What you need to know about character sets and encoding

This article is part of the sequence The Basics You Won't Learn in the Basics aimed at eager people striving to gain a deeper understanding of programming and computer science.

My last article was about different data types and some tricks with them. We talked a little about characters as well. However, working with them can be a little bit strange due to the presence of a fancy term in computing called encoding. Today, my friend asked me to go and fix the subtitles for his movies. He had been telling me that some strange symbols appear all the time. So he tried reinstalling windows and changing all sorts of options but nothing seemed to work. He clearly had no idea what an encoding is. However, I guess that is normal since he doesn't have a CS background. But there seems to be a lot of developers out there (me, including, in the old days) who don't know what encoding means. Surely, they might have heard of UTF-8, but what is it? We have ASCII right? Well, I am going to address the issue of encoding in this article as I think it is fundamental to anyone getting his hands dirty with programming and computing. It seems not many programming basics courses cover this topic in much detail.
Continue Reading

Site Footer