Change Log of fontaine (fontaine.el)

This document contains the release notes for each tagged commit on the project's main git repository:

The newest release is at the top. For further details, please consult the manual:

Version 2.0.0 on 2024-04-16

Control the fonts of more faces

This version brings a major expansion to the scope of the user option fontaine-presets. It can now control the font family and concomitant attributes of more Emacs faces. In particular, it covers the following additional faces:

  • mode-line-active and mode-line-inactive.
  • header-line.
  • line-number (from the display-line-numbers-mode or its global variant).
  • tab-bar (from the tab-bar-mode).
  • tab-line (from the tab-line-mode).

All the supported faces are stored as the value of the variable fontaine-faces. This is the complete list:

  • default
  • fixed-pitch
  • fixed-pitch-serif
  • variable-pitch
  • mode-line-active
  • mode-line-inactive
  • line-number
  • tab-bar
  • tab-line
  • bold
  • italic

Existing users do not need to update their configuration, as (i) the old values will still work and (ii) undefined values fall back to reliable known values.

This change empowers users to further configure their setup, such as:

  • Make the mode lines smaller than the main text.
  • Use a proportionately spaced font for the tabs, while retaining a monospaced font for editing.
  • Use a different font family for line numbers to differentiate them from the main body of text.

These are some possibilities. Then consider that different presets can change specify different configurations. For example, a coding preset can be all about small, monospaced fonts, while a reading preset may increase the font sizes and apply proportionately spaced fonts.

The doc string of fontaine-presets covers the technicalities, as does the official manual (shipped with the package or available on my website:

Thanks to Ashlin Eldridge for suggesting the inclusion of mode line and line number faces. This was done in issue 4:

Use the fontaine-mode to persist presets

The new fontaine-mode provides a convenience toggle to do the following:

  1. Store the current Fontaine preset before closing Emacs.
  2. Store the latest preset after using the command fontaine-set-preset.
  3. Persist font configurations while changing themes.

The purpose of storing the latest preset is to restore it easily, such as when starting Emacs. In the manual, we mention this in the sample configuration:

;; Set the last preset or fall back to desired style from `fontaine-presets'
;; (the `regular' in this case).
(fontaine-set-preset (or (fontaine-restore-latest-preset) 'regular))

This takes effect while starting up Emacs. So if, say, the user had selected a reading preset with fontaine-set-preset and then closed Emacs while fontaine-mode was enabled, the reading preset will be restored on startup.

Thanks to Adam Porter (alphapapa) for suggesting this in issue 2:

We used to provide code in the sample configuration which was doing what fontaine-mode does, though this is easier to set up (plus it is a toggle).

Deprecated the command fontaine-set-face-font

This command was used to interactively set the attributes of a face. It was not consistent with the rest of Fontaine's functionality, plus it was not faster than setting face attributes directly from Lisp (such as to test them, while experimenting in the *scratch* buffer).

The fontaine-set-preset-hook provides more options

The functions added to this hook are called after fontaine-set-preset. For example, users of my pulsar package can highlight the current line to not lose track of the cursor:

(add-hook 'fontaine-set-preset-hook #'pulsar-pulse-line)

I had thought about defining what Emacs terms "abnormal hooks", which are hooks that pass arguments to their functions. This hook would pass the selected preset, but I ultimately opted for the normal hook that run their functions without arguments. If advanced users have a good reason for such a feature, they are welcome to discuss it with me.

Fontaine now works with Emacs 29+

Emacs 29 is the current stable version and has been out for almost a year now. I do not have the resources to test/support older versions, sorry!


  • Updated the manual in light of all the aforementioned.
  • Simplified large parts of the code base.

Version 1.0.0 on 2023-02-11

Fontaine has been in a stable state for several months now. I am thus increasing the major version number to reflect this fact. Otherwise, this is a small release with only one sizeable addition.

Inherit the properties of another named preset

Preset font configuration can now optionally inherit (and thus extend) the properties of another named preset.

When defining multiple presets, we may need to duplicate properties and then make tweaks to individual values. Suppose we want to have two distinct presets for presentations: one is for coding related demonstrations and the other for prose. Both must have some common styles, but must define distinct font families each of which is suitable for the given task. In this case, we do not want to fall back to the generic t preset (per the default behaviour) and we also do not wish to duplicate properties manually, potentially making mistakes in the process. Fontaine thus provides a method of inheriting a named preset's properties by using the :inherit property with a value that references the name of another preset (technically, the car of that list). Here is the idea:

(setq fontaine-presets
         :default-height 100)
         :default-family "Source Code Pro"
         :default-weight semilight
         :default-height 170
         :variable-pitch-family "Sans"
         :bold-weight extrabold)
         :inherit code-demo ; copy the `code-demo' properties
         :default-family "Sans"
         :variable-pitch-family "Serif"
         :default-height 220)
         :default-family "Monospace"
         ;; more generic fallback properties here...

In this scenario, the regular preset gets all its properties from the t preset. We omit them here in the interest of brevity (see the default value of fontaine-presets and its documentation for the details). In turn, the code-demo specifies more properties and falls back to t for any property not explicitly referenced therein. Finally, the prose-demo copies everything in code-demo, overrides every property it specifies, and falls back to t for every other property.

In the interest of simplicity, Fontaine does not support recursive inheritance. If there is a compelling need for it, we can add it in future versions.

Bug fixes

  • Fixed a faulty setup for the :height attribute of the bold face. Using the commands fontaine-set-preset or fontaine-set-face-font with a prefix argument (C-u with default key bindings) does not produce an error anymore. The prefix argument limits the operation to the current frame.
  • Updated the Commentary section of fontaine.el to use the FONTAINE backronym I have had on my website for a long time. Namely, I changed FONTs Are Irrelevant in Non-graphical Emacs, which was cheating on a few letters, to Fonts, Ornaments, and Neat Typography Are Irrelevant in Non-graphical Emacs. What do you mean this is not a bug fix? 🙃

Version 0.4.0 on 2022-09-07

  • Made it possible for the user option fontaine-presets to cover the fixed-pitch-serif face. This face is used by the default Emacs faces in Info buffers to render inline code elements. A list of properties within fontaine-presets can thus look like this (the manual explains everything in detail—else check my current setup at the end of this entry):

       ;; I keep all properties for didactic purposes, but most can be
       ;; omitted.
       :default-family "Monospace"
       :default-weight regular
       :default-height 100
       :fixed-pitch-family nil ; falls back to :default-family
       :fixed-pitch-weight nil ; falls back to :default-weight
       :fixed-pitch-height 1.0
       :fixed-pitch-serif-family nil ; falls back to :default-family
       :fixed-pitch-serif-weight nil ; falls back to :default-weight
       :fixed-pitch-serif-height 1.0
       :variable-pitch-family "Sans"
       :variable-pitch-weight nil
       :variable-pitch-height 1.0
       :bold-family nil ; use whatever the underlying face has
       :bold-weight bold
       :italic-family nil
       :italic-slant italic
       :line-spacing nil)

    When the relevant attributes of fixed-pitch-serif are not specified, they fall back to the values of the default face.

    Note that fixed-pitch-serif is not used by my modus-themes and ef-themes because I think it looks awful out-of-the-box (a bitmap font on the GNU/Linux distros I used). One can still modify any face to inherit from fixed-pitch-serif, if they want to.

  • Introduced the command fontaine-apply-current-preset and wrote a relevant entry in the manual on how to "Persist font configurations on theme switch". Relevant quote from the manual:

    Themes re-apply face definitions when they are loaded. This is necessary to render the theme. For certain faces, such as bold and italic, it means that their font family may be reset (depending on the particularities of the theme).

    To avoid such a problem, we can arrange to restore the current font preset which was applied by fontaine-set-preset. Fontaine provides the command fontaine-apply-current-preset. It can either be called interactively after loading a theme or be assigned to a hook that is ran at the post load-theme phase.

    Some themes that provide a hook are the modus-themes and ef-themes (both by Protesilaos), so we can use something like: […]

  • The once private variable fontaine--current-preset is now made public by means of a rename to fontaine-current-preset. In practical terms, this tells advanced users that they can rely on the presence of this variable and/or on the fact that changes to it will be documented accordingly.

My current configuration as of 2022-09-07 17:56 +0300, which might give you some ideas:

(require 'fontaine)

;; Iosevka Comfy is my highly customised build of Iosevka with
;; monospaced and duospaced (quasi-proportional) variants as well as
;; support or no support for ligatures:
;; <>.
;; Iosevka Comfy            == monospaced, supports ligatures
;; Iosevka Comfy Fixed      == monospaced, no ligatures
;; Iosevka Comfy Duo        == quasi-proportional, supports ligatures
;; Iosevka Comfy Wide       == like Iosevka Comfy, but wider
;; Iosevka Comfy Wide Fixed == like Iosevka Comfy Fixed, but wider
;; Iosevka Comfy Motion     == monospaced, supports ligatures, fancier glyphs
;; Iosevka Comfy Motion Duo == as above, but quasi-proportional
(setq fontaine-presets
         :default-family "Iosevka Comfy Wide Fixed"
         :default-height 70)
         :default-family "Iosevka Comfy Fixed"
         :default-height 90)
         :default-height 100)
         :default-height 110)
         :default-weight semilight
         :default-height 140
         :bold-weight extrabold)
         :default-weight semilight
         :default-height 170
         :bold-weight extrabold)
         :default-weight semilight
         :default-height 220
         :bold-weight extrabold)
         ;; I keep all properties for didactic purposes, but most can be
         ;; omitted.  See the fontaine manual for the technicalities:
         ;; <>.
         :default-family "Iosevka Comfy"
         :default-weight regular
         :default-height 100
         :fixed-pitch-family nil ; falls back to :default-family
         :fixed-pitch-weight nil ; falls back to :default-weight
         :fixed-pitch-height 1.0
         :fixed-pitch-serif-family nil ; falls back to :default-family
         :fixed-pitch-serif-weight nil ; falls back to :default-weight
         :fixed-pitch-serif-height 1.0
         :variable-pitch-family "Iosevka Comfy Motion Duo"
         :variable-pitch-weight nil
         :variable-pitch-height 1.0
         :bold-family nil ; use whatever the underlying face has
         :bold-weight bold
         :italic-family "Iosevka Comfy Motion"
         :italic-slant italic
         :line-spacing nil)))

;; Set last preset or fall back to desired style from `fontaine-presets'.
(fontaine-set-preset (or (fontaine-restore-latest-preset) 'regular))

;; The other side of `fontaine-restore-latest-preset'.
(add-hook 'kill-emacs-hook #'fontaine-store-latest-preset)

;; Persist font configurations while switching themes (doing it with
;; my `modus-themes' and `ef-themes' via the hooks they provide).
(dolist (hook '(modus-themes-after-load-theme-hook ef-themes-post-load-hook))
  (add-hook hook #'fontaine-apply-current-preset))

(define-key global-map (kbd "C-c f") #'fontaine-set-preset)
(define-key global-map (kbd "C-c F") #'fontaine-set-face-font)

Version 0.3.0 on 2022-07-06

This is a stability release that introduces minor tweaks while formalising point releases which were already available to users.

  • Fixed a bug where a nil minibuffer history would produce an error while trying to set a preset.
  • Required the subr-x library at compile time. This is to avoid scenaria where if-let and friends are not known to the byte compiler. Such a problem was reported by Ted Reed concerning their Emacs 27 build:
  • Simplified the text of the minibuffer prompt for the default face. The marginalia package treats the candidates as faces when the word "face" occurs in the prompt. Generally that should be okay, though we do not want it in our case.
  • Documented a reference to the "devel" variant of GNU ELPA. This is for users who want to use a version of the package built from the latest commit instead of the last tagged release. Read:
  • Refrained from erroring out with fontaine-set-preset if Emacs is not in a graphical window (GUI) while the emacs --daemon is in use. The user-error is now limited to the case where a standalone frame is non-graphial and the daemon is not running (the error is that you cannot change fonts inside of TUI Emacs). Thanks to Florent Teissier for the patch!
  • Named the mailing list address as the Maintainer: of Denote. Together with the other package headers, they help the user find our primary sources and/or communication channels. This change conforms with work being done upstream in package.el by Philip Kaludercic. I was informed about it here:

Version 0.2.0 on 2022-05-09

  • Fontaine can apply its changes on a per-frame basis. One frame may, for example, use a preset of font configurations for the purposes of a "presentation" while the other has a "small" setup. Concretely, invoke the commands fontaine-set-preset and fontaine-set-face-font with a universal prefix argument (C-u). Without a prefix argument, these commands apply to all frames (as it was before).
  • The fontaine-presets accepts a special t preset which provides "shared fallback values" for all presets. The manual has a section titled "Shared and implicit fallback values for presets" which covers all permutations of fontaine-presets at length. The gist is that the user can write more concise presets. Thanks to Ted Reed for proposing the idea and testing my prototype in the mailing list:
  • Simplified the sample configuration on how to restore the latest saved value or fall back to a preferred preset. Thanks to Christopher League for proposing an elegant expression over at the mailing list:
  • The fontaine-latest-state-file is now handled by the package no-littering. Thanks to Christopher League for adding it there:
  • The new user option fontaine-font-families specifies the preferred font families that are provided as completion candidates of the command fontaine-set-face-font. If left to its default nil value, Fontaine tries to find relevant fonts from the underlying system, though this is not always accurate depending on the build of Emacs and where it runs in.
  • The doc string of fontaine-presets mentions some important caveats or information about font settings in emacs. Thanks to Eli Zaretskii for the feedback on the emacs-devel mailing list:

Version 0.1.0 on 2022-04-28

Initial release of the package. Please read the manual.

The core idea for this package was implemented in the prot-fonts.el file that is part of my dotfiles (now deprecated). I was using it at least since November 2020, though the underlying code was probably implemented at an earlier date.