Re: Draft 3 of the proposal to encode an EXTERNAL LINK SIGN in the BMP

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Sat Aug 12 2006 - 15:56:09 CDT

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    Philippe Verdy <verdy underscore p at wanadoo dot fr> wrote:

    > Not sure about this: it seems that these open/closed padlock symbols
    > are not technology neutral, and have applications only on the web or
    > computing terminals connected securely to remote sites through
    > unsecure networks. Would you find it elsewhere, for example in printed
    > books or papers or in PDF, except for documenting websites or in the
    > GUI of some terminal emulation software?

    Perhaps not. But there are plenty of characters in the U+23xx block
    ("Miscellaneous Technical") that are specific to user interfaces and
    other computer applications. Some were part of Unicode 1.0, but others
    were added in versions 3.0 and 3.2, under the present-day
    character-glyph model.

    > Well, the symbols for this function are not necessarily showing a
    > padlock ("cadenas" in French), we also find the glyph for only an old
    > metallic key (complete or broken), or sometimes a numbered rotating
    > button (like on strongboxes), or a strongbox with an open/closed door.
    > Over time, the browsers have changed the visual association of what is
    > really a visual indicator part of the GUI, and there may be some
    > browsers that use other clues so I'm not sure it is really a standard
    > for the function.

    Indeed, alternative glyphs may exist for this entity. This hardly
    proves that the entity is not a character.

    > So if the characters had to be encoded, I'm not sure that it would
    > persist with this association, and so it would only remain the glyph
    > which only represents the physical object itself. But given that
    > various glyphs are already used, how many symbols to encode? It may
    > even happen that in some future some hardware security tool may become
    > standard and have a better technological background, so that web and
    > GUI authors may want to adopt this symbol for its related stronger
    > security, possibly associated to a newer security standard replacing
    > HTTPS in some future and with which it would be desirable to give
    > users a visual distinction (for example the form of the chip contacts
    > on bank/credit/debit smartcards, or the logo of a newer international
    > security standard).

    We have U+239A CLEAR SCREEN SYMBOL even though the clear-screen function
    is associated with terminals which many members of this list consider
    hopelessly obsolete.

    Better names for the closed and open padlock might be SECURED SYMBOL and

    I'm open to arguments that these two entities are not really characters,
    but the argument that the preferred glyphs might change in the future
    doesn't convince me.

    Doug Ewell
    Fullerton, California, USA

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