The Best Font for Programming: M+

The best monospace font for programmers is M+.

M+

I met M+ in a chance encounter, trying out the ill-fated kod editor. It’s an unusual font, but it clicked and has been my stable choice for more than three years.

Much has been written about fonts for programming, but this lovely face tends to miss the cut.

mplus

Retina screens make subtle strokes and thinner weights look better, and M+ does that: its thin is ethereal, almost a stick font. I only use retina screens: at lower resolutions, bitmap fonts like Terminus can shine.

Font Widths

It’s much narrower than average, so 80 characters per line can fit in less than half of my screen width - so I can use a vertical split in vim to edit two or more files at a time.

2014-07-08 at 5.59 PM

It covers Basic Latin, Latin-1 Supplement, Latin Extended-A, Kanji and Kana: beyond that, only a few monospace fonts like DejaVu have coverage.

Disambiguating Characters

It’s clear: 0 is slashed to differentiated it from O, and 1 is easy to tell apart from I, and l.

Give it a shot? M+ is totally free and open source, and installable on Debian & Ubuntu as fonts-mplus. You can download the font from its SourceForge page, but it’s Xz-compressed. So, here’s a .zip file version of M+ you can download in one click.

Recently

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This month I went to Rehoboth Beach, recorded new songs with Teen Mom at Persona Non Grata, and celebrated the fifth anniversary of my house.

Watching

Reading

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Thinking

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Bouncing between many thoughts and a touch of anxiety.

I want to support Mayday PAC for whatever it’s worth, but it doesn’t look like the $5M goal will be reached in time. Of course it’s fraught - whether corruption truly can be fixed with a crowd-funded PAC, and if its set of funders will be an honest sample of the American population. But apathy is not just fatigue, it’s fatiguing. And things that move the needle and change the world - these things increasingly tend to be impractical, unprofitable, and improbable. Serving both masters, like the TOM’s approach of grafting good onto a leaf of this infinitely messed up tree, creates and fixes problems at the same pace.

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I’ve been thinking about open source and copyleft again. Working in that fashion has been the default for my entire career, so it’s less a question of whether, but why, what it means, and what that should become.

Open source licenses like the GPL, were an interesting hack of the legal system: in place of control of property, they enforce the commons. By the time I was done working with Drupal, the world had switched to the BSD license that didn’t have this infectious property. Companies can use your work in their products, without sharing their own source. You get attribution, a friendly credit, but they profit.

Liberal licenses like the BSD enable the startup tempo increase: companies have a plethora of free parts they can recombine into a product and ship, fail, or exit. Fast-burn startups breathe open source code but never exhale.

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I’ve been working on a side project. It’s a brutally simple, geographically limited, purely for-fun thing that I hope to finish in a week or two. A chance to learn a new facet of the real world, a different language, and work in private a little. I have a private repo or two, and gleefully curse in the commits.

Recently

Pardon the gap.

DC’s humid summer has been arriving slowly and unsteadily. In the meantime, I’ve adventured out to Theodore Roosevelt Island, East New York, New Jersey, and such.

Teen Mom keeps working towards another full-length album. Mapbox is announcing a big thing on Monday at WWDC, and we’ve made several neat things recently.

I’ve been reading The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst and it is fantastic: informative in every dimension, about attitude, content, history, and usage. It’s clearly print-focused (hence the need for a web equivalent), but doesn’t annoy me in that direction. As such, it’s interesting to see the parallels between his viewpoint and Tufte’s, which feels like print thinking blindly applied to the web.

Listening

Watching

Reading

For those larger curves to make sense you have to worry about a breakthrough that can do it in cube-root time, but not really forth-root and certainly not fifth-root. How much would you pay to insure yourself against that, precise possibility?

^ Matching Primitive Strengths