Powerline symbols?

Mark E. Shoulson mark at kli.org
Mon Oct 11 19:35:20 CDT 2021

Ah, but that is precisely a question Unicode need not answer or worry 
about!  If the meaning changes, then the meaning changes, and maybe the 
name is obsolete.  But the character is still a character, and still the 
same one!

But Rick McGowan mentioned to me (off-list) the potential argument 
someone could raise that status lines don't count as "text" usage, which 
is a fair point.  Hence the sensible resistance to encoding the 
Powerline "triangle" characters.  To me, a prompt is more "text" than a 
status line, but not as much as true "text"; is it "text" enough?  I 
could totally see the branch symbol catching on as a conventional sigil 
for marking a version-control branch in email and conversation, which 
would be very texty indeed, but I can't say that I've seen that happen 
yet, so it doesn't count.  But we have other UI symbols already, like 
CANCELLATION X, MINIMIZE, MAXIMIZE, etc.  Is this really less worthy?  
Perhaps things will be considered differently when/if Rebecca can dust 
off that proposal and re-submit it.  Times change, maybe this is texty 
enough now.  Me, I think it probably is, but it isn't (and shouldn't 
be!) my decision.


On 10/11/21 20:15, Martin J. Dürst via Unicode wrote:
> The idea of making status lines and prompts more informative by using 
> color and various graphics looks very convenient. But what visual form 
> to use for what semantics is wide open to configuration and personal 
> preferences, and may develop in various directions as the idea catches 
> on further, which may mean that it's premature for encoding. But I'm 
> sure this has been discussed in the meetings mentioned below.
> Regards,   Martin.
> On 2021-10-12 08:16, Rebecca Bettencourt via Unicode wrote:
>> As you (Mark) discovered, the name originates from the piece of software
>> which first used these characters, called Powerline. It's a plugin 
>> for vim,
>> tmux, bash, i3, and several other environments that adds a fancy status
>> line to the terminal.
>> The characters have been proposed before, in document L2/19-068R2. 
>> The SAH
>> recommended encoding three of them (the branch symbol and the row and
>> column number symbols) but the UTC took no action. I vaguely recall a
>> recommendation (from the SAH?) for the author, Renzhi Li, to contact the
>> "Terminals Working Group" (Doug Ewell, me, and a few other 
>> individuals) to
>> work out integrating them into a "round 2" Symbols for Legacy Computing
>> proposal. We were never contacted by the author but we integrated 
>> them into
>> a "round 2" proposal anyway, with the suggestion to use the same code
>> points as were recommended by the SAH.
>> That "round 2" proposal was brought to the UTC but for some reason was
>> never added to the document register. We had an hour-long meeting in 
>> which
>> the UTC reviewed it and had several concerns that were not resolved 
>> within
>> that hour. The proposal has not progressed further since then.
>> -- Rebecca Bettencourt

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