unicode / emoji in documentation (was Re: Common situations where a bug isn't real)

Neal McBurnett neal at bcn.boulder.co.us
Wed Jun 18 14:19:03 UTC 2014

I'd like a better understanding of the Unicode issues here, with more specific guidance for documentation, etc.
And I want to start off giving an appreciation to the author of the pages who took the time to try to make them more engaging and fun, even though it seems it led to problems for some readers.

The term "emoji" covers a lot of ground, as seen at Wikipedia:


Some emoji are images, some are encoded as characters in the Unicode Private Use Area, and some have been standardized in Unicode as of 6.0 as of October 2010.

The wiki page that started this conversation was

It is moved now, but I seem to also see some emoji / unicode characters e.g. here:


some of them work in my browser (Chrome) but not in my editor (emacs).  I expect the user at least needs the right fonts, but I'm curious to hear that a firefox add-on also works - perhaps via some font wrangling?

Can someone clarify the support situation for at least these characters?  Does it work for me in Ubuntu Precise 12.04 using chrome because I have the font, and Chrome knows how to use the font?  Or is Chrome using some other approach to get them to work?  How would I determine that for a given character / image?

In general, non-ascii characters can be problematic under various circumstances.  I imagine that the doc team uses a wide variety of non-ascii characters to write documentation in various languages.

And, back to the topic, what exactly is the proposal for Ubuntu folks?

Is it to avoid using unicode characters that aren't widely supported on Ubuntu and popular cellphones, etc?  And certainly to avoid the private use areas?
How will authors know where the (moving) boundary is?

Or to avoid unnecessary graphics, especially when they involve such Unicode characters?


Neal McBurnett                 http://neal.mcburnett.org/

On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 07:24:29AM -0400, Thomas Ward wrote:
> > On Jun 18, 2014, at 7:17, Alberto Salvia Novella <es20490446e at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 
> >> On 18/06/14 09:25, Robert Park wrote:
> >> Maybe if this wiki was *only* for phone users then we could have Emojis,
> >> but the vast majority of Ubuntu users are on the desktop & server, so
> >> Emoji aren't a good fit.
> > 
> > Sorry, I don't understand that. Do you mean there's some further reasons than emojis not being displayed properly?
> > 
> > And, for clarifying: why shall I expect other Ubuntu users not to see emojis properly in their systems when I can seen them in mine?
> > 
> > Regards.
> Perhaps you're missing the point of emoji.  In phones they use some symbols in the ASCII/UTF-8 as the underlying symbols.  And while the emoji render correctly on phones a LOT of systems, 12.04 stock and 14.04 stock included (and I have tested this) don't display the graphics and only display the symbols.  Lubuntu does no rendering of them as images at all.
> That prevents the emoji from "working".  I agree the use of graphics is sound, but not Emoji.  Actual small sized pictures, understandable, but Emoji make no sense since not everything renders them as pictures.
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