The Funny Character Taskforce Rides again!

Amusingly I got a link to Joel Spolsky’s post on Unicode by one of my Italian colleagues. The punch line being that even though we both work for a European company (owned by a US company) we can’t seem to be able to put the accent on the last ‘o’ of his surname – which should be ‘ó’ – in the User Directory of the mail system.

It also made me remember that I’d had this post in my reading list for a long time. In essence the point being made is that complying to Unicode standards does not mean an implicit use of UTF-\d{1,2} although for some reason which escapes me, this is exactly what .Net and Java do by having UCS style chars which are 2 bytes wide (or wchar). Great. Why ?!

Anyway, the point, Unicode – support it, you aren’t an island, no matter what Ted says, even if you never release your code to a non-english speaking country use a platform that supports it so on the chance you do, you’re ready. Given the number of places that need this (Hint: it’s the majority!) it’s going to make sense at a programming language level and on your product. If you’re using XML and ASCII the chances are you’re converting from ASCII to UTF-8/16 to process the XML even if you’ve specified ISO-8859-1 (Latin 1). If an encoding to support Unicode is there, use it.

For those in Europe and pretty much anywhere else in the world, it’s a must. In the US, I guess you can afford to annoy Spanish speaking people, hey ?

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