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Sunday, October 18, 2020

HCL/IBM Notes does not work well with Segoe UI Emoji font family


Let's go straight to the example.

I send email from my Exchange mailbox to my IBM Lotus Notes mailbox and that email contains smiling icon.

Email source (in Outlook) looked like that:

<html xmlns:v="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" (cut some)>
<meta http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name=Generator content="Microsoft Word 15 (filtered medium)">
/* Font Definitions */
{font-family:"Segoe UI Emoji";
panose-1:2 11 5 2 4 2 4 2 2 3;}
/* Style Definitions */
<body lang=EN-US link="#0563C1" vlink="#954F72" style='word-wrap:break-word'><div class=WordSection1><p class=MsoNormal><span lang=NO-BOK>Bla bla bla </span><span lang=NO-BOK style='font-family:"Segoe UI Emoji",sans-serif'>&#128522;</span><span lang=NO-BOK><o:p></o:p></span></p></div></body></html>

Here it is what I got in Notes in READ mode (looked good)

However, as soon as I switched email to EDIT mode or clicked REPLY WITH HISTORY the icon disappeared and ? appeared instead.

I think Lotus Notes just does not how to deal with colorful "Segoe UI Emoji" font family but if you know how to fix that - please share. The main issue is that this is a common problem, I mean, if you try to create NotesMIMEEntity programmatically and put there HTML with &#128522; you will get the same result.

Updated later.

I tested this case more and found some new interesting details.

The email I used for demo above I received as an example from a colleague so when I described the case above I just played with already received email.

When I tried to create an email in Outlook myself and checked its source I didn't find there any HTML codes for the icons - instead I saw this - see below.

I sent the email above to my Notes mailbox.
It looked very good in READ mode and the icons were still usable in EDIT mode though they became black and white.

Read mode above

Edit mode above

So, obviously, the reason of the issue described on the very top is not related to Segoe UI Emoji font family. The reason is that Notes does not know how to render <span lang=NO-BOK style='font-family:"Segoe UI Emoji",sans-serif'>&#128522;</span> in Richtextitem in Edit mode. I do not know how that first email was created so that it contained HTML code &#128522; but it does not really matter.

Btw, the funny thing is that the same email in Gmail looks differently also :-)
Here it is the same email from outside - the last icon is black&white.

This is the same email from inside.


  1. I don't think the problem is with Segue UI Emoji font itself, it is with the lousy MIME to rich text conversion. If you have Windows 10, you will have Segue UI Emoji font on your computer and can set it in the message yourself. But when you reply or forward, you have to use the Notes rendering engine to convert from the HTML in the MIME message to a rich text, and it doesn't do well. (It will not help in this situation, but I think our Midas engine handles this kind of character properly when converting from MIME to rich text. I'll check and see to be sure.) The clue to the problem is that you got a question mark instead of a square box. If it were a square box, it would mean it could not display the character in that font, As it is a question, it means the original character was replaced, and thus lost.

    1. Hello Ben,
      I am completely agree.
      I will update my post with some new details of my tests in a few minutes.

    2. Not sure whether it helps any, but I suspect I know why you see the difference. The unicode character 😊 or its equivalent 😊 is actually not colored or rounded like that, but Microsoft and Google both translate those to more colorful emojis rather than simply displaying the character, much the way :-) is displayed as a smiley though it is a series of characters. HCL could follow their lead and define colorful emojis, but Notes is actually displaying the real character properly. There is no standard, so iOS probably has yet another way to display them.

    3. Sorry, I forgot that if I put it in as a code, it would be converted. Those are & # 128522 ; or its equivalent & # x1F60A ; without the spaces.

    4. Thank you Ben, yes, you are right, Google, Apple, Microsoft and their different apps - they all may have their own look for the same icon.

      To be honest, the whole story was about copying of Outlook email into Notes. I developed Outlook Add-in for this purpose many years ago and it worked well since then and only recently I've got the first complaint about the problem with smiling icon. You see, the most confusing part for the users is that getting question mark instead of smiling icon may change the meaning of the sentence. For example, you had in Outlook email something like "Thank you, your task is done :-)" and then yuo got in Lotus Notes "Thank you, your task is done?". So users were not sure if it was a question or just typo.
      At this moment I applied very straightforwad workaround - when I create NotesDocument based on Outlook HTML body I simly replace any occurence of "😉" to ";-)" and "😊" to ":-)". I understand that there are thousands of other icons which still may be shown as "?" but I think that icons like :-) and ;-) are the most frequently used.
      Will see :-) ....

    5. I did the same in my last comment.
      I meant:

      >>At this moment I applied very straightforwad workaround - when I create NotesDocument based on Outlook HTML body I simly replace any occurence of "&# 128521;" to ";-)" and "&# 128522;" to ":-)"

    6. It's probably the most logical solution for now. Shame that the MIME to rich text isn't better, but that seems to be an effort that HCL doesn't really want to take on.