The Basics of Unicode

We’ve posted a number of things in the past about Unicode. From 30-minute epileptic movies to a brief Unicode introduction video (which has been one of our most popular YouTube videos), the subject has yielded great interest. I wanted to recycle an old article written by Lingoport President, Adam Asnes, as a sort of introduction to the basics of Unicode.

Unicode is essentially a global dictionary of tens of thousands of characters. It allows for companies to create applications and websites that are translatable and eliminate any need to redevelop the same site or app over and over again in a different language. Remember that when you boil down software, you reach the binary level of zeros and ones. This mapping of zeros and ones is what’s called character encoding. The issue arises when there are not enough zeros and ones to represent accented characters or the more complex characters of Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Unicode solves this problem by creating an extended character encoding map, creating a more manageable translation process. No longer are we in the bad old days when websites and applications based on different languages needed to be developed independently.

The full article, including a more technical approach, can be viewed here:

Unicode: the Movie

Programmers and developers recognize Unicode as a superset of characters from nearly every language in the world and as a necessary standard to oblige to.  Unicode represents a set of of over 109,000 characters. While that number is impressive, the visual representation of that many characters is simply astounding. I came across a video on YouTube that flashes one Unicode character per frame; it lasts over 30 minutes. Watch the video for about 30 seconds, and you’ll get the idea.

Also, Lingoport‘s Adam Asnes shares how Unicode came into being and how it is a valuable tool for developers to develop in other languages.