The "Hack" Font

Posted in Technology with tags programming , blog -

Sorry, no cute stories about Quinton and the funny things he says today. No interesting tales about Ethan and his quest to become a driver one day in the next year or so… Today I thought I’d take an aside and post a public service announcement on the “Hack” font.

Why do you care? You likely do not. However, if you’ve found this post and are still reading, let me tell you why I like Hack.

I’ve been a minor font geek for years. Not of the type that designs fonts, getting down into the details of the placement of pixels within a square or anything like that, but I definitely appreciate a nice font, and I have historically found myself changing over the fonts I used from time to time just to see if there was one I liked better for different occasions.

In the last year, a few fonts have been released that have made me really “excited.” First there was Apple’s San Francisco Font, which they created as a typeface specifically for their watch. They liked it so much that they have since promoted it to all of their mobile devices for default display. Google also introduced Product Sans. I don’t know as much about the history of this font, but it was very much in the same vein as Apple’s effort from what I can gather.

Much of what I like about fonts has to do with printing on a page, and that’s probably the most prevalent use of them overall. I know my wife, for one, has been a big fan of Jester font for several years. I’ve had some fun at her expense on that one… An area of increasing interest to me is fonts for use in programming, though. These fonts are somewhat special in that it is almost always better to have a non-proportional font, meaning each character inhabits exactly the same width on the screen as all other characters. This is in contrast to non-proportional fonts, where each character takes up only the width that it needs (i takes up less space than w, for example). In programming, horizontal space typically matters, at least from the standpoint of how the developer perceives the code. Indentation and spacing is something to which attention is paid.

There are a number of programmer favorites when it comes to non-proportional fonts. Inconsolata and its variants have been a staple of mine for some time. Of course there’s always Courier, which is a staple on many systems. In the past year, though, Hack has been released to the world, and is now my go-to font for all monospaced text situations.

It’s hard to say what I like about it better from a style perspective. It looks great, but I couldn’t tell you why. From a non-subjective standpoint, though, I like that it is open source and free. I’ve heard rumblings about the great font wars where people will steal other people’s work and call it their own. Fonts are a highly contested area, for some reason - people that design them are artists… Hack, though, since it is open source and free, there are no flame wars or court battles - everybody can use the original, for free, for any purpose.

Anyway, if you are somebody who uses monospaced or non-proportional fonts on a somewhat regular basis, I encourage you to give Hack a try.

Written by Brandon Grady
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