UPDATE 25th SEPTEMBER: Adobe have now posted the full Source Code Pro font set (including bold, light and semi-bold faces) to SourceForge so there is no longer any need to extract it from the Brackets source, It can be downloaded from http://sourceforge.net/projects/sourcecodepro.adobe
When building the ideal coding environment there are changes you can make that will radically improve your productivity – a new editor, a good snippet manager, a validator, version control. Once these basics are in place the return from future changes will, almost certainly, decrease but that doesn’t mean that there are no further gains to be made – sometimes in unexpected places. One of these unexpected places is the font you use within your code editor. If you work in your editor 8+ hours a day then your choice of font could be crucial in reducing eye strain and increasing concentration.
At the start of August 2012 Adobe released their first open source type family, Source Sans Pro (SSP), primarily intended for use in their application user interfaces. Attractive those this font is (you can see it in use at brackets.io) it’s lack of monospacing makes it unsuitable for use within an editor. Luckily, at the time of it’s release, Adobe confirmed that they were working on a version of SSP more suited to code editing. This hasn’t yet been officially released but, with the Sprint 14 Build of the open-source code editor Brackets we have access to an early release version of this font, now known as Source Code Pro.
I’ve been using the font for the last few days and, so far, have found it more than capable. It’s not a radical change from my previous preferred font – MonteCarlo Fixed – but it’s an enough of an improvement to make me want to stick with it. For me, the ideal coding font should be monospaced, sans serif, loosely kerned, light and airy. In addition, each character must be distinct enough to avoid confusion, for example between 1 and l, 0 and o. Source Code Pro easily meets all of these requirements. With the addition of some extra line padding top and bottom in Sublime Text 2, code becomes very readable and easy on the eye even over long periods of concentration.
Until Adobe officially release Source Code Pro (which they have said will be “soon”) the easiest way to try it out is by downloading the Brackets editor. SCP is used by default in this editor and can be extracted from the source for use within your own editor of choice. Brackets is hosted on GitHub so you can use your favourite Git client to pull the source or, if you don’t use Git, you can download and extract a zip of the source.
Once the source is downloaded (or downloaded and extracted) the True Type formatted font will be found at
Double-clicking on this font in Windows or OSX will install it, making it available in your editor.
If Source Code Pro doesn’t meet your needs but you think you’d benefit from a change of font, you may like to give Mensch or Inconsolata a try – both are very popular with developers.
- Source Sans Pro (adobe.com)
- Brackets, open-source code editor (brackets.io)
- Brackets, open-source code editor, download (github.com)
- Typography 101B: the role of white space in making words readable (geoff-hart.com)
- Mensch: A coding font (lag.net)
- Inconsolata (levien.com)