Exploring browser-supported Unicode characters and a tweet shortening experiment

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I recently wanted to post something on twitter that was just slightly over the 140 chars limit and I didn’t want to shorten it by cutting off characters (some lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” that expressed a particular thought I had at the moment – it would be barbaric to alter Roger Waters’ lyrics in any way, wouldn’t it? ;-)). I always knew there were some ligatures and digraphs in the Unicode table, so I thought that these might be used to shorten tweets, not only that particular one of course, but any tweet. So I wrote a small script (warning: very rough around the edges) to explore the Unicode characters that browsers supported, find the replacement pairs and build the tweet shortening script (I even thought of a name for it: ligatweet, LOL I was never good at naming).

My observations were:

The tweet shortening script is here: http://lea.verou.me/demos/ligatweet/

I might as well write a bookmarklet in the future. However, I was a bit disappointed to find out that even though I got a bit carried away when picking the replacement pairs, the gains are only around 6-12% for most tweets (case sensitive, of course case insensitive results in higher savings, but the result makes you look like a douchebag), but I’m optimistic that as more pairs get added (feel free to suggest any, or improvements on the current ones) the savings will increase dramatically. And even if they don’t I really enjoyed the trip.

Also, exploring the Unicode table gave me lots of ideas about scripts utilizing it, some of which I consider far more useful than ligatweet (although I’m not sure if I’ll ever find the time to code them, even ligatweet was finished because I had no internet connection for a while tonight, so I couldn’t work and I didn’t feel like going to sleep)

By the way, In case you were wondering, I didn’t post the tweet that inspired me to write the script. After coding for a while, It just didn’t fit my mood any more. ;-)