This weekend in San Diego was Pride weekend, an amazing celebration of love and acceptance geared mostly toward the LGBT crowd, but — in my experience — accepting of anyone who wants to come have a good time. The rainbow flag emoji would have been a nice addition, and I actually went searching for one at one point only to come up completely blank.
This morning, Mark Davis, a Google employee and President of the Unicode Consortium — the organization that handles existing emoji as well as the release of new ones — and suggested a simple hack that could allow the group to implement a rainbow flag before the next emoji release — scheduled for June 2017.
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Because existing Unicode characters are used, vendors can begin design and implementation work now and can deploy before the end of 2016, rather than waiting for Unicode v10.0 to come out in June of 2017.
To sum it up, Davis is essentially suggesting that Unicode could combine two existing emoji — a blank flag and a rainbow — together using a process called zero-width joiner (ZWJ) — the same process used to create varying skin tones for emoji.
Since it’s technically possible to do this with existing emoji, we could actually see a rainbow flag before the end of 2016 instead of waiting for Unicode v10 next year. We’re still in the dark about whether the consortium will consider the move, but the suggestion does carry a certain amount of weight coming from its president, Mark Davis.