Using Arrow Characters
Arrows are a very useful symbol to use.
(Some arrow characters are shown in figure 1. A more comprehensive list of arrow characters is shown in figure 10.)
I could use them when writing math, as in figure 2.
I could use them in programming languages, as shown in figure 3.
I could even use them on the command line, as in figure 4.
Also, I could use them in regular English text, as in figure 5.
I could even use them for creating diagrams, as in figure 6.
I am sure others can come up with more creative uses.
Restrictions from Keyboards
In some ways, the keyboards we use restrict our expressibility in terms of the symbols and glyphs we use.
In the part of the world I live in, typical computer keyboards have a limited number of symbols.
When I write with pen or pencil on paper, I don't really have this kind of restriction. (There is a lot more that could be said about this. Such as input other than from keyboard. But this isn't the place for it.)
While you can sometimes work around these keyboard restriction with varying degress of success, having more symbols and glyphs available can be better, in terms of expressiveness.
Arrow Keys on Keyboards
I think every keyboard I have every used has had arrow keys on them. I believe that if you look at typical English language keyboard you will see arrow keys, something like those shown in figure 7 and figure 8.
But, when the arrow keys are usable, in every application I remember using them in, the arrow keys are special keys that have a control functionality.
The arrow keys are often used move a cursor around when typing and editing text. They are also often used to navigate through menus. Also they are used for (both horizontal and vertical) scrolling. And sometimes they are use in video games to move a game character around in the game's virtual world.
I have never seen the arrow keys generate arrow characters when pressing them. (I.e., they do not generate the ←, ↑, → and ↓ characters.)
But they could! (And they could do this without loosing the ability to use them to move the the cursor, scrolling, etc.)
It is probably a bad idea to make the arrow keys generate arrow characters (←, ↑, → and ↓) when they are pressed by themselves.
Being able to move the cursor with the arrow keys when editing text is important in terms of usability. The same it true for their usage in scrolling, menu navigation, etc.
But, we have key combinations avaialble to use. For example, what if pressing the Alt+→ keys (together) generated the → character.
Really though, we have a number of possibilities available to us, to use for key combinations with the arrow keys.
Namely, the Alt, Ctrl, and Shift keys. Other keyboards may have other keys like these; for example, some keyboards have a AltGr key. But I believe there are others too.
Collectively these are called modifier keys.
Using the Arrow Keys to Generate Arrow Characters
One way to use the arrow keys to generate arrow characters (←, ↑, → and ↓), while still being able to use the arrow keys to move around the cursor when editing text, scrolling, etc is to combine an arrow key press with one or more modifier keys.
For example, perhaps pressing the Alt+→ keys generates the → character.
(Although, really, it doesn't have to be Alt+→ keys. It could be Ctrl+Shift+→ keys if you wanted. Etc.)
(But, whatever you choose) the same would be done for all the arrow characters.
So (sticking with our original example), we could generate all the 4 arrow characters we mentioned with the following key combinations shown in figure 9.
|Key Combination||Generated Character|
It is not difficult to make this happen is software.
More Arrow Characters
Beyond the 4 arrow characters we have been talking about (←, ↑, → and ↓) there are actually other arrow characters!
The list is shown in figure 10.
|Left and Right arrow||↔|
|Up and Down arrow||↕|
|Left Up arrow||↖|
|Right Up arrow||↗|
|Right Down arrow||↘|
|Left Down arrow||↙|
|Left arrow with stroke||↚|
|Right arrow with stroke||↛|
|Left wave arrow||↜|
|Right wave arrow||↝|
|Left two-headed arrow||↞|
|Up two-headed arrow||↟|
|Right two-headed arrow||↠|
|Down two-headed arrow||↡|
|Left arrow with tail||↢|
|Right arrow with tail||↣|
|Left arrow from bar||↤|
|Up arrow from bar||↥|
|Right arrow from bar||↦|
|Down arrow from bar||↧|
|Up and Down arrow with base||↨|
|Left arrow with hook||↩|
|Right arrow with hook||↪|
|Left arrow with loop||↫|
|Right arrow with loop||↬|
|Left and Right wave arrow||↭|
|Left and Right arrow with stroke||↮|
|Down zigzag arrow||↯|
|Up arrow with tip bent Left||↰|
|Up arrow with tip bent Right||↱|
|Down arrow with tip bent Left||↲|
|Down arrow with tip bent Right||↳|
|Right arrow wth corner bent Down||↴|
|Down arrow with corner bent Right||↵|
|Anticlockwise Top semicircle arrow||↶|
|Clockwise Top semicircle arrow||↷|
|Left Up arrow to long bar||↸|
|Left arrow to bar over Right arrow to bar||↹|
|Anticlockwise open semicircle arrow||↺|
|Clockwise open semicircle arrow||↻|
|Left harpoon with Up barb||↼|
|Left harpoon with Down barb||↽|
|Up harpoon with Right barb||↾|
|Up harpoon with Left barb||↿|
|Right harpoon with Up barb||⇀|
|Right harpoon with Down barb||⇁|
|Down harpoon with Right barb||⇂|
|Down harpoon with Left barb||⇃|
|Right arrow over Left arrow||⇄|
|Up arrow left of Down arrow||⇅|
|Left arrow over Right arrow||⇆|
|Left paired arrows||⇇|
|Up paired arrows||⇈|
|Right paired arrows||⇉|
|Down paired arrows||⇊|
|Left harpoon over Right harpoon||⇋|
|Right harpoon over Left harpoon||⇌|
|Left double arrow with stroke||⇍|
|Left and Right double arrow with stroke||⇎|
|Right double arrow with stroke||⇏|
|Left double arrow||⇐|
|Up double arrow||⇑|
|Right double arrow||⇒|
|Down double arrow||⇓|
|Left and Right double arrow||⇔|
|Up and Down double arrow||⇕|
|Left Up double arrow||⇖|
|Right Up double arrow||⇗|
|Right Down double arrow||⇘|
|Left Down double arrow||⇙|
|Left triple arrow||⇚|
|Right triple arrow||⇛|
|Left squiggle arrow||⇜|
|Right squiggle arrow||⇝|
|Up arrow with double stroke||⇞|
|Down arrow with double stroke||⇟|
|Left dashed arrow||⇠|
|Up dashed arrow||⇡|
|Right dashed arrow||⇢|
|Down dashed arrow||⇣|
|Left arrow to bar||⇤|
|Right arrow to bar||⇥|
|Left white arrow||⇦|
|Up white arrow||⇧|
|Right white arrow||⇨|
|Down white arrow||⇩|
|Up white arrow from bar||⇪|
|Up white arrow on pedestal||⇫|
|Up white arrow on pedestal with horizontal bar||⇬|
|Up white arrow on pedestal with vertical bar||⇭|
|Up white double arrow||⇮|
|Up white double arrow on pedestal||⇯|
|Right white arrow from wall||⇰|
|Left Up arrow to corner||⇱|
|Right Down arrow to corner||⇲|
|Up and Down white arrow||⇳|
|Right arrow with small circle||⇴|
|Down arrow left of Right arrow||⇵|
|Right triples arrows||⇶|
|Left arrow with vertical stroke||⇷|
|Right arrow with vertical stroke||⇸|
|Left and Right arrow with vertical stroke||⇹|
|Left arrow with double vertical stroke||⇺|
|Right arrow with double vertical stroke||⇻|
|Left and Right arrow with double vertical stroke||⇼|
|Left open-headed arrow||⇽|
|Right open-headed arrow||⇾|
|Left and Right open-headed arrow||⇿|
It could be useful to have all these avaialble. (Although finding ways to generated them from keyboards may a usability problem to solve.)