Sep 21 2012

Source Sans Pro: Adobe’s First Open Source Font

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It’s only been a few weeks ago, that Adobe’s font developer Paul D. Hunt surprised us with the release of a modern, elegant font under the – gasp – open font license. You can even call this release a sensation as Adobe always has been radical in protecting its fonts. They were the inventors of the proprietary (and expensive) Type 1 format which flushed a lot of money into the company’s coffers. Adobe was so extremely keen on font protection, that they went so far as to encapsulate them into a font manager, that was not only able to ruin one financially but more so to gaslight its users. Fortunately the system went down the drain as the so-called font wars broke out. But well, let’s not bear grudges. Say a friendly hello to Source Sans Pro.

Source Sans Pro: 6 different styles, lots of languages, web fonts en masse

Paul Hunt published a lengthy blog post to explain why and how he developed Source Sans Pro as well as where Adobe sees perspectives to the development of more open types. I was only a little disappointed having to read that it was the demand of open font faces in Adobe’s own development processes that fired up the efforts. Products such as Brackets and the Strobe Media platform plain needed fonts in their user interfaces. And as these are free software projects, the font needed to be free as well.

Hunt’s utmost pride is that he managed to establish a clear distinguishability between the characters 1, l and I.

Regarding the looks of the font-face Hunt got guided by fonts stemming from the early twentieth century, especially News Gothic and Franklin Gothic. Source Sans Pro comes in six styles, each with an additional variant in italic, thus adding up to twelve font faces altogether. Language support is extensive. Besides german special characters you’ll also find support for languages that are rarely ever supported, such as Vietnamese or Navajo.

Sourceforge carries all the files associated to Source Sans Pro, including the raw files needed for modifying the font. If you’re like me, the stripped down package carrying just the fonts will be more of interest to you. As Adobe is aware of this, they put together a separate download for the most of us. If you need an even more personalized solution, you should take a look at this download page. An overview in PDF-format shows you all the available characters and can be found here.

Web designers rejoice: Besides delivering a variety of downloadable packages Adobe has put Source Sans Pro up for being hosted at Typekit, Webink and Google Web Fonts. This way you can easily use Source Sans Pro inside your web projects. Apropos Google: Shortly you’ll be able to use the font inside of Google Docs. Some web fonts can already be used with Google Docs. If you don’t know how, read this piece.

Adobe sees Source Sans Pro as a work in progress and promises to continually expand the font. First up is the expansion to cyrillic and greek alphabet. A roadmap will be established to inform about the next steps and their schedules. I haven’t seen it yet, though…

About the Author

Dieter Petereit is Noupe's Editor-In-Chief and a veteran of the web with over 25 years of experience in the world of IT. As soon as Netscape became available he started to do what already at that time was called webdesign and has carried on ever since. Almost a decade ago he started writing for several online publications, some well, some lesser known. Dieter is a heavy G-Plusser, so why not meet him over there?

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Comments and Discussions
  • Grieg, 21 September 2012

    great post, you are correct about it, right on!

  • BobK, 21 September 2012

    Sensation? I’d say it’s more of a sAnsation! ba dum chhh

  • Luís Serrano, 22 September 2012

    This is a great notice. Awesome font from Adobe and even better free!

  • Simon, 28 September 2012

    Nice font. Prob give it a try. Is it any good for smaller text or just for headings? How’s it work cross browser?I’m having loads of grief with some fonts on Chrome.

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