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> If we could intergrate with keyboards, we'd definitely take advantage of it.

From my own personal experience this is extremely true. A while back I made myself a custom keyboard [0] which can enter lots of characters, mostly for linguistic tasks. I didn’t intend to start using it for things outside linguistics, but before long I was using it everywhere — and my inventory of available characters expanded correspondingly. I started to use curvy quotes and em/en-dashes in all my writings (even in this post!), and — more topically — I started using Unicode symbols in my programming, when possible. I don’t use them too much, mostly because there’s little need for them, but in scientific tasks it’s really useful to be able to type e.g. ‘λ’ instead of ‘wavelength’. I predict that as Unicode symbols become easier to input, programming languages will indeed start to utilise them more — the limiting factor is keyboard layout. (Indeed we can already see the start of this process in Julia, Raku and Haskell.)

[0] https://github.com/bradrn/Conkey




See also the Compose key: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compose_key.

I started using a Compose key under Linux five or six years ago. I have progressively accumulated fairly extensive customisation in my ~/.XCompose. (e.g. Compose+;+; = ‘, Compose+"+" = ”, Compose+"+` = ″, Compose+z+Space = ZWSP, Compose+Space+' = NARROW NO-BREAK SPACE, Compose+++1 = THUMBS UP SIGN), Compose+-+-+= = −, Compose+l+* = λ.) Some are of my own division, and some (like Greek letters) are copied from Vim’s digraphs which I had used commonly before setting up a Compose key. I consistently type exactly what I mean. (If I type a straight quote, I meant a straight quote.)

My last laptop ended up being a Surface Book; had WinCompose not existed, I wouldn’t have been willing to shift to Windows.


Check out https://docs.raku.org/language/unicode_ascii for an overview how Raku supports Unicode. And an article about its implementation from 2015: https://6guts.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/this-week-unicode-nor...


For anyone on Vim, you can insert lots of special characters by hitting Ctrl+K: =3 is ≡, -> is →, l* is λ, M- is —, etc. You can also run :dig! to see a list of all digraphs, and :help digraph for information on how to define your own.


And for those on emacs, you can change the input method. The one I use the most is the Tex one. so I can type \sum and things like that that gets translated to unicode immediately.


You can also use ^VuXXXX to insert characters by the hex Unicode value. I find that handy sometimes.


And you can put %B in your status line to show the Unicode value of what's under your cursor.


If I see a character I can't enter in someone's code, I think I'll run away. It's cool and all for your code, but sooner or later someone else is going to have to deal with it.


I think it matters who your audience is.

If your audience is mostly programmers then just use `*`

If your audience is physicists or mathematicians then `×` or `·` may be a better fit.

When turning a math expression into code, it is often handy if the code looks a lot like the expression. Even better if you can just copy and paste it. It's hard to translate an expression wrong if you aren't translating it at all.


I agree, which is why I avoid Unicode for anything someone else will need to type in, or at least give ASCII alternatives when possible. I use it mainly for things like local variable and parameter names.




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