ranging from 14 to 25 years. Monaco and the other original Mac fonts came out in 1984.

            Digital outline fonts (.ttf, .otf) are subject to ordinary copyright as computer programs because there is more room for originality in control point placement and hint programming.

          • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
            In broadcasting we even have to pay royalties, we can't just buy the font.
        • by paulatz ( 744216 )

          It's a simple, clean font.

          Yes, more open source copycatting proprietary software as "hack" looks like a direct ripoff of Monaco or Menlo fonts found in OS X. How did they get past the copyright lawyers? Although I read somewhere on slashdot that fonts are not copyrightable in the US.

          Menlo is based upon the Open Source font Bitstream Vera and the public domain font Deja Vu (info embedded inside the font itself).

      • It's a simple, clean font.
        He took special care to make sure l,I, and 1 all look different, as well as 0, O.
        Looks good at low resolution.

        So what you're saying is that it's like Inconsolata [levien.com], but fourteen years late, and slashvertised.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        It's a simple, clean font. He took special care to make sure l,I, and 1 all look different, as well as 0, O. Looks good at low resolution.

        Indeed yes, I've just installed the odf hack font in ~/.fonts of my cygwin install and a simple

        xterm -fa "Hack-Regular" -fs "10" &

        shows it to be a very readable, now default, font for me. It is still quite readable even at 8 points!.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@NOSpam.world3.net> on Sunday August 30, 2015 @03:14PM (#50422167) Homepage Journal

      The site renders the font in the browser, which often looks different to the IDE. Would be nice to have samples from different operating systems.

    • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @04:09PM (#50422405)

      That looks exactly like the font that is already used as default fixed-width font in my five-year-old install of Ubuntu ...

  • Thanks for the link, i was really curious about what it looked like.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 30, 2015 @02:57PM (#50422065)

    It's Deja Vu Sans Mono with some questionable changes to glyph shapes, sizes, and spacing. There's a sore lack of comparison with other programming fonts; Ars is making it out as though we've all been stuck on Courier New until this point, but that's ridiculous. I'd like to see a comparison with, e.g., Consolas, Deja Vu Sans Mono, Courier New, and others.

    • by Dracos ( 107777 )

      I really prefer zero with a dot instead of a slash, but I don't like the oval this zero has in it. It's not vertically centered in the regular variant, and gets reduced to an incongruously thin sliver in bold.

      • I agree. The oval zero is a showstopper for me. My favorite zero is actually the one that Lucida Console has — it's thinner and taller than the capital letter O, with no slash or dot in it — but at least I can tolerate a slashed zero. This? Not so much.
    • by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Sunday August 30, 2015 @04:54PM (#50422569) Journal

      It's Deja Vu Sans Mono with some questionable changes to glyph shapes, sizes, and spacing.

      This is exactly what it is. Hack is nothing more than Deja Vu Sans Mono [dejavu-fonts.org] with some crappy amateur edits. For example, the line in the zero, the changes to the i and a -- all are horrible. I also don't like the increased vertical height, since the widescreen monitor plague has made vertical space a premium. I can only assume Hack came from someone grabbing the source for Deja Vu and messing around with it.

      Here are some examples [imgur.com] of commonly recommended programming fonts, if you want to compare (open in new tabs for easy comparison):

      Hack [imgur.com]
      Deja Vu Sans Mono [imgur.com]
      Consolas [imgur.com]
      Lucida Console [imgur.com]
      Anonymous Pro [imgur.com]

      I primarily use Deja Vu and Consolas, depending on what I'm doing. There's no way I'd switch either of them to Hack.

      • since the widescreen monitor plague has made vertical space a premium

        I seriously do not understand what you mean. Buy a square screen monitor.

      • by CoderJoe ( 97563 ) *

        Anonymous Pro's is awful. Mainly "a", "c", "e", and "s".

        • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

          Agreed. I only included it since it seems to be mentioned every time the topic of programming fonts comes up.

      • "For example, the line in the zero, the changes to the i and a -- all are horrible."

        Could yo explain.why the new 'i' is horrible but not the original 'l' (ell)? And I don't quite see any difference in 'a' in these two comparisons.

        http://gfycat.com/SomberUnited... [gfycat.com]
        http://i.imgur.com/8SqL6mT.gif [imgur.com]

        • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

          I don't know how that animated GIF was created, but when I looked at the font on my Windows machine I saw the pictures I linked in my original comment. If I left both font sizes at 10 points, Hack was taller than DejaVu. If I changed Hack to 9 points, it was the same height but narrower. In both cases, the a glyph has a curve on the top in DejaVu and is flat in Hack. Perhaps this is a quirk of how the TTF renders in Windows, or maybe the GIF uses a font size of something like 9.5.

          I personally don't lik

    • by SLi ( 132609 )

      Some of the changes seem nice to me, some of them bad, and some neutral. However I use DejaVu regularly and some of these might be just a matter of getting used to. The biggest changes are to i and 0 (zero).

      Here's an animated gif from Reddit: http://i.imgur.com/8SqL6mT.gif [imgur.com]

      The changes I like are to comma, underscore and minus.

      I don't quite understand their changes to i and 0 (zero); do they solve some problem or do they supposedly just look better? I like DejaVu's zero more. It seems to me the new i is close

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean I have to abandon comic sans for my Visual basic coding in MS VS??

  • How do you add this to Firefox or Chrome under Linux?
  • by redfood ( 471234 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @03:32PM (#50422247)

    It looks similar to Adobe Source Code Pro [github.com].

    Similar design goals [typekit.com] . Also open source on github.

    To my eyes Source Code Pro looks more refined.

  • It's quite ugly. The letter "i" for example, gahh. And too wide (can we say "kerning" about the fixed width fonts?).
    Instantly back to "Consolas".

  • Slashvertisements (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Please no more of these. I stopped going to that tech toilet Hacker News because of all the "my dumb product and how it's revolutionary" pseudo news bullshit.

  • by Pharago ( 1197161 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @04:37PM (#50422511)
    ...does it feel like another deja-vú
  • by ballyhoo ( 158910 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @04:59PM (#50422587)

    This animation shows DejaVu Sans mono vs Hack.

    http://i.imgur.com/8SqL6mT.gif [imgur.com]

    Hack is the image with the red square

    #awkward #ripoff

    • by pz ( 113803 )

      Among the differences that the excellent animation makes clear:

      1. Lower case I (i) is made inexplicably ugly. Perhaps it helps legibility at lower rendering sizes, I'm not sure.

      2. Parentheses have been moved such that the left paren is moved a little more left, and the right paren a little more right: this gives function calls an arguably more natural look if you like space around the arguments. In particular open/close next to each other are less awkwardly placed with the new spacing.

      3. Underscore (_) ha

      • 1. Lower case I (i) is made inexplicably ugly. Perhaps it helps legibility at lower rendering sizes, I'm not sure.

        Well, for one thing, it is made more similar to the `l` (el) letter, a big step towards confusion that surely most programmers will love.

  • elastic tabstops (Score:4, Informative)

    by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Sunday August 30, 2015 @04:59PM (#50422589)

    If editors would support elastic tabstops, then we would not be limited to fixed width fonts for code.

  • Looks good. I'll give it a try.

    However, the ttf version has a problem in Emacs: There is a lot of horizontal space between the characters. About 1/2 the character width.
    I do not see this problem in xterm or other applications. Also the font looks fine in the emacs font selector dialog (that's the GTK2 dialog).

    The otf version looks fine in Emacs

    • Also I noticed that in 11pt the 'u' is taller than other characters in emacs and in some gtk2 apps but not in xterm !!!!

  • Maybe I'm just getting old, but... 8 pixels? That's incredibly small on any modern display. If you're stuck in a low-resolution environment I can see that as being a benefit, but...

  • It goes by several names, including Monaco 9, fixed, and 6x13, all of which are quite similar. We don't need another.

  • ...on a real DEC VT102 display. A friend's dad had one and there were a few in some of the CompSci labs and I remember them being very readable, even in 132 column mode.

    I don't think it would be a question of just making a font with the same dots in the same places in a matrix. It was like the character set was designed for the way the video display would render it, providing just the right amount of phosphor blur to create good looking text. Which is probably exactly how it worked.

    Reproducing it for a m

  • I'll just leave this here [github.com]
    This is a fantastic font.
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Here's a link that actually shows what it looks like [github.io]. Looks pretty effective to me. Zero and capital oh are distinguishable. Capital eye, low case ell, and digit one are distinguishable. Quotation marks all distinguishable. Very readable.

  • "Low contrast", WTF?! Low contrast typefaces patently suck for readability. I don't think anyone is so stupid as to believe that low contrast is good for readability, but if there is anyone that stupid, see this [contrastrebellion.com]. There's a website you don't have to squint and strain to read.

    • Amen. That site nails the reason why, too - designers who value visual aesthetics over legibility.

      I understand why it happens - a contrasting font draws one's eye to the text, allowing the content, rather than the visual design to be the dominant feature on the page - and I'd imagine that's pretty hardwired into our visual perception. So the designer, knowing that he will win no design awards if the judges are distracted from the design by all of that contrasting text, chooses crappy, low-contrast designs.

  • http://christfollower.me/misc/glasstty/

    https://github.com/rbanffy/3270font

    There, your coding-font problems are solved. You're welcome.

    For bitmap fonts also see:

    http://people.mpi-inf.mpg.de/~uwe/misc/uw-ttyp0/

  • They don't have an "lorem ipsum" sample on their webpage.

    :)

    Just kidding. It looks very nice for console use. I will probably try it out.

  • I tried it in my (Windows) console and there is far too much leading. Is that the correct word? Too much vertical space. Lucida Console is worlds better for MS CLI use.
  • I use Source Code Pro and when I tested hack I lost about 8 lines of code. I like to see as much of my code as possible so a taller font is not an improvement.
  • I've been using Terminus [sourceforge.net] for about a decade and you can rip it from cold, RSI'd hands.

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