A cup of ☕️ with your URLs

• ~800 words • 3 minute read

BIG OLD STINKING DISCLAIMER: The Open Source Emoji works great for getting visually-similar emoji to appear in your WordPress posts but most of my examples are completely broken because they're *not* the same characters as the Apple emoji I used to set them up. This is way too much of a headache for what was supposed to be a 15-minute blog post so I'm leaving them broken for now. The gist of the thing still stands: EMOJI URLS ARE KIND OF FUN.

Lately I've enjoyed using emoji in my day-to-day correspondence. Mostly it's to keep things silly and light-hearted but I've recently discovered some practical applications as well.

I've been planning a trip with my relatives to visit the old country (Prepare for future posts on familial misadventures in Serbia and Croatia!) in a couple weeks and we've been coordinating our various lodging situations. Mostly I wanted to differentiate between stops where extended family had offered to put us up and where we would need to be finding our own place to stay.

To clearly illustrate which situation to expect in each stop I used emoji like this:

[emoji hotel] Budapest
[emoji hotel] Subotica
[emoji family] Novi Sad
[emoji family] Belgrade
[emoji hotel] Split


It became a hit in our email chain and more were introduced as we talked about food[emoji meat], car rentals[emoji automobile] and other things.[emoji money][emoji poo][emoji octopus]

Later I recalled how I'd read about using emoji in domain names. The catch as I recalled was that most registrars would not allow it and not all TLDs would permit it either — namely .coms.

But it dawned on me there wasn't really anything stopping me from adding an emoji subdomain to a site I already owned... So I decided to do that:

[emoji hot beverage].snaptortoise.com

What's the secret to setting up an emoji subdomain? The secret is: there is no secret. It's exactly like setting up ordinary subdomains but, a little more fun and opens up some interesting possibilities!

For example, what if I setup a [emoji telephone] subdomain that, when opened on a smartphone, automatically prompted the visitor to place a call, kinda like this:

[emoji telephone].snaptortoise.com

Hmm! What other kind of subdomains could we explore?

[emoji briefcase].snaptortoise.com — A portfolio.
[emoji map].snaptortoise.com — A map or physical address.
[emoji pushpin].snaptortoise.com — A general "status" site or place to leave notices and notes.
[emoji money].snaptortoise.com — Where to send clients to pay bills.

And so on and so forth. It would also be a great place to hide a sweetie ([emoji heart]).

The bigger question though — Would these look better as subdomains or as subdirectories?

snaptortoise.com/[emoji hot beverage] vs george.mand.is/[emoji hot beverage]

Hmm. The latter is faster to setup. Visually and conceptually I think I might like it a little more as well.

A few notes about emoji, domains, browsers and WordPress, all in some combination:

If you're using Chrome on OSX 10.9 or earlier you'll want to get the Chromoji plugin otherwise you won't see anything. I'm not 100% certain why this bug has persisted as it seems like it would be a quick fix but it probably has something to do with Chrome's approach to font rendering.

While we're on Chrome — plugin installed or otherwise — you may notice a weird idiosyncrasy: typing emoji into the omnibox seems to render just fine until the domain resolves. At that point [emoji hot beverage].snaptortoise.com turns into something like xn--53h.snaptortoise.com, which you'll notice also works. This is a little insight into how character encoding works. Oddly, if the emoji appears after the domain (george.mand.is/[emoji hot beverage]) you'll see no such transformation.

If you're writing in WordPress in Chrome you'll the emoji don't render at all in the editor — even with the plugin installed — and, more troublingly, you'll find that saving your draft with emoji causes everything you wrote after the initial emoji character to disappear! That's a really, really, really shitty bug! If you track the duplicates on this bug I think it boils down to trying to remain backwards compatible with older versions of MySQL that would otherwise not support that kind of character encoding.

Fortunately there is a handy plugin available that fixed this issue for me: http://wordpress.org/plugins/emoji-emoticons/. However you'll have to write out all of your emoji using shortcodes instead of the system-level Cmd+Space shortcut.

For the love of everything holy do NOT use THIS plugin: http://wordpress.org/plugins/full-utf-8/. It totally borked my site and I had to SSH into it and manually move the plugin folder to even get the admin area to show up in the browser!