Ornaments and Unicode

Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 469
edited October 2015 in Technique and Theory
Does anyone have a good list of unicode values for ornaments, dingbats, piece borders, and other non-type glyphs? The ones I'm Googling all seem pretty thin. 

Related: what are best practices for adding ornaments to a typeface when they have no unicode values?

Comments

  • Thanks, John. This is really helpful.

    Not sure how to think about the question of how I anticipate the ornaments being used—is there more than one way?  I do want to make it easy to compose borders and cartouches out of modular pieces, as in the old metal days.

    Part of me wants to go old school and add a separate ornaments font to the family, and map the ornaments (and especially the border pieces) to letters and numbers for easy access thru single keystrokes: a, b, c, 1, 2, 3.  The pdf specimen would provide a keyboard layout, and when the pdf went missing, the glyph palette would serve as backup.  This is probably a dumb idea, but can you tell me why it's dumb?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,954
    A separate ornament font definitely isn't a dumb idea.
  • John Hudson told me I wasn't dumb!  My day is improving.
  • Is there a best feature to use if you want to use OpenType key/letter combinations to make symbols/ornaments. I feel like I've seen fonts where certain key combinations combine to make arrows, etc. but can't recall what OT Feature they utilize for this.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,014
    edited October 2015
    I released a comic book typeface this year with ornament shortcodes. I figured the kind of people using it probably aren't typographers but would be likely to use ornaments quite a bit.

    ((swirl)) a coil...handy for obfuscating curses
    ((zigzag)) an angry vertical scribble
    ((skull)) a skull and crossbones (solid version in the bold styles)
    ((scribble)) a criss-cross scribble
    ((cloud)) a white cloud with lightning (black cloud in the bold styles)
    ((scrawl)) or ((scribble2)) = a long, horizontal scribble. (angrier in the bold styles)
    ((lightning)) a lightning bolt (solid version in the bold styles)
    ((!!!)) A cluster of three heavy exclamation points (solid version in the bold styles)
    ((knife)) a dagger (solid version in the bold styles)
    ((star)) a big star (solid version in the bold styles)
    ((star2)) a medium star (solid version in the bold styles)
    ((star3)) or ((stars)) two small stars (solid version in the bold styles)

    I coded it so it'll work in a dozen languages. If you type ((crâne)) instead of ((skull)) and you'll get the same result.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,954
    Care should be taken not to confuse key combinations with character or glyph combinations. Keystrokes, like other input systems, are entirely arbitrary mechanisms to input character codes, either individually or multiple characters. The character codes are then mapped to default glyphs via the font cmap table, and then OpenType Layout GSUB features and lookups map to variants, ligatures, or decomposed elements. So OTL is happening two steps removed from input.

    As a general rule, if an element of text has any semantic value then it should be encoded in the text with an appropriate Unicode character code. So I think it is a mistake for fonts e.g. to use GSUB to map the sequence - > to an arrow glyph, rather than using the arrow character code →.

    If an element of text does not have semantic value, e.g. an ornament, or is not suited to standard character encoding, e.g. a logo, then really it doesn't matter what mechanism is used to input, store or display that element.
  • Ray, I thought shortcodes were just a WordPress thing. Are they more broadly applicable?
  • You could also use the unicode values for geometric shapes http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U25A0.pdf
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    So I think it is a mistake for fonts e.g. to use GSUB to map the sequence - > to an arrow glyph, rather than using the arrow character code →.

    I respect what John is saying, but this is a popular approach. I believe {dlig} is a reasonable feature for this.

    To provide such a shortcut and still respect underlying encoding, as John advocates, one could duplicate the encoded uni2192 (arrowright) glyph as unencoded uni002D_uni003E and use the latter as the replacement for the {dlig} substitution.

    (I suppose hyphen_greater would probably also be an acceptable AGLFN name.)



  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,954
    To provide such a shortcut and still respect underlying encoding, as John advocates, one could duplicate the encoded uni2192 (arrowright) glyph as unencoded uni002D_uni003E and use the latter as the replacement for the {dlig} substitution.

    Since the only purpose of the parseable glyph names is Acrobat text reconstruction from GIDs in PDFs distilled from print streams, and presuming that the arrow glyph exists in the document because the author wanted an arrow glyph, I think the duplication is unnecessary, and that if one feels one must use {dlig} in this way, then the best thing to do is to map directly to the /uni2192/ glyph.
  • I agree with John; in general avoid using substitutions (and if you do there is no point in duplicating a glyph for this purpose) to provide easy access to characters with semantic value.


  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,014
    @Max Phillips  I borrowed the shortcode term from Wordpress; I like the sound of it.
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