Trying out the Iosevka font

I've been using the Input font for a while now, and I was pretty sure I had found my ultimate font. It's really neat and consistent (the boxy-ness grows on you), and very customizable. However, I was recently browsing this thread on the Emacs subreddit in which someone mentioned Iosevka as their preferred font. On first impression I sort of just brushed it away, but when I went back and looked at it, I realized it had similar customizability to Input and was open source. Well, now I had to give it a shot.

Installing the font

For customizability, building Iosevka from source is probably the best option. The directions for macOS on the repo are ok, but let's go through them anyway, just to be sure.

  • Install nodejs, ttfautohint, and otfcc.
    • On macOS:

      brew install node ttfautohint
      brew tap caryll/tap
      brew install otfcc-mac64
    • On Linux, it's a bit longer:
      1. Install nodejs
      2. Install ttfautohint

        sudo apt-get install ttfautohint
      3. Get premake executable

        wget https://github.com/premake/premake-core/releases/download/v5.0.0-alpha11/premake-5.0.0-alpha11-linux.tar.gz
        tar -xf premake-5.0.0-alpha11-linux.tar.gz
        sudo cp premake5 /usr/local/bin/premake5 # Or wherever you want
      4. Build otfcc

        git clone https://github.com/caryll/otfcc
        cd otfcc
        premake5 gmake
        cd build/make
        make config=release_x64
        cd ../../
        cd bin/release-x64
        mv otfccbuild /usr/local/bin # or wherever
        mv otfccdump /usr/local/bin # or wherever
  • Next, install necessary libs with npm install.
  • Neat! Now you can use the instructions under "Build Your Own Style" to customize the font to your liking. To make it as similar to my Input configuration as possible, I ran the following:

    make custom-config set=input design='v-l-tailed v-i-hooky v-a-singlestorey v-zero-dotted v-asterisk-low v-g-singlestorey v-brace-straight'
  • After that, you can run make custom set=input and the .ttf files will be generated in the directory dist/iosevka-input, which you can then just drag into the "User" section of Font Book on macOS, or into $home/.local/share/fonts/ in Linux (and then run fc-cache -f -v).

Generating and using the web fonts

Though I still wasn't completely sold on the font, I thought It would be a good learning experience to try and use the custom web fonts for my blog. Generating the web fonts is similar, except that we use make custom-web set=input instead of make custom. You need a couple more things to run this, though: sfnt2woff and woff2_compress

  • macOS

    brew tap bramstein/webfonttools
    brew install sfnt2woff woff2
  • Linux
    • sfnt2woff

      sudo apt-get install woff-tools
    • Next, you can install woff2 utilities as follows (don't worry about the errors, as long as the executable woff2_compress is generated, you should be good, I think):

      git clone --recursive https://github.com/google/woff2
      cd woff2
      make clean all
      sudo mv woff2_compress /usr/local/bin
      sudo mv woff2_decompress /usr/local/bin

Now you can run make custom-web set=input in the Iosevka directory. The .woff files are generated in dist/iosevka-input/web.

Next we need to make the appropriate files available to our website. Since I'm using Gitlab Pages with Hugo, I made a directory in themes/Lanyon/static/fonts and moved four files there:

cp iosevka-input-regular.woff ~/blog/themes/Lanyon/static/fonts
cp iosevka-input-italic.woff ~/blog/themes/Lanyon/static/fonts
cp iosevka-input-bold.woff ~/blog/themes/Lanyon/static/fonts
cp iosevka-input-bolditalic.woff ~/blog/themes/Lanyon/static/fonts

Then, we add a bit of CSS to themes/lanyon/static/css/poole.css:

    font-family: "Iosevka";
    src: url("../fonts/iosevka-input-regular.woff") format('woff');

    font-family: "Iosevka";
    src: url("../fonts/iosevka-input-italic.woff") format('woff');
    font-style: italic;

    font-family: "Iosevka";
    src: url("../fonts/iosevka-input-bold.woff") format('woff');
    font-weight: bold;

    font-family: "Iosevka";
    src: url("../fonts/iosevka-input-bolditalic.woff") format('woff');
    font-weight: bold;
    font-style: italic;

After adding Iosevka to the font-family attribute under mono, tt, code, pre and building the site, this font is now used for code on the blog.

Doubts and further tweaks

I'm still a bit unsure how I feel about the font. I really like its customizability though, and I appreciate that it's open source, so I'm going to try to stick with it for about a week to try and get used to it and see how it goes. Overall, I think it makes a nice alternative to Input that's just as clean and self-consistent. My main concern is how horizontally squashed the font looks, but there's more parameters to play around with in the parameters.toml file, including character width, line height, and more!

Date: 2017-02-15