El Capitan - San Francisco Number Spacing

Hi there,

I have seen a nice video by Apple about the new San Francisco Font used in El Capitan. It is said in there (~ 28th minute) that Apps that are recompiled in El Capitan get “proportional numbers by default” and “opt into monospaced”.

Has anyone played with this? Will we get the choice in Xojo? I’m just curious - while looking at it I realised it’s a good idea to stick with monospaced numbers for lists (would look horrible) - but on the other side in some situations (like putting together addresses or showing little calender-chooser-type-thingies - as also stated in the video for the calendar app) it would really look better to use proportional numbers.

I know it’s a bit academic, but … I’m still curious :slight_smile:



It is indeed an intriguing “innovation” since the vast majority of fonts around have fixed width numbers. But monospaced digits have indeed a very solid justification (pun intended) : how would one get the nicely aligned decimals in a list otherwise ? I cannot really fathem a spreadsheet with proportional digits.

I put innovation between quotes because there was never any technical impossibility to come up with proportional digits, even in the original Mac era. Indeed, 1 is narrower than 4, and if one even gets into old fashion digits, some will go below or above the baseline. It all is a matter of design, which font designers have sometimes used. I did it myself routinely in handwriting fonts.

I guess time only will tell if this style will generalize or not.

AFAIK this will only show up in Xojo apps once Xojo link against El Captian, so we have four years or so. When that time comes, if Xojo don’t include an option, you can use a simple declare to revery back to monospaced digits.

This is impacted by what SDK applications link against (or claim to link against). That has no relation to the versions of OS X an application supports. The Xojo linker could easily start claiming that executables are linked against 10.11and probably will within the next six months.

Oh okay, thanks for correcting me.

I’ve added a feature request for the new font function when you guys link against El Capitan, because when you do, apps will automatically get the flexible width font, and it will require extra work to revert back to fixed-wdith digit typefaces.


You are right. Actually - there’s a good (bad?) example in El Capitan itself: open a folder with lots of files in it, go to list view and look at the “change date” column (have a german system, don’t know the english headlines, sorry).

Looks … like it takes getting used to. Or … simply ugly?

So … we don’t “link against” El C at the moment, that’s good to know, too (for someone who’s not very deep into the framework stuff).

Thank you,

Jan :slight_smile:

BTW the San Francisco font does not show up in Font Book here under 10.11.1.

Yes, this is pretty odd. You can download the font for Font Book, however, from https://developer.apple.com/fonts/

Thank you Gavin.

I just downloaded it, and I can confirm : nothing new, really, in terms of technology. They simply designed the font with proportional character width for digits, as I have been doing for decades.

What is intriguing is the optional fixed width digits. None of the 21 font files contains any monospaced digits. So either they have another set of fonts hidden somewhere in the system like Helvetica Neue (probable), or they do some magic with CoreText to monospace proportional digits when the system is opted out of proportional numbers (kinda unlikely).