Revisiting liberalization of the San Francisco Mono license

quality code fonts are few and far between, and San Francisco Mono is pretty much the de-facto font family for the swift community, just like Fira Sans is for the rust community.

i’ve brought this up before, but i figure the issue is much more relevant now-a-days with the amount of documentation-related activity in this community. for almost seven years now, we have lived in a state of legal limbo when it comes to this basic programmers’ tool, though the problem has pretty much flown under the radar for most of that time, because in the past, nearly all swift developers were working on Apple platforms, which come with a San Francisco font license by default.

with the inroads this community has made into Linux and Windows, font licensing is a big problem now because we need to provide a consistent user experience across platforms for documentation, and the font-related rendering degradation on non-Apple platforms is unacceptable. working on documentation tooling has exposed me to the amount of polyfilling needed to address these issues, and the legal ambiguity surrounding this font adds another layer of complexity to an already tricky problem.

seeing as was recently open-sourced, should we be making more of an effort to open-source the San Francisco Mono font as well?


I’ve found IBM Plex Mono to be quite an acceptable stand-in, would recommend you check it out if you haven’t already.

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Is that really necessary? After a lean period of decades, I think by now there are dozens of great monospace fonts with permissive licenses these days. My favorite is JetBrains Mono, but I also like Liberation Mono, Fira Code, Iosevka, Input, etc.