Frequently Asked Questions      contents
What is Unicode?

To save a text in electronic form, each letter is given a numeric id or code. Historically there are plenty of incompatable "code tables" to encode a plain text, each vendor or nation was using it's own since computers become available. Though main English alphabet has only a single US-ASCII standard (small subset of Unicode) for encoding text in electronic form by now, other languages are less lucky, so you often see a garbage on the screen when computer program fails to guess encoding or even if you just use more fancy punctuation characters.

The demand for universal solution has become more strong since widespread use of the Internet and globalization. This is how Unicode appeared and become popular. There is a number assigned for each letter, or symbol, or part of the symbol, called "glyph", used in the world. There are 17 so called "plans" 65536 numbers each, i.e. up to 10FFFF, or 20-21 bit that can be used for glyphs. Though not all numbers are in use right now - only 94140 are defined in Unicode version 3.1.

Nowdays the Unicode has become the only encoding recognized as universal, and all programs and protocols are being adopted for Unicode. Most newer programs can use it without problems, though there still are older ones dragging behind.

You can find more information at the page of Unicode Consortium.



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