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Subject: [Boost-users] Character Encoding (was: General C++: Class Method Signatures)
From: John Dlugosz (JDlugosz_at_[hidden])
Date: 2009-05-04 12:20:18

> Date: Fri, 1 May 2009 17:51:03 -0500
> From: Dominique Devienne <ddevienne_at_[hidden]>
> Subject: Re: [Boost-users] General C++: Class Method Signatures
> Miss-Match
> To: boost-users_at_[hidden]
> Message-ID:
> <255d8d690905011551v108b95c4sbfeaa21c443ac23e_at_[hidden]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 10:38 AM, Etienne Philip Pretorius
> <icewolfhunter_at_[hidden]> wrote:
> > Wide chars as far as I know are different from platform to platform.
> > Microsoft uses 16 bit wide chars while *nix uses 32 bit wide chars.
> And for
> > unicode I need at least 21 bits.
> It's not only a question of char size, the encoding matters. I don't
> know for sure, but I bet Windows' can represent all code points by
> using pairs of 16-bit wide chars (surrogate pairs). As long as you
> have a way to convert the current wstring instances to a know encoding
> like UTF-8, UTF-16 (bom, le, be), or UTF-32 for wire transport or
> persistence, the actual representation of wstring doesn't matter.

The Windows API uses 16-bit characters and calls it "Unicode".
Originally it was UCS2, meaning each code point was simply a 16-bit
unsigned integer. Later, they added some support for surrogate pairs,
which allows codes >64K to be represented as a pair of values. This is
now known as UTF-16. This only works for some of the text functions,
though. Much of the API and any casual handling functions will simply
count each 16-bit cell as 1 character unit.

So yes, if you are using the font-related functions to draw text, you
can represent any code point using UTF-16. But for opening a file, it
treats the name as a sequence of 16-bit values without any understanding
of surrogate pairs or duplicate meanings.

For manipulating wstrings in C++, neither the standard library wcs*
functions nor the wstring class deals with surrogate pairs. So if you
call wsclen, for example, you get the number of elements in the wchar_t
array, not the number of Unicode code points, if some of them are
encoded pairs.

> Of course I don't know what the encoding conversion methods would be
> for Windows and Linux and *nix in general. Does Boost.IOStream provide
> those in a portable fashion? I'd be interested on pointers on this
> topic if you know about those methods. Thanks, --DD

My limited knowledge is that Linux can use UTF-8 as the code page. Some
distros do that by default.

General pointer on this topic: When specifying a file or interchange
format, (1) use Unicode, and (2) specify the encoding or options

IMHO, manipulating strings as UTF-16 is neither here nor there. You
bloat the size if you are dealing with mostly Western language text, but
*still* have to deal with multi-unit sequences. So if you care about
characters, really, as opposed to just how much room do you need for the
representation, then use 32-bit characters (I call it "xstring") or
stick with UTF-8 if that's what's loaded/saved.

(mind the footer...)

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