W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-svg@w3.org > October 2011

Re: Emoji Unicode

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 21:04:20 +0200
Message-ID: <1656054045.20111003210420@w3.org>
To: "David Dailey" <ddailey@zoominternet.net>
CC: "'www-svg'" <www-svg@w3.org>
On Sunday, October 2, 2011, 2:49:49 AM, David wrote:

DD> Does anyone know how to get the Unicode version of Emoji
DD> characters (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji or
DD> http://www.edibleapple.com/2008/10/06/iphone-22-update-has-emoji-icons-japanese-rejoice/
DD> ) to actually display? Is there a font I’d have to install to see them?

As with all newly standardized characters, you need a font that supports them, at the correct code positions, to see them. Otherwise you will see the 'missing glyph'.

This faq on emoji and dingbats may be helpful:

specifically "there is no way based on character code alone to tell whether a character should be presented using an “emoji” style; that decision depends on context". ie styling.

DD> Are these characters available anywhere as an SVG font? TTF?

Apple has a (static, bitmapped) color emoji font in OS X Lion,
and this is gradually being supported by tools,eg

Microsoft has emoji font support in Windows Phone Mango (the new mobile OS).
See also this typophile thread

DD> Are the colors and gradients a part of the Unicode definition, or
DD> does Unicode merely encode path geometry (like WOFF)?


Unicode does not describe the glyph at all (for any character). They standardise the code position and the character properties (like whether it is upper case,whether it is a numeral, whether it is rtl or ltr or neutral directionality, etc).

The code charts do illustrate these with sample glyphs, but these are not normative. As an example, there is a sample glyph for the latin lowercase "a" but the actual glyph can be the curly one with a handle or the round one without a handle (or indeed whatever other formis appropriate).

in particular
and for the character properties, see

in UnicodeData.txt for example you will see


and the meaning of that is documented here

specifically, Someans it is "a symbol of other type",the "0" means that its combining class is "Not_Reordered: Spacing and enclosing marks; also many vowel and consonant signs, even if nonspacing",and so on. (the ;is a field separator,and the absence of a value means that the character has the default value).

DD> The Emoji character sets distributed through mobile phones appear
DD> to come with gradient definitions, implying perhaps another use case for SVG fonts over WOFF?

Or indeed SVG glyphs inside Opentype, served as WOFF. See Adam Twardoch's proposal at

DD> the canonical set of
DD> semantic primitives might not consist of monochromatic path
DD> geometry alone, but rather of richer colored, textured and even
DD> animated objects.

The semantic primitives are characters.

In a visual representation, characters are represented by glyphs.

DD>  That that animation should be borne
DD> declaratively and proximal to the object rather than as a style or
DD> script seems self-evident,  if so. 

Yes, I would expect that good glyphs for emoji would use a font technology that provides multicolour (preferably, parameterisable colour rather than hard-coded) and animating glyphs.

I would be interested to see SVG glyphs for an emoji font. Anyone working on that?

 Chris Lilley   Technical Director, Interaction Domain                 
 W3C Graphics Activity Lead, Fonts Activity Lead
 Co-Chair, W3C Hypertext CG
 Member, CSS, WebFonts, SVG Working Groups
Received on Monday, 3 October 2011 19:04:20 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Wednesday, 7 January 2015 15:29:49 UTC