Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Get the Font (getthefont.com)
117 points by octosphere on Dec 8, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

Typefaces are an incredibly labor-intensive product to produce.

The more complete it is with respect to specialized features like ligatures, old-style figures, international lettering, weight variations, display-sized variants, etc. etc. the more this compounds upon itself.

Just think about that before you use this to download Gotham/Proxima Nova/whatever cool font you want to use but don't feel like paying for.

Typefaces are an incredibly labor-intensive product to produce.

The exact same can be said about programming, often multiplied tenfold by the number of engineers.

But the software industry has long understood the zero-cost of duplication, and counting on scale to build up massive revenue. Writing a good mobile game is heavily labor-intensive but you can sell it only for $4.99 if you do it a million times.

More specialised software costs more not necessarily because it's somehow more expensive to make but because the experts are willing to pay more because they receive more value out of the expert software. And usually there are cheaper options for small players who only need parts of the functionality. So the sellers understand that ideally you would only charge each customer as much as they're willing and able to spend because each time you would still charge something instead of being left without revenue at all.

There's revenue in market segments. A marketing studio can afford to pay $10k for a font for a $500k advertisement campaign. An application developer or a personal website owner could pay a onetime $20 for a specific font if he's a design enthusiast but wouldn't pay $100 and rather go with some open, free font. If font licenses cost too much they are not even on the radar for spending except in the high-end cases only. I've never considered buying a font myself but it might become an option with sufficient selection of fonts at a reasonable price.

The problem is licensing, the prices for licensing is just absurd. Like to get a font to use in your app, you need to pay $5,000+ for any decent looking font. And if you are trying to design something - good luck downloading a font for a desktop to try it out. I am sure this system can be improved to benefit both font authors and font users

Given that only a few type designers are even prosperous, let alone wealthy, my sense that this is the necessary price. I assume you like you get paid for your labor. Or is it only type designers that should work for free because you have some sort of basic human right to a "decent looking font."

> I am sure this system can be improved to benefit both font authors and font users

One approach that could work is draconian DRM but no one liked the drawbacks. You must have some idea on how improve the system, since you are so sure it can be improved. I'd suggest you implement this idea - you'll be doing everyone quite the favor and become rather wealthy as a result.

Or alternatively the market is not very efficient. There is zero marginal cost for a font to be used, yet people are currently precluded from using fonts due to price. That seems to suggest there may be an inefficiency, and reducing the price may not only reduce piracy but also increase revenue.

What the parent comment is saying is that many of the people who download these things are designers who have no need for the typeface for personal use but rather for clients who are the end customer. If there is no way for designers to use your typeface free of charge then you can kiss goodbye to any revenue generated through companies who can actually afford the licensing fees and use designers to recommend a typeface.

One thing you'll see though is that different use cases trigger different licenses at different price points. Embedding a whole font in an app, for distribution will be eye watteringly expensive. Licensing a font for your site will typically be significantly cheaper. Although there are still plenty of ways to get screwed. For instance, Adobe likes to count cache hits as page views.

> The problem is licensing...

It's led to larger tech companies rolling their own, which often means just taking something already out there and changing a few corners slightly and calling it a new work.


There are thousands of quality typefaces you can embed in your app at affordable prices. Both myfonts.com and fontspring.com, two of the most popular commercial font sites, offer licences for app embedding.

As others have mentioned, there are lots of high quality open source fonts too. For example, Adobe's Source San Pro, designed by Paul D. Hunt, is popular on many websites. It was designed for UIs and comes in a whole range of weights:


Another font designed for UI display is Clear Sans commissioned by Intel:


When looking for a font, the quality can vary widely, but the choice is enormous.

usa PHP, this is false.

> Like to get a font to use in your app, you need to pay $5,000+ for any decent looking font.

There are many high quality open source fonts available. For example:



Many foundries such as Grilli Type have free trials (https://www.grillitype.com/free_trials) and reasonable pricing for very high quality typefaces (https://www.grillitype.com/shops/gt-america <$1k for desktop + web)

Having a couple of free good fonts to select from is not a great solution. Most design studios are using hundreds of fonts to pick a right one for branding.

And just so you know - app updates count as new installation in terms of font licensing. So in you example from GT America font, if you have an app that is installed on 5,000 phones (which is quite easily achievable on app store) you will have to pay $245,000 : https://cl.ly/21d48f64f529

And here is a mobile app licensing terms on fonts.com:

> LICENSES FOR MOBILE APPS A mobile app license permits the embedding of a font into the iOS, Android or Windows Phone mobile platforms for a single title and a set number of app installations. You can view and modify the installation limit from the cart. App installations can be spread out across the platforms your app is available for. A new license is not required to cover updates to an app, however installations of newer versions of your app do count toward your installation limit. Learn more about licenses for mobile apps

The question becomes: why are you embedding an entire font into your mobile app? So you can create one off UI widgets? For corporate branding?

While every dev seems to fancy themselves a great designer, the reality is that apps end up looking like they were rejected from MySpace and Geocities for being too ugly. Custom widgets using non-system fonts (much like in the desktop and web sphere) often lose out on important accessibility baubles as well. I can certainly understand a desire for completely custom widgets on something like a full screen game. But to eschew the system fonts? Meh.

Meanwhile if your main use is branding you don't need to embed or subset the whole font. Include your logo or whatever as a sprite (vector or bitmap) and get a license for that sort of usage, it's cheaper.

If $50/seat is too much, the correct answer isn't "hey let's pirate it for my commercial app".

> If $50/seat is too much, the correct answer isn't "hey let's pirate it for my commercial app"

When did I say it was a correct answer?

IBM has a really cool site for their Plex font:


If you don't like the price feel free to create your own. There are some excellent open source tools available for font creation and manipulation like FontForge. There are also some excellent open source fonts that you can use as a workflow guide.

Fonts have historically been expensive because each variant is a significant amount of work, and folks often want ALL THE VARIANTS. You're looking at years for a single variant, and a single family of fonts may be someone's life work. Yes it's non-trivial to create an italic version of a font. Kerning each weight... want fonts optimized for a given size (opticals)? That's a ton more work there too. Of course it costs money. Don't except that a license to redistribute that for a pittance — there's a big difference between a license to create documents that will use a subset of the font and embedding a whole font that your customers could then use for any purpose they see fit essentially bypassing any sort of income. Although I'd argue you'd be best off using system fonts in the vast majority of use cases lest you come off looking like that guy who uses Comic Sans everywhere.

That said, while legacy companies have been (and still are) reluctant to embrace newer technology, some are better than others. Most foundaries will let you preview fonts online and offer a wide array of samples to view. Typekit was a great resource where you could license fonts for web use. Of course Adobe bought and mangled the ever living hell out of them. In terms of foundaries, FontShop has been at the forefront of embracing technology (including all the cool things you can do with OpenType) and typically licenses for their excellent FontFont family of fonts are very reasonable. Monotype bought FontShop a few years back so we'll see how long that lasts though.

My take on it is that if I'm using something to make money I should pay for it. When I setup my letterhead and business cards I ended up buying licenses for the font variants at around $30-$40 per. It adds up, but it also gets you thinking about whether or not you really need the bold, condensed, italic variant or not.

Look -- I had a conversation last night with a friend of mine about the new Nikon mirrorless system. He was a pro photographer for a while. His comments? People don't buy photographs anymore so there's no sense in him investing in a new system. He let the lease run out on the studio this year and bought a boat instead. Here's the key difference between a photographer and a typographer: one finished photo may be the result of a few days or weeks of work[1], one font is going to be an order of magnitude more work.

1: Yes there are ALWAYS exceptions and outliers -- e.g. for the stuff I shoot I spend maybe a few hours in post per shot at the very most and that's pretty extreme for me.

You owe nothing to corporations. Use whatever code, fonts, software, news and any other digital media you like, and feel zero guilt.

Type designers are not faceless corporations. They are mostly individual designers who invest incredible amounts of time and energy into what they make.

Lots of people put time and energy into their work. Doesn't mean I owe their employers money.

what do you do for a job? do you make anything? can i take it for free? what about your computer or other belongings, can i take those? are you gonna finish that burger?

Another trick is to append a typeface- before the font name when searching NPM, e.g. here: https://npms.io

The creator of the Gatsby static site generator has a "typeface.js" repo where he uploads and prepares free Google and Fontsquirrel fonts for NPM, including the css. It makes the self hosting of fonts really easy if you use webpack.


So this is basically a search engine for font piracy? There are already good databases for free fonts.

You are looking at this the wrong way. This is a great way of locating font pirates.

https://fonts.google.com/ lets you search fonts, see a preview and then download a zip file (or get a link if you don't want/need to host the font).

Tried it on the most recent font I've needed, DilleniaUPC (the font used by youtuber SovietWomble, if anyone's familiar). Not only did it not recognize my initial misspelling (DilenniaUPC), it doesn't find anything for .ttf of that font.

Admittedly, DillenniaUPC is a Microsoft font included on windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, not legally available for download elsewhere. Practically, there are many locations offering this font for download.

In either case, recognizing the font name and reporting the unavailability of free download for this font would be far superior to the "Nothing found, sorry!" result.

As is, it's unclear why I should ever choose this tool over typing the name of the font and the desired extension into google.

And what great enthusiasm with the “!” they have

This is enabling the piracy of typefaces. It takes significant skill and time to create a typeface, and creators should be paid for their work.

Instead of pirating typefaces, please see:




Many foundries also offer trial versions of their typefaces. For example:


If you don't want to pay for a typeface, there are many very good open source options available. For example:



There's also google's rather excellent Noto font (available in all languages!)




I agree with you, and, it's the people who checked licensed fonts into open source repositories who are really enabling piracy.

I am surprised that font foundries aren't already requesting take downs.

From a US perspective, typeface piracy is impossible absent a design patent, as typefaces cannot be copyrighted (37 C.F.R. § 202.1(e)). Individual font implementations may be copyrightable, but if one can acquire a specimen, they may digitize or recreate that specimen. Also, only outline fonts are protected (due to the fact that most of them contain some sort of executable code), bitmap fonts are not copyrightable (and absent a design patent, there is no other legal avenue for protection).

This doesn't end the debate, obviously, for those outside of the US.

A search engine doesn't enable piracy, it is the inherent property of data that allows it to be copied easily and cheap (zero marginal cost).

All a search engine or the Internet does is making it slightly more convenient. But they are just the messenger, the tool. The underlying problem is the property of data.

Instead, what those who make a typeface should do is raise a fund after which they set their font free. Pretty much the same way open source fonts are created, but if you don't work for a company you can even found your own and/or use platforms such as Kickstarter or IndieGogo. That typeface authors are unable to adapt to how easily data is distributed (in 2018, no less) isn't my problem. Nor is it the problem of Get The Font or Google.

What is this, accidental pirating?

"Please only download fonts for which you have the rights."

Doesn't really seem like "safe harbor" to me if the host is the one who curated the selection of downloads...

Doesn't seem curated, seems like Github was scanned for any file ending in .otf .ttf .woff .woff2 .eot and the link's directly to that Github hosted file.

Overall this doesn't sound like great news for someone that decided they'd distribute a fee-able font on Github without realising it. Helvetica on old Mac, or Calibri on Windows, for example.

It worked for me. So does it basically search GitHub for the font and gives you a GitHub link?

Indeed a great way to find accidentally pirated fonts. Here’s to the countdown of type foundries sending mass takedown requests to GitHub.

Tip: Search for Powerline. It'll get you fonts which work amazingly well with Powerline.

"Server internal error" from the API on any search request, even when retrying

Tried it with montserrat (open free font). It gave me “something went wrong!” error.

Looks like one just has to retry when that happens. It took me three tries but it did come back with a pointer to that font.

Suggestions would be helpful. Some fonts are really hard to type.

Why is it suggesting names in my contact list when I start typing?

I’m guessing the field name matches something your browser interprets as autofill-able?

Like <input name="fname">?

I checked the input field, it doesnt even have a name, my browser is Safari :/

I don’t have dev tools on mobile, so it was a guess. iOS Safari also prompts for autofill on that page. I think sibling comment is right. The placeholder has “name” in it.

Maybe it checks the placeholder for 'name'

Great site!

Is there a crash course in typography I can get somewhere? I have trouble deciding whether slim fonts are better or wide fonts are for legibility. And what other factors matter more.

I recommend http://practicaltypography.com, though it won't answer your question (iirc).

By ‘slim’ fonts, do you mean lighter lines? If so, afaik it's not a matter of prescriptive typography, and in addition, heaviness may vary with the font. For headings and short inscriptions, light fonts are alright (personally I often outright prefer them for headings), but for body text, you should check legibility of the chosen font on non-hidpi displays, and preferably ask someone with older and more tired eyes—as light fonts tend to cause strain for people with worse eyesight. Generally, of course, the ‘regular’ weight is the recommended one, since it's tailored for setting main text in the first place. The current fashion of using light fonts is brought about by graphic designers, not typesetters.

If you mean condensed fonts instead, those are only suited for short runs of text, since the lines become too dense.

I mean slender, less width. The latter. I saw that in the Mozilla post about goodbye edgehtml, the headline was in wide font.

Ah, it seems Zilla Slab is indeed rather wide, though not as spaced-apart as e.g. Verdana, partly due to the slabs (which are an idiosyncratic choice for body text).

In my experience, wide fonts such as Verdana can be tiring in long texts, as the eye has to move more to consume the same words. However, in the case of Zilla, the letters are still close together, so overall the font is barely wider than more traditional serif ones. Note that it's also very well kerned and there are no irregularities in the type. So, the challenge would be to find a wide font that doesn't put letters too far apart and has good kerning. (Zilla itself is free, btw, like other Mozilla fonts, but again slabs are peculiar―it might remind too much of Mozilla sites if used in headings, but may be ok in body text.)

On the other side of the scale, narrower fonts are also ok until a certain point, where they become too dense and are suited only for short inscriptions.

Basically, there's an optimal width, and that's what most fonts use. Large deviations are risky, and you need to make sure that the chosen font works well in other aspects―'blackness' and kerning―or the reading experience will begin to fall apart.

Note that headings are very forgiving in regard to font experimentation, compared to body text―as the reader will glance over them pretty briefly.


> "I have trouble deciding whether slim fonts are better or wide fonts are for legibility."

There are quite a few additional aspects you need to consider with respect to legibility as well, including size, use (such as for body text or headlines), and media (e.g., web versus print).


Please don't be a jerk in HN comments.

As a UX UI designer I often download premium typefaces to use on my machine. If I like how things look I may recommend the type to my clients. If I had to pay to every typefaces before I recommend it, I would never do it. In essence, my so called "pirating" is making type designers money. Has it ever occured to anyone that by allowing designers to download premium typefaces, they are making themselves MORE money? Would you rather make a few hundred bucks from me or thousands of dollars from my clients?

I mean, it's not like it hard to find a zip file of all the premium typefaces via torrent or one of the many sharing sites, what makes you think getting them from GitHub is such a terrible thing?

> Would you rather make a few hundred bucks from me or thousands of dollars from my clients?

They'd rather make many hundreds of thousands of dollars from enterprise font users. The business is not really designed to be convenient to smaller companies.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact