The latest MacOS release (10.6, or “Snow Leopard”) comes with a new monospace font. It’s called “Menlo” and it’s a slightly modified form of the standard Linux font (with appropriately weightly Linux name) “DejaVu Sans Serif Mono”, which is itself an updated form of Bitstream Vera Sans Mono. Apple’s modifications are a definite improvement to my eyes, mostly because they thicken up some of the wispier glyphs from DejaVu, like the underline and period. There’s a great comparison over here.
One thing that bothered me, though, is that they turned the zero into a 1980s-style “slashed circle”. Unhip, daddy-o! Naturally I searched for a font editor, and the best one I found was Font Forge, an old Linux app ported to the Mac but still requiring X11. So that’s two ways OS X is borrowing from Linux for font support. What’s up with that? Was there an elite cadre of fontistas working on Linux machines in a secret bunker? Linux is, um, not usually known for its great designers.
I couldn’t limit my tweaking to the zero glyph, so in the end I made about a dozen changes. Bitstream released these fonts with a very open license that only requires that you change the name if you change anything about the font, so I’m releasing my changes with the same license, as the font “Mensch”.
A summary of the changes I made:
Zero is back to being a circle with a dot in the middle.
The ampersand’s loop was closed. That was also bugging me.
Three is rendered in the gothic style, because the gothic style is clearly superior.
Lowercase L is drawn in a more traditional style (the Menlo variant looks bizarre to me), and one is turned gothic. I think the original artist drew the L weirdly to make it extremely clear that it’s not a one, but if you draw a gothic one, the difference is obvious even with a simpler L.
The bang, question, lowercase I, and lowercase J are made friendlier by turning the dots into actual circles, not just blocks.
Angle brackets are embiggened to facilitate languages like Java and C++ that use them to enclose class names. They parallel parens and square brackets in size now.
Q and lowercase Q are made more distinct. Lowercase Q gets a little more spunk. (This was a bit gratuitous.)
Here’s a sample of Mensch in use in code:
Doesn’t it look cool? Don’t you want it now? Here’s the link!