Cass-E Design

Design, Experiments, Games, Resources

ForkAwesome (& FontAwesome)

I just learned about ForkAwesome, a free and community driven branch of FontAwesome 4.7 that apparently started in February, 2018[2.1]. According to their website and the ForkAwesome GitHub[2], they branched FontAwesome from version 4.7 because of "concerns regarding the development ... and the direction" of version 5. They are attempting to maintain a community driven version of the project (ForkAwesome GitHub, [2]). When ForkAwesome split from FontAwesome, it had only 655 icons, and it's now grown to over 700.

For those not aware of FontAwesome, it's an online repository/collection of icons that you can link and add into any web platform (like websites or electron apps) with just a few lines of code. It is now approaching version 6, and has over 5,000 icons. They've added multiple icon sizes, duotone, better support for colours, stacking, and more. It's a truly incredible resource. Please tell me if you'd like me to write more about it!

FontAwesome/FortAwesome/Fonticons, Inc.

FontAwesome was started by Dave Gandy around 2012ish[2.1]. It's an easy online repository of icons for use in a multitude of online projects, with millions of users. Gandy maintained it on github directly until at least the 4.7 release in October 2016. It's my understanding that the project accepted community contributions until shortly before then. This period seems to be the model that ForkAwesome wants to emulate. Over time, the community and iconset grew. Gandy started Fonticons, Inc. in May of 2015 (OpenCorporates, [3]).

In late October 2016, Gandy launched Font Awesome 5's Kickstarter[4]. Notably, he and his new company redesigned all 600+ icons, and started requiring payed licenses. The licenses were tiered by page view counts and offered access to new premium features. Premium content included over a thousand new icons, and new icon styles, like outlined vs. solid. You can find a more complete list of changes in the FontAwesome 5 Upgrade Guide. They reference a 4 person team in kickstarter announcements[4], so I think it's likely that they created the FortAwesome GitHub organization around this time as well.

The creators of ForkAwesome believe that not every change in 5.0 was positive.

ForkAwesome & Concerns regarding FontAwesome development

ForkAwesome's readme states:

"Following concerns regarding the development of Font Awesome, the PR [Pull Request] Freeze since Oct 2016 and the direction Fort Awesome is taking with the version 5.0 of their project, we are forking Font Awesome (4.7), in order to build on this amazing tool Dave Gandy has given us, while at the same time allowing this project to be run by a distributed community of contributors."

ForkAwesome GitHub README.md, quoted September 4th, 2020[2]

In 2014, FontAwesome stopped accepting community contributed icon[7.2]. With the release of FontAwesome 5, they also stopped sharing their build process because it included payed icons[7.4.2]. The FontAwesome GitHub repository became as GitHub user xuv predicted, "a file hosting service for the free compiled version of this project,"[7.4.1] although it still houses icon requests & bug reports.

I can't find many specific criticisms of ForkAwesome besides some negative reactions to their no-submissions policy, and positive reactions to ForkAwesome's release & progress for being community driven and permissively licensed. However, its growth, the number of GitHub issues it's accrued, and the references to it which do exist on the web lead me to believe that it's been positively received.

The timeline, as far as I can tell:

Some Benefits

ForkAwesome is completely free for commercial use, open source, and licensed under OFL.[1] As the website notes, it's friendly to open source projects. FontAwesome at the time of writing offers their free license to projects with under 10 thousand pageviews a month, and only one seat/editor.

GitHub user trnwh comments about ForkAwesome logo coverage, pointing out that ForkAwesome contains logos from free and/or open source projects like archive.org, Arch Linux, xmpp, and others that FontAwesome "refuses to add." (Please Note: I couldn't find any reference to support actively "refusing" to add these icons. There are thousands of icon requests on the FontAwesome github page. A few have been open for almost 8 years. These have varying amounts of community/developer feedback). The Mastodon icon mentioned above has since been added to FontAwesome[7.3], while others have not.

Criticisms

I have seen but not confirmed criticisms that ForkAwesome 4 takes longer to download on websites. This may be especially true now that at time of writing, FontAwesome works with 'kits' and only downloads subsets of the font based on usage, where ForkAwesome aims for maximum freedom and compatibility and downloads the whole font.

In conclusion, check out ForkAwesome!

These articles are a result of my own research, and if you have a correction, addition, or other comment I'd be more than happy to hear it at my contact page. Credit will of course be provided.

References

  1. ForkAwesome Website
  2. ForkAwesome GitHub
    1. ForkAwesome's first commit, changing the readme by user xuv on February 4 2018
  3. OpenCorporates entry on Fonticons, Inc.
  4. FontAwesome 5 Kickstarter
  5. FontAwesome 5 Upgrade Guide
  6. FontAwesome GitHub Organization: Fort Awesome
  7. FontAwesome GitHub
    1. FontAwesome apparent first commit on February 17 2012
    2. FontAwesome GitHub Commit 71efac0, Feb 3rd 2014, no longer accepting icon requests
    3. FontAwesome GitHub Issue#10897, Feb 3rd 2014, requesting the Mastodon icon in FontAwesome. @xuv leaves his fork containing the Mastodon icon open for other users.
    4. FontAwesome GitHub Issue#12199, "Upgrading the master branch to Font Awesome 5"
      1. FontAwesome GitHub Issue #12199, @xuv concerns about community contribution
      2. FontAwesome GitHub Issue#12199, Maintainer comment on private build process
  8. GitHub user trnwh comment about ForkAwesome logo coverage

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