Re: Proposal to encode an EXTERNAL LINK symbol in the BMP

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon Jul 24 2006 - 16:43:11 CDT

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    From: "Jukka K. Korpela" <>
    > The distinction between external and internal links can be important,
    > though often it's important just to site management, not to users, who
    > surf around the web and don't pay much attention to the "site" concept.

    Font support is not absolutely necessary, given that the character may be handled directly by the browser itself using its own internal font engine (which may include built-in glyphs, such as those used to display radio-buttons, mouse cursors, and many UI icons).

    In fact, I do think that browsers should come with a minimum support for a default internal glyph-based font that will emulate the missing characters in fonts. I note that Firefox apparently does that to support mathematical symbols, including many of the most recent ones, even though there's no font installed on the system that contain them all. it is in fact easier to do for symbols than for alphabetic scripts, and there are not too many symbols in the Unicode standard itself.

    So why not having browsers updated with their own internal symbols font, given that most symbols have simple rendering rules, and can be supported by basic vector graphics? If a font is installed and selected by the user, it will be used, otherwise the browser will use its internal default symbol font (possibly without advanced support for hinting).

    Think about maths symbols, arrows, and various geometric shapes. The variance of style is most often less important than the glyphs represented by those encoded symbols, given that for most symbols, it is the glyph appearance itself that defines the meaning, especially for ideographic symbols (I don't speak about Han ideographs, which we should better call sinograms, as they are no longer ideographs since long, and their visual style has evolved a lot, as well as their usage, i.e. syntax; today, most characters created are ideographs and there are a lot of them: just look at the many technical symbols we see everywhere, on products, on roads, in commercial catalogs and tourism guides, ... and even now, more frequently, in dictionnaries where they tend to replace some cryptic abbreviations! Some symbols introduced for PC softwares or on device buttons, have migrated to the web interfaces before being widely used in documents, attached to their meaning: see the ideograph for the telephone, the mail, the poll c
    heckmarks for OK and cancel, the pen and paper, the forbidden access indicator, the VCR and tape command symbols, the energy and recylcing symbols, the security hazard symbols, the speaker symbol, the empty and full sun symbol, the moon, the battery level symbols, and many other symbols introduced by modern standards from private organizations or industries or international bodies... During the middle ages, most ideographic symbols had religious or esoterical meaning, meaning that they were also associated with taboos or severe restrictions of use, limiting their global adoption, now they tend to be technological and made for universal use, and this is related to the evolution of interests in our societies, but this does not change the fact that those iconic representations tend to be used to replace text and are used like true ideographs).

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