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I feel like a dick

Of course, I don’t mean that literally… not in the “craving dick” way you’re probably expecting me to. Nevermind.

Got an email from one Nathan Sharfi this evening expounding the value and, indeed, wonder of Unicode. Not in so many words, but he did take me on a magical journey: explaining the wonder of my keyboard’s Option Key along the way. OS X, being a thoroughly–Unicode–friendly operating system, lets you type a great variety of Unicode “special” characters from your keyboard using the oft–neglected Option Key modifier. Option–Semicolon? Product: Ellipsis. Option–Underscore? Product: Em Dash. I’m impressed.

What does this mean to the average web developer? And why have I never been told this before? With reference to my ampersand rant, it means that I may never have to deal with HTML entities again; it lets me put those special characters straight into my documents. This assumes that my HTML documents declare their text-encoding to be Unicode, which they do; and assumes that the end–user’s web browser is capable of viewing Unicode characters, which they are. Internet Explorer 4 (yes, version four) on Windows 98 is capable of rendering Unicode characters (which is why I dare say with such authority that most User Agents are capable of such feats) and the same goes for Netscape 4. This blows me out of the water, since Netscape 4 can’t even render HTML entities correctly. That’s it. I’m sold. Thank you very much Signor Sharfi, I salute you.