Re: Comparison of emoji and emoticons

From: John Hudson (
Date: Mon Dec 29 2008 - 12:17:05 CST

Michael Everson wrote:

> I too am concerned about the font issue, and I have asked about the
> font. Peter said that something was under development. My subsequent
> queries (who is doing it, can I see a draft) have not been responded to.

I'm not remotely concerned about the font issue, because this is a font
that is only ever going to inadequately represent emoji and only going
to be used to illustrate characters in a chart in the Unicode book.
Unlike typical text characters, emoji rely on colour and in some cases
animation, so I don't think anyone is going to reference a Unicode chart
as a guide to what the emoji should look like. Frankly, I don't think a
font is even necessary, and it would make more sense for the telecom
corporations involved to host an indexed gallery of emoji and for
Unicode or other standards organisations to link to that. I think it is
unlikely that a font will ever be the mechanism by which emoji are
displayed on mobile devices, since this would require definition,
standardisation and adoption of a new font format capable of supporting
animated graphics as glyphs (The Photofont format supports colour
bitmaps as glyphs, but not animated, so far as I am aware). Even if
emoji continue to be transmitted as text -- which I doubt, because this
limits the extensibility and customisability of the set available to
users, whom I am convinced will want to create their own emoji --, they
are not going to be displayed on devices using the same font technology
as text. They are, and seem most likely remain, inline bitmap graphics,
and even if they are index-linked to character codes that shouldn't
mislead anyone into thinking that they must be addressable with font

The most recent edition of the Unicode book already dispenses with the
majority of CJK character charts. I see no reason why the same could not
be done for emoji, with the images hosted in a medium in which they can
be displayed in colour and with animation. The font seems to me a waste
of time and money, although I suspect whoever is making it is having
some fun.

John Hudson

Tiro Typeworks
Gulf Islands, BC
The Lord entered her to become a servant.
The Word entered her to keep silence in her womb.
The thunder entered her to be quiet.
             -- St Ephrem the Syrian

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