Want to know: Use editor font in watch windows?

One of the recent requests in my post Wanted: Debugger User Interface Feedback was to allow the font of the watch window to be different from that of other toolwindows in Visual Studio like it was in version 6.0.  See the post for more details.


I agree that this is something we need to do; however, what is the default font we should use?  Should it be a proportional or variable-width font like Tahoma, Arial, or Verdana or should we use a constant-width font such as Courier?  VS7.0 has always used a proportional font, while VC 6.0 used Courier.


First, I'm just talking about default font here.  Though the current set of available bits don't allow the user to separately control the font in the debugger windows, it is something we're planning on before release. 


My current idea is to default to the same font as the editor.  After all, the watch and callstack windows both essentially display snippets of source, so why not use the exact same font as what the user is accustomed to seeing source?


What do you think?  BTW, be careful about stating that variable-width fonts use less horizontal space than constant width fonts.  This is not necessarily the case and is highly dependent on the fonts chosen for comparison!

Comments (4)

  1. Steve Workman says:

    I’m happy with the watch windows inheriting the font from the editor settings. I currently have both my editor and Text Output Tool Windows set to use 8pt Tahoma. (If a proportional font was good enough for the code samples in The C++ Programming Language, 3rd Edition, it’s good enough for me. 🙂 )

    The problem with this is that the *Memory Windows* inherit the setting (I believe from the "Text Editor" setting). A raw dump of memory is almost impossible to read with a proportional font. If just one debugger window needs its own setting for the font, this is it.

  2. Rick Preston says:

    I have always been partial to Andale Mono as the font in my IDEs (VS6, 7). It is a crisp constant-width font that *used to be* freely downloadable. I don’t know if that is the case any more. It has everything that I like about Tahoma or Verdana with the bonus of being constant-width.

    No matter what you end up choosing, though, giving the developer the ability to override that default is key.

  3. Jim Griesmer says:

    Hm. I got two responses. Thanks Steve and Rick! That must mean that the rest of you don’t use the watch window and therefore don’t care what font I make default.

    That’s fine by me. I’ll just make sure Steve and Rick are happy. 🙂

    And yes Rick, I fully intend (but can’t totally guarantee) that the memory window will have it’s own font settings by the time we ship.

    Additionally, I would like to mention is that I’ve recently been coding using a proportional font — Tahoma to be exact. And ya know what? I really like it. It makes my work feel… easier. Even if it isn’t. The only hangup is that end-of-line comments that I sometimes usually try to indent the same amount get messed up. But that’s probably because I typically use spaces rather than tabs for white space in my code.

    (Aside: Of course, spaces is always the way to go! Isn’t it?)

  4. Andrew Young says:

    This thread is a little old but I figured I’d add my .02. My font default font for the code editor, inspection window and immediate window in VS is Tahoma. The code editor took a few hours to get used to, but then I went through a 2-week period of "wow… tahoma" every morning. Try it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    Looking back at Courier New, it looks like something from the stone age. I always use tabs instead of spaces, and I avoid end-of-line comments (because a. they are largely dependant on the size of the font/tab width in the editor and b. I think they make the code more difficult to maintain). How about making Tahoma the default font? =)

    The best tip I have for other Tahoma coders is to hold control when you select text. It makes your life a whole lot easier.

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