Do emoticons even matter anymore?

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 11:08 PM | comments: 1

I actually got back to writing some forum code for the first time in about a week, and I decided to start tackling the text parser. Long time users of my sites know there are several bugs in the old version, and it has been the single worst thing to maintain evar. I loathe it. On one hand, I'm going to use an open source rich text editor, so what goes in will at least be a bit cleaner. I also don't have to worry about weird browser variations. On the other hand, I'd still like to support good old fashioned UBB-style code, and in fact it makes a really good intermediary step to validate what's allowed and what isn't.

That said, I was thinking a little bit about emoticons. You know what I'm talking about... the little graphical smiles and winks and what not. In this day and age, are they even worth trying to implement? I mean, people know :) when they see it, so why bother?

The thing that has become a pain in the ass over the years is that they're so damn hard to track. Over the years, the path to these things has changed, there have been variations on the underlying <img> tags, and they're just generally a pain in the ass. They could be parsed in real time, but I'm worried about the performance.

So I'm wondering if I should just eliminate them entirely. Any strong feelings?


Skydiving Jeff, August 11, 2010, 7:37 AM #

What about parsing the DOM in javascript and doing emoticon replacement on the client? Benefits are that you put no burden on the server, and if implemented correctly you'll have one function for the entire site -- if the path to the graphics change, you just need to make the change in one place. A minor con is that you'll need to wait until the DOM has finished rendering so users may see a slight delay before the emoticons appear, but that should be negligible.

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