All in the <head> – Ponderings and code by Drew McLellan –

A Font for Programming

When coding in a scripting or programming language, every character counts. Typing a single character wrong can cause a program not to compile or run, or worse can go unnoticed but cause a slight malfunction creating a ticking time-bomb. Because of this, a large proportion of development time is spent in the routine and iterative debugging process that irons out the typos, miss-paired brackets and zero-I-think-I-meant-O moments that are commonplace for us all.

Unfortunately, for commercial projects time is money and time-scales are finite, and therefore every moment spent on fixing stupid typos is a moment the project won’t get back. This is particularly true for web projects where time-scales are condensed and therefore the problem is intensified. So what can we do to help reduce the number of typos made when coding? Should we all run off and learn Dvorak?

Here’s a better idea. Use a font in your development tool which is designed for coding. One which is highly readable at small sizes (more code on screen). One which differentiates between a lowercase L and the number 1, and an uppercase O and zero. One which super-sizes the brackets so pairings are easy to spot at a glance. One which helps you see the typos as they occur, and therefore reduce the required debugging time.

One such font, the one I use, is ProFont. It’s available for Windows, Mac and *nix, so you’ve got no excuse not to try it. Give it a go – you might be pleasantly surprised.