So. Something I linked to in a recent dailywebthing post sparked my interest and ended up helping me solve a little mystery that’s been bugging me for quite some time:
“Smart quotes,” the correct quotation marks and apostrophes, are curly or sloped. “Dumb quotes,” or straight quotes, are a vestigial constraint from typewriters when using one key for two different marks helped save space on a keyboard. Unfortunately, many improper marks make their way onto websites because of dumb defaults in applications and CMSs. Luckily, using correct quotation marks and apostrophes today is easier than you think.
As UTF-8 has become more widely used as the default encoding on the web, I’ve been troubleshooting problems with how some special characters appear when parsing RSS feeds with a PHP script. It’s the script I use on this site to show recent updates to various webthings. I also use the script (and fixed it) on another page I recently built for a friend (toot toot).
That site I linked to opened my eyes. It dawned on me that the old script I’d been using for years was written before PHP supported UTF-8. A few simple changes in the code fixed the problem. It no longer has ‘dumb defaults’ and I am now free to be smart. How liberating!
Moral of the story: Every day is an opportunity to learn new things.