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

From: Jukka K. Korpela (
Date: Tue Jul 25 2006 - 01:17:50 CDT

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    On Tue, 25 Jul 2006, Philippe Verdy wrote:

    >>> It seems to me that the character as proposed is a symbol found as a text
    >>> element in a wide variety of printed and on-line sources.
    >> By the way, could someone comment on the use of such symbols in
    >> right-to-left scripts? It seems to me that the proposed shape postulates
    >> left-to-right and top-to-bottom writing direction. This is one of the
    >> reasons why it looks like an iconic image rather than something definable
    >> as character.
    > Why do you think that? Couldn't the symbol be marked as mirrorable, and
    > sensitive to the writing direction, like the parenthese punctuation
    > signs?

    It could, but I think such issues haven't been considered; that's way I
    raised them. The abstract idea of an external link can be conveyed in
    different ways, and images with a square and north-east-pointing arrow
    looks like an iconic image related to particular writing directions.

    > The exact form of the arrow is also variable (sometimes thick,
    > sometimes thin, sometimes multicolored, sometimes outlined, sometimes
    > not...); what is really encoded is a abstract meaning.

    Unicode does not encode abstract meanings but characters, which sometimes
    have a very specific meaning, sometimes a very broad range of meanings
    (or, at the extreme, just their shape as the meaning) - and usually
    something in between.

    As noted in the discussion, _essentially different_ graphic symbols are
    used to present the abstract meaning of an external link. Some people
    think that one particular class of such symbols can be recognized as a
    character and should be encoded as a character. However, I would say that
    this would mean that the Unicode Standard would _create_ a new character
    rather than encode a character.

    For example, Google image search for "external link icon",
    shows a rather diverse collection of images. It's of course just a small
    sample (with some false hits as usual).

    Jukka "Yucca" Korpela,

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