Chronicle Software Web

Single Page, All of Unicode

I cannot think of a single greater stress test for modern document processing software and their file standards than what I bring to you today: the entirety of the graphical unicode symbol collection displayed on a single-page PDF file. Sounds fucking dangerous, right? Yeah…

I have a real obsession with Unicode, in case you haven’t already noticed. Specifically, I’ve always been compelled to find tools that would help me use it more in all types of digital writing – from text messaging to book manuscripts in Word, hopefully by both enabling such use and also theoretically to simply keep Unicode on my mind, considering how disappointingly absent the traditional library has been in any conversation at all.1

If you’ll remember, I wrote a brief review in June, 2018 of one of my top three iOS applications of all time and unquestionably the most beautiful manifestation of a Unicode reference utility I have ever seen: Unichar:

…here is an iOS app that actu­al­ly address­es a reg­u­lar issue of my own in a beau­ti­ful and intu­itive way. I actu­al­ly can­not remem­ber the last time this hap­pened — you’d have to give me a list and a com­pre­hen­sive refresh­er of all the ways I’ve used my iPhones in the past ten years.

⨃🄝ɨ∁ɧ⍙℟ for iOS Review” – June 22, 2018

Now, in addition to Unichar’s sole developer, Jordan Hipwell, I would like to submit developer Taro Yabuki into the running for Digital Expression’s Hero of The Season Award because of his authorship of a single page containing all graphical Unicode characters. Naturally, upon first discovering the document, I first tried opening it in a web browser, which takes a while. I then moved on to Adobe’s Acrobat PDF viewer, where I immediately (and irresponsibly) prompted the software to read the entire document aloud. Naturally, it crashed immediately.

  1. I suppose you could say I believed in the original promise of graphical unicode symbols: they were supposed to be the standard that finally helped digital publishing explore its potentials for extra-alphanumeric symbology since it would (theoretically) be so much easier to do so (read: possible at all.)