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Ligatures in Programming Fonts: Hell No

Matthew Butterick, on the use of ligatures:

Ligatures in programming fonts—a misguided trend I was hoping would collapse under its own illogic. But it persists. Let me save you some time—

Ligatures in programming fonts are a terrible idea.

And not because I’m a purist or a grump. (Some days, but not today.) Programming code has special semantic considerations. Ligatures in programming fonts are likely to either misrepresent the meaning of the code, or cause miscues among readers. So in the end, even if they’re cute, the risk of error isn’t worth it.

His post certainly opened my mind up to the problems with ligatures in a programming font. It actually made me switch away from the new monospaced typeface from JetBrains, simply because of its use of ligatures, 138 code-specific ligatures to be exact.

Back to SF Mono it is.

(via Daring Fireball)

4 replies on “Ligatures in Programming Fonts: Hell No”

Yeah, that’s probably what got me too, the JetBrains font seemed pretty cool when I first saw it. But like you said, it’s pretty essential to know exactly what you’re typing when you’re writing code.

Totally with you on this one. If there is one place I absolutely need to know what characters I’ve typed, it’s in code. It is fun, I’ll give it that, but I don’t think it’s worth the trade offs.

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