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Monaspace by GitHub Next: An Innovative Superfamily of Fonts for Code

Unlocking the Future of Code Typography: Explore Monaspace, GitHub Next's Groundbreaking Font Superfamily.

Written on November 16, 2023 · 3 min read

Monaspace by GitHub Next: An Innovative Superfamily of Fonts for Code

"We are a team of researchers and engineers at GitHub, exploring things beyond the adjacent possible. We prototype tools and technologies that will change our craft. We identify new approaches to building healthy, productive software engineering teams." - GitHub Next

Introducing Monaspace 1.0

Monaspace, currently at version 1.0, redefines the landscape of code fonts. Built to provide a more expressive palette for code and the tools used to work with it, Monaspace stands out as a new type system advancing the display of code on screen.

A picture showing some examples of Monaspace fonts

The Challenge

Since the teletype machine's earliest days, code has been set in monospaced type—letters on a grid. Monaspace addresses this historical approach and introduces a new type system that pushes the boundaries of displaying code on screen.

Advancements in computing technology have always paralleled improvements in code display and editing. From CRTs enabling screen editors to the rise of integrated development environments with graphical user interfaces, each era brought new possibilities.

Yet, the options for layering additional meaning onto code remain limited. While syntax highlighting introduced color-coded distinctions in 1982, there's still room for improvement beyond colors, considering the graphical limitations of most editors.

Imagining Possibilities

Monospaced fonts have long suffered from incompatibility issues, making it impossible to seamlessly mix different fonts. Monaspace addresses this challenge, allowing developers to mix and match fonts seamlessly. This opens the door to layering more meaning onto code with a palette that goes beyond colors and introduces bolder weights. Developers can now build interfaces for code that demand more structure and hierarchy.

Texture Healing

A significant drawback of monospaced type is its uneven texture—a consequence of fitting every letter into a uniform box. Texture Healing, a novel technique introduced by Monaspace, evens out the density of monospaced type, bringing it closer to the proportional type's traditional appearance.

This technique preserves the monospace grid and seamlessly integrates with most editors without requiring new software or editor plugins.

Code Ligature

Monaspace goes beyond conventional monospaced fonts by including code ligatures for a broad variety of languages. These ligatures are organized into stylistic sets that users can enable or disable based on their preferences.

Stylistic sets cater to specific languages, enhancing the visual experience. For instance, ss01 includes ligatures for character sequences commonly seen in JavaScript, while ss05 provides ligatures for operators in F#.

In addition to eight stylistic sets, Monaspace features two utility sets:

  • calt (contextual alternates): Activates ligatures that adjust the visual positioning of character sequences without altering their shape or appearance. This feature also activates texture healing.

  • dlig (discretionary ligatures): Activates a basic set of ligatures shared by many programming languages and frameworks, mainly sequences of repeating characters.

Download & Install

To experience Monaspace in your favorite code editor, visit the official Monaspace website or explore the GitHub repository.

This note is written by Diky Hadna — Software Engineer & Digital Nomad Mentor. Read my story and get in touch with me!