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In current common usage, is there a Unicode character consisting of two arrows in a circle, or similar character that could convey 'synchronization'?

For instance something like: enter image description here

I browsed the Unicode table and tried http://shapecatcher.com but no luck so far.
These symbols are the closest I could find:

↷⎋⇄⟲☯♻

Note: I need a Unicode character for use in wikis and bug tracking. Using an image instead would be very cumbersome, and impossible with some tools.

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3  
What is wrong with ⇄? It is essentially the same thing you have the image of without the circular shaping of it. It expresses a two-way transfer of something between [side A] and [side B]. –  brnnnrsmssn Feb 26 '13 at 4:26
    
@brnnnrsmssn You are right about the two way tranfer, but for me the two straight lines signify more A goes to B at the same time that B goes to A. End of exchange. While the arrows in circle make me think of a constant exchange of informacion. A > B, B > A, A > B... Not sure if it needs to be this way for synchronization, just a personal observation. –  Yisela Feb 26 '13 at 8:31
    
At least with the flat arrows you can be assured that it is recognized in many default font sets, and you do not need to @font-face and/or combine characters. –  brnnnrsmssn Feb 26 '13 at 15:08
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Edit: Anything depending on unicode characters depends on a) what characters exist in the fonts available to the client and b) what characters and unicode features are supported by the browser. Both are generally pretty bad.

This is an example of something that works in Webkit browsers (Chrome, Safari... but not Firefox which mangles these characters) on a machine that has access to fonts that support a sufficiently wide range of glyphs (e.g. a Mac which comes with the Apple Symbols fonts).

Naturally it's only suitable if you can predict or control the machines your users are using. This might be okay if it's for a bug control system used by a small team. Definitely not for public consumption.

The benefit for this pretty hefty cost is, it's a way to get symbols into publishing systems like the ones described in the question where you can't add images, custom code, HTML markup, etc, only text characters.


⃔ (Combining anti-clockwise arrow above 0x20D4) is a diacritic mark in the group Combining Diacritical Marks for Symbols, meaning it appears over the previous character, like so⃔...⃔.. Or there's ⃕ which is the same thing going the other way...⃕..

You can therefore create a kind of sync symbol using nothing but unicode characters by using it after a suitable character going the other way.

Examples (note they're all live text you can copy and paste):

  • ⤻⃔ where ⃔ follows ⤻ Bottom arc anticlockwise arrow 0x293b is the obvious combination, but in the font and styling used on this site, they're too close together to be clear. You might be able to style it to look better.
  • ⤿⃔ where ⃔ follow ⤿ from the block Supplemental Arrows-B looks better in this font and style.
  • ⤾⃕ is the opposite of the above with ⃕ following ⤾ and doesn't seem to work so well.
  • ⤻⃛⃔ is an example of the sort of thing you can do by stacking multiple diacritics. This includes another of the 'Combining...for symbols' set. Since it's a diacritic that appears above its combining character, and it's between two arrows, it increases the gap, making the symbol clearer. It's the first I found that combined with the arrow and increased the height, you might find something better.
  • ↵⃗⃞  is an example using the square style, and can be made using followed by the diacritics and, optionally, if you want it in a box.

This gives you something resembling a sync symbol that works in common fonts like Arial, Verdana etc, using nothing but unicode characters (no additional HTML or CSS required).


Quick explanation of combining diacritics for anyone baffled: They're characters that modify the character before them. Diacritics are used a lot in European languages: for example one way to get an 'a' with an accent () can be made by typing a then ́.

Once entered on a computer, they combine with whatever went before them and are from there on treated as one character (and where a glyph already exists for that character combination, they're replaces with that glyph, a bit like a ligature). It would be annoying to need to hit delete twice to delete .

So, to make them, you have to enter a 'pure' diacritic after the character you combine it with. You can do this by copying from the 'pure' samples on sites I link to (though occasionally people maintaining those sites accidentally make mistakes and post 'used' diacritics), or, do whatever the normal method is for entering special characters on your operating system.

It won't work if you just copy the examples, as they're already combined with something (even if it's just a space).

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see my answer from half an hour ago - pretty much the same thing. –  MarcinWolny Feb 26 '13 at 12:11
    
They both include unicode characters... My answer explains how diacritics can be used to make something like ⤻⃔ or ⤿⃔ that, in the right font, resembles a sync symbol without needing to apply CSS3 (and therefore without needing a HTML tag or a complex browser-dependent selector to target just one character). A lot of people don't know about diacritics, so I thought it worth explaining and demonstrating. –  user568458 Feb 26 '13 at 12:25
    
I've edited it to get to the point quicker - hopefully that makes it clearer. –  user568458 Feb 26 '13 at 12:29
    
"They're characters that modify the character before them. They're used a lot in European languages" - European languages got their own characters. Noone is using combined diacritics like that. –  MarcinWolny Feb 26 '13 at 16:28
    
diacritics (typography term, predates computers) are used a lot in European languages... combining characters are one way (among many) of making characters with diacritics on digital systems. I'm not going to get sucked into a pedantic argument about this - I only included that analogy to help anyone struggling with the concept of one character modifying another character. –  user568458 Feb 26 '13 at 16:35
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  • ↱↲
  • ↷ over reversed ↷ (you can get that in HTML & CSS3, alternative characters would be ⃕)
  • ⃝ with ^ and reversed ^ put onto the circle to simulate arrows (again: requires CSS3 to mix&match these)
  • ѻ and hope noone will look too close ;)

Sorry, but there isn't a character that matches exactly your requirements.

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I kind of like the second bullet point. It appears to be two characters but it still works. –  brnnnrsmssn Feb 26 '13 at 15:05
    
@user568458 - no idea what you mean by that. I can't make it work like you describe. –  MarcinWolny Feb 26 '13 at 15:53
    
The problem with combining them is my font set does not support those combined characters so instead of arrows I see boxes and numbers. I however do not mind, and in fact kind of like the spacing caused by the separate characters. Not knowing what they look like as one I cannot judge that. –  brnnnrsmssn Feb 26 '13 at 16:12
    
@user568458 windows 7 pro, firefox, default typeface from page styling. –  brnnnrsmssn Feb 26 '13 at 16:21
    
@brnnnrsmssn I'd argue that using CSS for getting desired character is by far better way than suggested combined diacritics from Google Chrome, as it's far more robust when it comes to cross-browser support. CSS3 is by far more broadly accepted standard. Though obviously: If you don't use these for a website than there's no issue. –  MarcinWolny Feb 26 '13 at 16:32
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↺ arrow

↔ arrow

⇋ enter image description here

🔃 enter image description here

🔁 enter image description here

This question is really merely a matter of looking through the tables until you find a symbol which is acceptable. Then ensuring you have a font available which supports that character. On my system, unfortunately half of the above are not supported (at least not in my currently active font set). To that end, you may need to use @font-face and embed a font or some other method to ensure the user has access to the above characters.

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🔁 🔁 🔁 looks ideal but for the fact that few fonts seem to support it –  user568458 Feb 26 '13 at 11:59
    
@user568458 agreed.. I had to post as an image because it's not supported on my system. However, with a web font and @font-face it may be a solution. –  Scott Feb 26 '13 at 12:00
    
Actually seems like more of a browser inconsistency thing... comes up as empty boxes on Chrome, and as a blue heavily styled Sync/Refresh button on Firefox that is clearly nothing to do with the font. arrrrrrrggh... –  user568458 Feb 26 '13 at 16:29
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