adam's grump of the day: icons in fonts (was Re: web-assets-httpd stuck in limbo?)

Chris Murphy lists at
Thu Jan 16 17:49:01 UTC 2014

On Jan 16, 2014, at 10:13 AM, Adam Williamson <awilliam at> wrote:
> At least in a toolkit you can implement the kind of thing suggested on
> the Firefox bug, but still - does this look like awesome pseudo-code to
> you?
> if $thing is Unicode character;
>    render_unicode($thing);
> OH OOPS EXCEPT if $thing is special magic Unicode code point;
>    render_unicode($thing, font=special_magic_font);

Special casing things is broken.

It seems like giving users a knob to affect the presentation of pictographs, as they're allowed to do with glyphs by changing the typeface, is wrong. For pictographs to display correctly the browser can't allow the user to override what typeface is being used.

I don't know who sneezed snot over all of this first, but I know it was working with Webdings circa 1998. Granted, designers were probably the first in saying they didn't want to use a typeface everyone else was using, they wanted their own custom pictographs. Well, fine, but then they have to be defined with a webfont that can't be overridden. I'm not sure why this is so difficult, it doesn't exactly seem like rocket science - but then it'd also be like the lunar module team casually deciding to send a yacht to the moon without informing any other team. Maybe basic cooperation is just spectacularly difficult in this area.

Chris Murphy

More information about the devel mailing list