[Pharo-project] Look and font competition
btc at openInWorld.com
Tue Jun 12 12:07:23 EDT 2012
Stéphane Ducasse wrote:
> Hi guys
> this morning Igor shows me all his work around dynlib loading of third party plugins.
> And yes now we get all the third party plugins downloaded and compiled (yes with only one copy of FT2)….Great stuff!
> Now we would like to organize a little competition for the official look of Pharo 2.0. So if you feel that you are a little
> bit designer inside, please send us proposals.
> We propose this one :) based on Curlz MT (welcome to the world of the pink little ponies) :)
I've got an interest in graphic design. I've just done a bit of reading
around to familiarize myself with font choice.
First of all, there is the question of monospaced versus proportional
fonts. It is widely believed that monospaced fonts are better for
programming but then Smalltalk is often different and better. I notice
that Pharo 1.4 uses proportional fonts and I've never had a problem with
that. There is good discussion at .
Then there are considerations of technology differences to consider
* A difference in rendering between Microsoft and Apple 
* Whether ClearType is available cross platform? Some advantages 
* Is TrueType available on all platforms?
* Will anti-aliasing be always-on?
Some points against proportional fonts are:
1. Not designed for programming. Distinguishing small-o, cap-o & zero
and one, small-i, cap-i, small-l, cap-L is the critical feature.
Punctuation is often not very distinctive. A little while ago there was
a hack to make the period character larger. Also in Pharo 1.4 cap-i
and small-l are hard to distinguish.
2. Alignment of indents. Mainly this is where different developers can
use 8, 4 or 2 spaces for fixed tabstops which affects the alignment of
text. However searching World > System > Settings for "tab" doesn't
show this is configurable, so Pharo seems to sidestep this issue.
So I like...
* Droid Sans (http://www.google.com/webfonts/specimen/Droid+Sans)
Apache License. Steve Matteson.
* Ubuntu (http://www.google.com/webfonts/specimen/Ubuntu) (similar to
Open Font License)
Some points for monospaced fonts are:
3. Some characters are just wider than others. Cramming an 'm' into the
space of an 'i' makes it challenging to design a good readable monospace
4. Most programmer fonts lack italic and bold - which I think becomes
important for Nautilus.
* Liberation Mono. In particular it seems the clearest of the lot when
ClearType is disabled. It deals very well with point (1) above. However
while the download page says it is Open Font License the download itself
contains only a modified GPL2 license that allows embedding without
modification of the font. Steve Matteson.
* Droid Sans Mono. Same author. Distinguishable point (1). Strong
period. Strong number 1 which matches how it appears in engineering
drawings. Apache license. Also consider that people like what they are
familiar with, and Android will become fairly widespread.
* Dina. Clean without ClearType. Identical even with ClearType. MIT
AnonymousPro does also looks good.
Disclaimer: I am yet to use these fonts in anger. Just reporting
impressions so far.
As an aside, even with monospaced fonts there remains an issue with
fixed tabstops where new text inserted preceeding a tab stop bumps the
tab out of alignment with other vertically aligned text. An very
interesting fix for this is "elastic tabstops"  
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