Fonts for developers

Fonts for developers

Are fonts with ligature the solution?

Published on Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Do you trust the developers of your favorite IDEs to choose the best font for you?

For a long time, I have resisted the urge to change shorcuts, graphics settings, and fonts in my IDEs and other tools. I had simple reasoning - it was just too much chore to set up everything just right and than to move to another computer or to reinstall Windows. A lot has changed in the last few years - we often have syncing capabilities (even across platforms!) and marketplaces for themes.

Fonts have come a long way too. We have several great options that are easy to install and use.

Monospaced vs. Proportional Fonts

Monospaced fonts have each character of the same width. Proportional fonts have variable widths based on the character's size (e.g., 'i' is smaller than 'Z').

For development, in most cases, we use monospaced fonts.

But can we use proportional fonts?

Yes. Modern IDEs will almost certainly support it.

Ok, but should we use proportional fonts?

Sure, if you want to be like the guy in the team that uses a white IDE theme and blinds you every time he shares a screen.

However, I'm opinionated, and I may be wrong - check a few compelling arguments for proportional fonts - The case for proportional programming fonts.

Variable Height?

var c = "something";

Can we have the variable height for fonts? First and third lines are not as important as the second one. Why is everything the same height?

It looks like an interesting idea. Maybe a custom theme? I should probably try this in Photoshop before creating a custom theme.

Font with Ligatures

Font ligatures are special characters in a font that combines two (or more) characters into a new symbol. For example, in the c# equality operator are two equal signs==, and with a font with ligatures, we can show it with one 'longer' equal sign.

Fire Code is one of the most popular developer-friendly fonts.

I find fonts with ligatures pleasant and use them everywhere. But, there are reasonable arguments against using ligatures in programming - Ligatures in Programming Fonts: Hell No

For those who want to try fonts with ligatures, check:

Chocolatey package:

choco install firacode
  • Dev Fonts - Great site with popular Ligature Fonts for Developers