Unicode Is Really Getting Fashionable

Michael Kaplan called my attention the latest Unicode fashion accessory:


For those who don’t get it, that funny little question-mark character is what Mac users see when their computers don’t have the right font to display a given character (or if the Web browser gets a bit confused about what font to display). Just because Unicode allows you to display the world’s major languages on a Web page does not guarantee that your Web users have the right fonts on their end.

Windows users see blank boxes — and yes there’s a shirt for Windows users as well:


The shirts are available from Cafe Press. I wonder if I can get one in black…

Unicode In A NutShell

Here is a great article about Unicode and how it affects Web developers and programmers. Here’s an excerpt:

The Single Most Important Fact About Encodings

If you completely forget everything I just explained, please remember one extremely important fact. It does not make sense to have a string without knowing what encoding it uses. You can no longer stick your head in the sand and pretend that “plain” text is ASCII.

There Ain’t No Such Thing As Plain Text.

If you have a string, in memory, in a file, or in an email message, you have to know what encoding it is in or you cannot interpret it or display it to users correctly.

Almost every stupid “my website looks like gibberish” or “she can’t read my emails when I use accents” problem comes down to one naive programmer who didn’t understand the simple fact that if you don’t tell me whether a particular string is encoded using UTF-8 or ASCII or ISO 8859-1 (Latin 1) or Windows 1252 (Western European), you simply cannot display it correctly or even figure out where it ends. There are over a hundred encodings and above code point 127, all bets are off.

For the article, go to: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/Unicode.html

HTML and Unicode

Another useful Web globalization Q&A has been added to the W3C site. It has to do with the issue of character sets and encodings. I can’t even begin to describe how confusing this issue can be to Web developers as they begin tackling new languages — and new scripts. But is is something they will encounter more frequently. Fortunately, we now have Unicode.


What is the ‘Document Character Set’ for XML and HTML, and how does it relate to the encodings I use for my documents?

For the answer, go to: http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-doc-charset.html