KDE Plasma Next packages Oxygen as default font

Developer Sebastian Kügler posted about packaging Oxygen as the default font with KDE Pasma Next in his blog. The intention is to provide a common look and feel to the users across distributions. “Fonts matter a lot, since they determine how readable the UI is, but also what impression it gives”, Sebastian writes.

Till date Plasma has honoured the font settings of the distro and used it for rendering fonts. This poses many problems which Sebastian has discussed in details.

Font rendering is often sub-optimal and Plasma never had any substantial control on how fonts are going to look for the users.

The size of many widgets depend on the font as they adjust depending on the space required to fit text. The problem increases with translated versions of the text. Sebastian explains that Plasma relies on sensible font settings and metrics for better support of HDPI displays. There is a stronger emphasis on fontsize-as-rendered-on-a-given screen. The UIs are designed to fit a certain number of columns and rows of text with ample dynamic spacing, so that even translations fit well. The size of the UI elements are roughly the same size on different displays. This design seems to be received well by the users.

The font should provide correct information about its sizing because the UI relies on the font metrics. However, this is not true in practice. Many fonts do not provide the information correctly leading to oversized and undersized UIs and hence glaring visual and usability issues.

To overcome these problems and retain more control on how the defaults look, the Plasma Next team decided to include the Oxygen font and use it as default on new installs. They are also defaulting to certain renderer settings so the fonts look as smooth as possible on most screens. Along with the technical issues this also adds to the aesthetics. “With this setup, we feel it’s going to look just right”.

The Oxygen font is created by Vernon Adams and is released under the SIL Open Font License. It has been created under Google and is a beautiful, modern, simple and clean typeface. Optimized for rendering with Freetype, it targets web browsers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices.

This has been a lingering problem for Plasma and Sebastian is glad that the issue is fixed eventually. This is just going to be the default font and can be changed anytime. Users who prefer some other font can always change it from the font selection in systemsettings.

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