Last week, we released Insert Special Characters, a plugin that brings a special characters menu to the new WordPress block editor.
The new WordPress editor (aka Gutenberg) introduced a modern, block-based paradigm for visually authoring content. For all of its advancements, a button to insert special characters was not carried over from the classic editing experience—a feature critical to writers and publishers frequently using mathematical notation or other symbols. Feedback concerning its absence and some client questions inspired our Open Source Practice to take action.
With our new plugin, special characters are accessed through the block-level text formatting menu. A search filter enables writers to quickly narrows the character set. Developers can extend the plugin to pre-filter available characters and stylize the menu.
We leveraged an open-source React library as the core component of the plugin’s integration into Gutenberg. In working with the React Character Map, we identified potential improvements and contributed back to the project.
We plan to add keyboard navigation through the menu for accessibility, and have offered a code change (pull request) for the React library to improve the baseline character sets, and will be working to align future character sets to the Unicode standards.
We welcome pull requests and spirited, respectful debates.