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Monospaced and ready to code

Best fonts for programming: JetBrains Mono typeface is easy on the eyes

Sarah Schlothauer
jetbrains
© Shutterstock / Real Window Creative

What typeface do you program with? JetBrains released a new open source typeface that is designed with coding in mind. JetBrains Mono aims to minimize eye strain, improve code readability, reduce noise, and balance whitespace with ligatures. Besides its practical usage, it’s also just plain beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. See what it looks and add it to your IDE.

Long hours staring at a screen is a recipe for eyestrain. Dark mode and display-altering software such as f.lux help take some of the strain away.

What typeface is best for coding? When designing a typeface with the intention of coding, the distinction between characters, spacing, height, and line thickness are all components that need consideration.

JetBrains, known best for Kotlin, and IntelliJ-based IDEs, introduced a new creation. This time, they are dipping their toes into typography design. JetBrains Mono is an open-source, monospaced font specifically designed for developers.

jetbrains

Programming in Kotlin with Mono. Source.

SEE ALSO: Programming with Beef: Open source language takes inspiration from C#

JetBrains Mono features

Some of the notable coding-focused elements of this typeface include:

  • “Code-specific eye movement”: According to the announcement blog, when we code, our eyes move differently than when we read. We scan code vertically as often as we do horizontally. JetBrains Mono takes this into consideration and ensures that character spacing and shape is still legible when glancing up-and-down, as well as left-to-right.
  • Easy to read: Compared to other commonly-used programming typefaces, its letters are taller, but retain the same standard width. This makes it easier to read and render and prevents pixelation and blur on low-resolution screens, or when changing font sizes.
  • 138 ligatures: In order to reduce visual noise and balance out white space, JetBrains Mono merges symbols and shifts certain glyphs.
  • Distinct characters: Never confuse 0 and O or I and l ever again. The zero has a dot inside of it for an immediately noticeable distinction.
  • Contrasting italics: When switching to italics, JetBrains Mono uses a 9° angle.
  • Supports 145 languages
  • Install and use anywhere: Use the typeface when coding in JetBrains IDEs or any other IDE.

From v2019.3 onward, JetBrains IDEs will ship with JetBrains Mono as a selectable font.

JetBrains recommends using font size 13 with a line spacing of 1.2 for best results.

As it is open source and available under the Apache 2.0 license, lovers of the typeface can also use it in print posters, in applications, or on their websites.

jetbrains

Distinct characters. Source.

Potential issues?

So far, alongside all of the love, some users have raised a few issues regarding the typeface. For instance, curly braces do not align at certain font sizes in PyCharm.

According to an issue comment on GitHub, a v1.0.1 update will fix some of the current issues.

Curly bracket misalignment in Pycharm. Source.

SEE ALSO: Lyft open sources Flyte for developing machine learning workflows

Perfect programming fonts

What other typefaces are top-tier when it comes to long hours in front of the screen?

Here’s a selection:

This is just scratching the surface, so if you have a favorite not mentioned here, drop a comment!

Will you add JetBrains Mono to your IDE?

Follow the installation instructions on GitHub.

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is an assistant editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University and is currently enrolled at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany where she is working on her Masters. She lives in Frankfurt with her husband and cat. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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