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Emojis for favicons (response to Hannu)


First, a new album:

Glass Animals - Dreamland [youtube playlist]

This pyschedlic pop album came out two days ago and it's great. Not quite the same as their great previous one, but with a similar feel. Check it out! "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" is probably my favourite track.


Hannu's original post

Emoji favicon RFC from Mozz

But first: If you don't know about emoji favicons in Gemini, read the RFC above. Basically, it's an unofficial way to add favicons to Gemini domains, except using emojis instead. Create a file called favicon.txt at the root of your site, and put a single emoji in it, with no spaces. Having a single newline at the end is okay.

From Hannu's post:

> I dislike emoji, but there are nice characters in unicode. So I'm now serving favicon.txt with the character 𝖍. I'm not yet sure if any client displays that.


> I have two questions regarding the spec:

> 1) Why only emoji?

> 2) Why favicons at all?

I recently implemented emoji favicon support in Amfora's master branch, it will be in the v1.5.0 release. It's disabled by default, but you can enable it by setting emoji_favicons to true in the "a-general" config section.

Why only emoji?

The advantage of only allowing emoji, for Amfora anyway, is that I don't have to worry about where I put the favicon. Currently, the favicon replaces the tab number at the top of Amfora. Here's an example view of the tab row for when you have 3 tabs open in Amfora:

  1  |  2  |  3  |

And when the second tab is gemini://mozz.us, and emoji favicons are enabled:

  1  |  🐟  |  3  |

This is somewhat just a design decision of Amfora, but it's obvious to see how accepting any Unicode character could be confusing, like if someone used a number. This applies to graphical clients as well, because favicons being limited to emojis makes it easy to just put the favicon in the title of the tab or application, and still have it be intuitively obvious that it's the favicon. Also, due to the fact that they're obviously graphical/pictoral, they can easily mentally replace the favicons we are used to on the web. Using any Unicode character definitely shifts away from that idea.

Also, I find emoji fun and frivolous in way that the Ϩ character is not, for example. This is likely about that pictoral nature again.

Why favicons at all?

Well I can't speak for Mozz, but I think they're nice. Obviously it's completely a personal preference decision, on both the part of the server admin and the user/client, but I like them because I feel it adds just a touch of personal styling to Gemini, but still holds to the lightweight philosophy. I would be opposed to the RFC if it wanted to use images for example, but a single emoji is nice and small, and is easily supported in text only clients like mine.

I was looking during my research for adding this feature, and as far as I can tell, the largest single emoji is 29 bytes long, which means the largest allowed favicon.txt file is only 31 bytes (as of Emoji 13.0). Tiny!


Amfora, my Gemini browser for the terminal

The commit that added favicon support

Should I enable emoji favicons by default? It's a nice feature to have, but enabling it breaks the Gemini philosophy of one request per page.

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