Using Empty Characters to Test Connections

Whitespace characters play an important role in being able to read and comprehend information. Everyone knows that space between words, an indent, or an empty line between paragraphs is important. But did you know that you can also test connections within apps using them?

Different apps have unique policies on what is allowed in a message. For example, some allow no blank messages while others allow spaces, but no other characters. So, what do you do when you want to test a connection with someone but don’t want to give away your location? You use an empty character.

What is a Whitespace Character

A whitespace character is easiest to describe when visualizing a page of a book. Any of the spaces you see are whitespace characters, often referred to as empty characters. A designer or a code writer can use them to make a document’s typography easier to understand.

There are a variety of different whitespace characters, which all serve a specific purpose. For example, the space between words is a small whitespace character. Another example would be the tab key on a keyboard which creates a larger space.

Those are the more common examples but there are a lot of different empty characters that a programmer can choose from. Unicode allows these invisible characters to be used almost universally.

How Whitespace Characters Are Generally Used

Whitespace characters are used to control how text is displayed on a page. They can be used to create horizontal or vertical space within the page. This can be helpful when trying to align text or separate it into different columns.

Another use for whitespace characters is to create a blank line in between paragraphs. This can be helpful when you want to break up text and make it easier to read. Finally, whitespace characters can also be used to insert invisible symbols into a document.

How to Use Empty Characters to Test a Connection

When you’re testing a connection, you can use empty characters to send test messages. This is helpful because some apps don’t allow you to send blank messages by simply pressing space twice.

Each app will handle whitespace differently, so it’s important to test a variety of different characters. You can use spaces, tabs, newlines, and other special characters to see if everything is working properly.

By using different whitespace characters, you can determine whether the app is properly recognizing the character and is able to send it through the network.

Common Whitespace Characters

The Unicode Character Database has a list of empty characters that are widely accepted across the most popular applications in use today.

Here are 8 of the most useful whitespace characters to use.

  • Space – most common and creates a small gap wherever it is placed
  • Character Tabulation – commonly referred to as Tab on a keyboard
  • Next Line – creates a line break
  • Figure Space – Creates a space that is the same size as a character in monospaced fonts
  • Pseudo-Space – Similar to the figure space, but narrower
  • Non-Breaking Space – Prevents a line break from occurring
  • En Quad – A wide space that is four times the size of a regular space
  • Thin Space – Half the width of a regular space

When Should You Check a Connection with Empty Characters

Knowing what a whitespace character is you’re probably wondering why would you would test a connection using one. The simple answer is how easy it is. If you suspect that you are having connectivity issues. Here are a couple of troubleshooting tips to try.

First test whether or not you’re connected to the internet. The obvious way to do this is to open a website in your browser. If the website loads, then you’re connected. Another possibility is to open an app that requires an internet connection, like Google Maps or Facebook. If the app opens, then you’re connected.

But what if the app doesn’t open? In cases like this, it can be helpful to send a blank message to see if that fixes the issue. Think of it as if you are forcing a soft system reset, basically telling the software to do a basic task instead of continuing where it was.


Empty characters can be a valuable tool to help troubleshoot connectivity issues. Remember every app will handle whitespace characters differently, so you might need to test several of the different characters if needed. By using different whitespace characters, you can determine whether the app is properly recognizing the character as well as its ability to send it through the network.

The Unicode Character Database provides a wide selection of empty characters that can be used to test connections. If you’re having problems with an app being connected, try sending a blank message by using one of the many different types of empty characters available.

If you are still having problems with connectivity after sending a blank message, you may need to fall back on switching the device off and back on again.

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