Finding "countersink" and other special characters

AppSheet uses a countersink icon ( ⌵ ) for dropdown menus:

Recently, I wanted to add an explanation about how to use my app and felt the need to use a special character with the same shape in my explanation. I didn’t know what to call it but found it on the following site:

https://shapecatcher.com

All I had to do was to draw the icon in order to see a fairly long list of special characters with similar shapes:

I’m posting here because there may be other AppSheet developers who would like to include the ⌵ character in an explanation but don’t know how to access it. Also, for future reference, if you are ever in need of identifying a character that you can draw but can’t name, “Shape catcher” may be a good tool for you.

P.S. If you’re interested in changing the appearance / font of some of the text in your app without using a format rule, you should know about this tip:

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Hi @Kirk_Masden,

Thank you for your post with some valuable tips. @TyAlevizos had also shared a sample app based on special character smileys in enums a week or two ago.

Thanks to all those useful inputs (including initial post by @Gerald_Kariuki) , I too dabbled last couple of weeks in Unicode or special characters and share what I experienced.

Incidentally, Google Docs does have bunch of unicode characters and even there you can search the unicode by drawing the character. The option in Google Docs is available under Insert --> Special Characters

I believe , with AppSheet now being part of Google cloud, using the special characters from Google Docs could be natural option. One can copy those characters from Google docs and use in Enum etc. simply like normal characters.
image

I believe the unicode characters could be nicely used in Yes/ No enums , star ratings and possibly in other enum options ( an example of vehicles and grades is shown below) Even the RYGB status below is consisting of unicode characters for those colored circles.
A table summary view is shown below. All fields except Status description are composed of unicode characters.

Below is the forms view

Some observations

  1. Since these special characters are treated simply like other text characters by the computer systems, we can directly use them in expressions that is not possible with image icons. For example, in the above image, the Status description column’s expression is
    IFS([Status]=“:large_blue_circle:”, “Before time”, [Status]=“:green_circle:”,“On time”, [Status]=“:yellow_circle:”, “30 minutes delay”, [Status]=“:red_circle:”, “1 hour delay”)

  2. I could not think of uses other than in enum buttons. I believe may be we can have more meaningful use in dashboards. The reason being in summary /detail/ form views etc, intricate characters such as truck, minivan , pizza , pasta may not look good due to small sizes. We may to some extent take care of this problem by having format rule to increase their size in Enums etc.

  3. Finally some earlier mobile OS versions may not show all the characters.

Hope this observations help in some way and community colleagues will come out with more imaginative use cases.

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@Suvrutt_Gurjar This is amazing! I would love to see an example app if you feel like sharing. Also, would love to see if a workflow embedded expression correctly “re-unicodifies” from appsheet to (for example) a PDF in an email attachment. E.g. does this expression actually render the unicode in a PDF:

<<[SomeRandomUnicodeField]>>

I could see some beautiful reporting as a result. Great work! -Ty

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Hi @TyAlevizos,

Thank you.

Here is the public app link Unicode Demo

Please let me know if it is accessible.

You have a very valid suggestion of testing how the special characters move from say app to the PDF. I had tested it with a unicode check mark characters in some other app and it had worked. However you are right that a more comprehensive test can be done. I will take it up and keep posted.

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Wow! I really appreciate the very valuable information you shared, @Suvrutt_Gurjar! You didn’t double the value of my initial post – I think you tripled or quadrupled it!! :slight_smile:

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By the way, I tried the interface on Google docs and it has some advantages that shapecatcher.doc does not. For one, it works well with Japanese as well as English. On the other hand, Google didn’t give me that same countersink character when I drew it but it did give me the right character when I typed in “countersink.” So, perhaps people searching for special characters should check out both.

I was able to find some of the unicode characters you have in your app but couldn’t find the green checkmark.

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I can confirm that - using defaults generated by appsheet - a report renders in an email body BUT NOT IN PDF attachment, e.g.:

as opposed to:

womp womp. Can someone cross post to “bug reports” please?

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Thank you @TyAlevizos for your testing. Yes the PDF reports do not seem to format the unicode characters except check mark.

I believe I will create a feature request.

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I’ve been trying to understand why UNICODE, which is intended to eliminate encoding issues across platforms, can have encoding issues of the type we have been discussing. I still don’t understand the problem well but this page helped a little:

The page includes the following (I’m only copying the headings, not the explanatory text):

If UTF-8 has all the characters and can replace all the codes, why do we still encounter encoding issues ???

  1. Change takes time
  2. The specificity of Microsoft Windows
  3. The BOM (Byte Order Mark)

For now, I’m going to throw in the towel on this one but I hope AppSheet can figure out how to help developers use special characters and characters from various languages with confidence.

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This is a known Problem. And I don’t know if AppSheet can fix this. Because this has to do with the PDF rocket web service they are using to create the PDF.
It may work with Microsoft Word Templates.


Adding @Phil

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Thank you @Fabian for referring to your and @Phil’ s informative discussion on the subject.

As suggested, I will try with Microsoft Word template and keep posted.

Edit: I tested with Microsoft Word template. The MS Word template also does not return any special characters except checkmark in converted PDF report. For check mark, it returns the symbol in black and not in green as in original symbol.

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I’m not perfectly sure, but it will be difficult to display EMOJI stuffs on PDF out of template.
The possible workaround is to output the report in the form of HTML from Appsheet workflow and send as attachment to user.

Upon receipt of email and attachment, open the file in browser. (In HTML, all Emoji appears perfectly.) Then print the pages using local printer and output type as PDF.

This retains Emoji, but color is gone, all grey out.

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Thank you @tsuji_koichi for this useful suggestion.

FYG, I have been using Emoji for a long while, but mainly used beside the field (column) name. Go to “Display name” for column and add Emoji code into it along with proper text and string. It looks a tiny icon beside the field name.

Little decoration to the app appearance.

You may know this trick, but just in case.

@Kirk_Masden

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I have created a feature request for displaying special characters in reports. Request upvote suitably.

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Voted!! :slight_smile:

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Another thread about emoji is under discussion:

People interested in this topic should check it out. :slight_smile:

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All these goodies is not possible in many desktop DBMSs.

Cheers, and may the AppSheet be with you !

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