Friday, 30 December 2011

Microblog Space (character) Saving

Take the following example two lines of text:
  • Fruit: apples, pears! Veg: cabbage, onions. Cars? Ford; Mini
  • Fruit:apples,pears!Veg:cabbage,onions.Cars?Ford;Mini
Line 1 has 60 characters and line 2 has 52 characters. I reduced the number of characters by using full-width punctuation characters. These full-width forms start at Unicode codepoint U+FF01. Using full-width forms I can dispense with the space character. So, for example, instead of colon + space I use full-width colon only. For microblog posts small space savings like this can be very useful.

I could, and sometimes do, use OSX Character Viewer to obtain these full-width punctuation characters. When I am microblogging in English I toggle to the Simplified Pinyin Input Method to write the full-width punctuation. This may sound complicated and time consuming but with a little practice it is easy and quick and does not disrupt the flow of writing. There is one exception character. When I type full stop whilst in the OSX Simplified Pinyin Input Method the ideographic full stop is produced rather than the full-width full stop. That is what I would expect and still saves me a space character. So, when I am microblogging I would write the example text, above, as:
  • Fruit:apples,pears!Veg:cabbage,onions。Cars?Ford;Mini
Sometimes I use my OSX Japanese Input Method for microblog punctuation. The one difference is that when typing comma the ideographic comma is produced. i.e.
  • Fruit:apples、pears!Veg:cabbage、onions。Cars?Ford;Mini
English is my primary language and, as such, my examples are in English. The same space saving technique can be used for any language/script that uses the standard ASCII punctuation e.g. Korean & Russian

My setup is OSX Lion with the standard Input Methods. I have setup a keyboard shortcut (Control + Space) to quickly toggle between a pair of languages. When microblogging my toggle pairs are English & Chinese or English & Japanese. Your setup may well be different to mine and you may well get different results to me. Whatever your setup, you will be able to use the Chinese or Japanese space saving punctuation characters.