Special characters' input methods

How does one writes ß? What about λ or π or ∩ or ⊥ or ∪? Do you know all HTML entities by heart? What about mathematical symbols that do not have names, but just codes?

Assuming many browsers are Unicode-capable, should not we start using Unicode wider?

Are there any client-side Unicode helpers out there? Some dropdown that allows one to pick a symbol from a chart? A subset of couple of charts would be enough (like this one: http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U2200.pdf), I don't think natural alphabets (and other non-alphabetical "natural" writing systems) should be covered.

If such utility is not readily available, and there are enough supporters of the idea, I will volunteer to do what I can.

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Emacs's Input Methods seem like a very good solution to this general problem.

Another option is to just assign some empty bindings on your Super or Hyper modifier keys to insert the characters you care about. :-)

Some Tcl/Tk tools

Richard Suchenwirth has created some little Tcl/Tk scripts over the years to deal with unicode, such as this one which could be easily adapted to what you want, if I understand you correctly.

I meant a browser-side gimmick :)

Actually I meant something like Windows character picker, written in Javascript to be shared by all users of LtU... Must have been too sleepy when composed this yesterday...

Remember classic LtU UI? There was a toolbar for frequently used formating options. While not flawless, I found it useful. Could we revive it and/or also provide a drop-down for frequently used special characters?


I understand now. I was thinking you wanted to use unicode characters in programs, like this:

I really have to start playing with this Unicode support in SBCL.


Could we revive it and/or also provide a drop-down for frequently used special characters?

Yes, we will. I won't make a time prediction now since they've been somewhat less than accurate in the past, but things like comment RSS and the Drupal upgrade (which addresses a number of little enhancements) and the above are in the works.

This don't help but...

A link I find useful for the HTML special characters is over on tunes: HTML special characters and symbols.

Also of interest might be Pike's History of UTF-8.

Which doesn't answer any of your questions. Might help to find out how the APL crowd contends with not having most of their useful operators on the keyboard (though Iverson's solution in J was to map most of the glyphs to two ascii characters).

GNOME Character Palette

Under GNOME, there's the Character Palette, a little applet that can live in the panel; you get a menu, and each option is a set of characters. Click on a character to copy it to the clipboard. Not perfect (if I were writing regularly in something other than English, I'd hate it if this were my only option), but a pretty good tool when there's a wide range of characters that you need occasionally.

For an example of a Web-based UI that includes such a palette, see the proofreading interface at Distributed Proofreaders.

You mean the Mac OS Character Palette?

FWIW, a drop-down Character Palette comes standard with Mac OS X. I suspect that it was the inspiration for the GNOME one, though that's only a guess. One of the action buttons is "insert" which acts as if you typed the currently-selected character. Sounds like one less step than copying to the clipboard. See Apple's feature description page.