Home > coding > Decorate your thoughts my dear : Unicode 8 supports 1051 Emojis

Decorate your thoughts my dear : Unicode 8 supports 1051 Emojis

unicode-monkey-face Have you noticed how email subjects, chat messages and other traditional “plain text” content more and more often contains smileys, ideograms, pictograms and other funny symbols?

For example, you can probably see the faces of mouse, bull, cat and monkey right here: 🐭 🐮 🐱 🐵

These expressive tiny pictures are also known as Emojis and can be seamlessly mixed into the letters, numbers, punctuation marks and few traditional “special characters” that most of us know from the computer (or even typewriter?) keyboard.

This is possible because on todays digital devices all of us, whether we know it or not, use an international standard called Unicode that supports all letters and symbols from all official languages and writing systems on our planet (and even Klingon, by the way). And as an extensible standard, Unicode keeps growing and recent versions have increasingly incorporated non-alphanumeric symbols.

For example, there is a whole Unicode block of smileys and cat faces that was added in Unicode version 8 to incorporate a set of symbols that Japanese mobile carriers had already added to the Shift JIS character encoding: 😀 😁 😂 😃 😄 😅 😆 😇 😈 😉 😊 😋 😌 😍 😎 😏 😐 😑 😒 😓 😔 😕 😖 😗 😘 😙 😚 😛 😜 😝 😞 😟 😠 😡 😢 😣 😥 😦 😧 😨 😩 😪 😫 😭 😮 😯 😰 😱 😲 😳 😴 😵 😶 😷 😸 😹 😺 😻 😼 😽 😾 😿 🙀

With the now ubiquituous support of Unicode by computer operating systems, internet services and mobile devices, we are no longer limited to the 90° tilted “ASCII emoticons” using character sequences like :^). With Unicode we can use emojis as single symbols of their own right.

This leads to the question how to enter emojis using your keyboard, be it a physical computer keyboard or through the on-screen touch keyboards on your modern mobile devices. It is possible, with varying degrees of convenience on Apple, Android, Windows or Mac computers and many other devices.

Unfortunately, UI level emoji support on GNU/Linux systems is practically non-existent which effectively limits Linux users to copy/paste from “cheatsheets” or the official Unicode 8 charts with their 1051 emoji and symbol codepoints.

One tip for Debian based systems: Make sure to have the Droid and Symbola fonts installed:

sudo apt-get install ttf-ancient-fonts fonts-droid

Then you can write a chess game for the text console using these Unicode glyphs from the “Miscellaneous Symbols” Unicode block: ♔ ♕ ♖ ♗ ♘ ♙ ♚ ♛ ♜ ♝ ♞ ♟

Or roll the dice: ⚀ ⚁ ⚂ ⚃ ⚄ ⚅

PS: All characters in this blog post are ok to recycle ☺ : ♲ ♳ ♴ ♵ ♶ ♷ ♸ ♹ ♺ ♻ ♼ ♽

As always, please feel free to respond in the comments section below.

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