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WordPress 4.6 to drop Open Sans in the admin panel

WordPress 4.6

After having used Open Sans for 3 years, WordPress will be using system fonts instead from upcoming release 4.6 – revealed by WordPress lead developer Helen Hou-Sandi in her commit message.

WordPress has been using Open Sans as the default font for their admin panel since WordPress 3.8. Consider the popularity gained by open Sans after having around for a number of years, it has become a  main feature in the WordPress Admin panel.

However, it will no longer included in upcoming release of WordPress.  The upcoming version 4.6 is going to drop Open Sans in favor of system fonts in  admin panel.

Helen Hou-Sandi commit message

Rejoice, for your admins will feel more native to your surrounding computing environment and likely load faster, especially when offline, as they no longer have to talk to The Google Overlord.

At the time of introduction in 3.8, there were not good system fonts common to all platforms at the time. In the years since, Windows, Android, OS X, iOS, Firefox OS, and various flavors of Linux have all gotten their own (good) system UI fonts.

There will definitely be visual bugs, mainly around alignment and spacing; these should be documented and reported on the ticket and fixed more atomically so that our current and future selves have a better understanding of what happened and why.

The style remains registered, as it is almost certainly in use by themes and plugins.

It is difficult to determine the motive behind this idea but it can be traced back to the Font Natively feature that suggested to use font system fonts in place of Open Sans. Font Natively described it as following:

When a visual and small screen admin refresh was introduced in 3.8 (by way of the feature plugin MP6), the admin font was changed to Open Sans to better complement the redesigned vector iconography. This change was not without its bumps or controversy, notably around extended character sets and that it is loaded from Google Fonts for a variety of reasons.

Instead of relying on an external resource, Font Natively moves the WordPress admin back to system fonts. This leads to faster load times, especially when working offline, a removal of a third-party dependency, and a more native-feeling experience as the lines between web experiences and apps continue to blur.

This may not be viewed as a big move in term of features enhancement, it will surely impact on users experience. It will affect on look and feel of the admin panel and may take some time before people get used to it.

Open Sans

What are the Advantages?

The top advantage will be the ability of WordPress to remove one more yet another third-party dependency. It will offer increase in web page load times and most importantly faster browsing experience to the users.

Moreover, it won’t affect your website front end page load times as many WordPress themes use various Google fonts to give you variety in choosing the optimal font for your website. It will only impact on your website back end – WordPress admin panel.

It may proves a good decision to go for system fonts, furthermore, considering the fact that Open Sans is not a MUST-HAVE feature in admin panel.

Conclusion

The decision to rely on system fonts for the admin panel does make sense and it will hardly get criticism from many people. The only sacrifice will be the lost of consistent look and feel across multiple devices. But within a short period of time, people will surely adjust the absence of Open Sans in the admin panel.

It may not be an ideal case for some folks who prefer to change system fonts on their devices. A better idea would be if WordPress comes up with settings where users can specify which system font to be used. Currently, it is not going to happen, but in future it can be!

What do you think about the idea of WordPress 4.6 dropping Open Sans in the admin panel in favor of system fonts? Share your views and feedback in the comments below!

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