• ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange

  • A character has 7 bits of information. Apparently bytes in a computer were composed of 7 bits at that time.

  • encoding = 'ascii'


(Kindly copied from https://www.overcoded.net/ascii-table-512119/)

ISO Latin 1 (ISO-8859-1)

  • Bytes have 8 bits of information, nowadays

  • One bit is wasted

  • Latin Europeans (and Germans) said, “Hey, lets use all 8 bits and cram bloody umlauts and all that in”

  • ASCII on steroids

  • encoding = 'iso-8859-1'


(Kindly copied from https://www.htmlhelp.com/reference/charset/latin1.gif)

And Python?

  • str is Unicode

  • Sequence of Unicode Code Points

    • To differentiate the concept from characters (which are generally thought of as having eight bits)

    • Size of a code point is irrelevant (if at all defined)

    • Enough room to contain all Chinese character sets, for example

    • “One encoding to rule them all”

  • Python programs (usually) use strings internally

    • No encoding mistakes

Liebe Grüße, Jörg

Python strings are Unicode ⟶ all fine (but see later) …

>>> s = 'Liebe Grüße, Jörg'
>>> type(s)
<class 'str'>
>>> len(s)

Is that ASCII? Probably not:

>>> s.encode(encoding='ascii')
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
UnicodeEncodeError: 'ascii' codec can't encode characters in position 8-9: ordinal not in range(128)

A Better Encoding for Liebe Grüße, Jörg: ISO-8859-1

>>> enc = s.encode(encoding='iso-8859-1')
>>> enc
b'Liebe Gr\xfc\xdfe, J\xf6rg'
>>> type(enc)
<class 'bytes'>
>>> len(enc)
  • Bytes: 8 bit entities, not Unicode characters of transparent character size

  • ISO-8859-1 is a single byte encoding ⟶ 17 bytes, just as the Unicode character count in the original string.

>>> 0xfc, 0xdf, 0xf6
(252, 223, 246)

Aha. Lookup in table:







Encoding Mess

>>> s = 'Liebe Grüße, Jörg'
>>> enc = s.encode('iso-8859-1')
  • Send enc in an Email (which is a chunk of bytes)

  • Somewhere in Russia, receive Email (ISO-8859-5 is their ASCII on steroids - the Cyrillic alphabet in a single byte encoding)

>>> received_enc = enc     # receive Email
>>> received_enc.decode('iso-8859-5')
'Liebe Grќпe, Jіrg'

And 祝好, Jörg? (1)

祝好 is Chinese, for “Liebe Grüße” (kindly taken from here)

>>> lg = '祝好'
>>> len(lg)

After all, it’s two Unicode code points

>>> lg_enc = lg.encode('big5')
>>> len(lg_enc)
  • Big5 is one of many Chinese character sets.

  • Apparently multi-byte ⟶ 4.

And 祝好, Jörg? (2)

  • Mixed string?

  • No, it’s all Unicode

>>> name = 'Jörg'
>>> bye = lg + ', ' + name
>>> bye
'祝好, Jörg'
  • Write that out

  • Need to choose an encoding

>>> bye.encode('iso-8859-1')
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
UnicodeEncodeError: 'latin-1' codec can't encode characters in position 0-1: ordinal not in range(256)
>>> bye.encode('big5')
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
UnicodeEncodeError: 'big5' codec can't encode character '\xf6' in position 5: illegal multibyte sequence
  • Hell!

Enter UTF-8

  • Wikipedia

  • Variable length encoding

  • Compatible with ASCII

>>> bye_enc = bye.encode('utf-8')
>>> bye_enc
b'\xe7\xa5\x9d\xe5\xa5\xbd, J\xc3\xb6rg'
  • A-ha: “祝好” takes 6 bytes in UTF-8

  • A-ha: “ö” takes 2 bytes (as opposed to one in Latin-1)

  • A-ha: “J”, “r”, and “g” have the same ordinal as in ASCII (not shown here)

One encoding to rule them all

Boundary Code

  • Python code deals with strings internally ⟶ Unicode

    • Mixing Chinese with German is the norm

    • Technically, this is not mixing, because it is … well … Unicode

  • When strings leave Python at the boundary, they are converted into binary data ⟶ encoded

    • Explicitly, using str.encode()

    • Implicitly (⟶ File I/O, Web, E-Mail)

Ah Yes: decode()

  • Same is true for the opposite direction: bringing bytes into a Python program, at the boundary

  • Explicitly, using str.decode()

  • Implicitly

>>> bye_enc.decode('utf-8')
'祝好, Jörg'
  • Of course this is not restricted to UTF-8

And Source Encoding?

Interactive interpreter (as used in those slides)

  • Uses whatever encoding the terminal is set to be in

  • Linux is all UTF-8, nowadays

Source code

  • Dogmatic rule: source code is 7 bit ASCII, comments and variable names are in English

  • Breaking the rule leads to encoding mess

  • Solution (if you really want)

    # -*- coding: utf-8 -*-


cluster_python Python Programming: From Absolute Beginner to Advanced Productivity cluster_python_misc Python: Miscellaneous Topics cluster_python_basics Python: The Language Fundamentals python_misc_encoding Encoding python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview Datatypes python_misc_encoding->python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview python_basics_python_0320_strings_methods Miscellaneous String Methods python_misc_encoding->python_basics_python_0320_strings_methods python_basics_python_0300_strings More About Strings python_basics_python_0300_strings->python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview python_basics_python_0200_sequential_types Sequential Datatypes python_basics_python_0300_strings->python_basics_python_0200_sequential_types python_basics_python_0250_refs_flat_deep_copy References, (Im)mutability python_basics_python_0300_strings->python_basics_python_0250_refs_flat_deep_copy python_basics_python_0110_blahblah Blahblah python_basics_python_0140_variables Variables python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview->python_basics_python_0140_variables python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview_compound Compound Datatypes python_basics_python_0200_sequential_types->python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview_compound python_basics_python_0130_syntax_etc Syntax etc. python_basics_python_0140_variables->python_basics_python_0130_syntax_etc python_basics_python_0320_strings_methods->python_basics_python_0300_strings python_basics_python_0250_refs_flat_deep_copy->python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview python_basics_python_0250_refs_flat_deep_copy->python_basics_python_0140_variables python_basics_python_0250_refs_flat_deep_copy->python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview_compound python_basics_python_0120_helloworld Hello World python_basics_python_0130_syntax_etc->python_basics_python_0120_helloworld python_basics_python_0120_helloworld->python_basics_python_0110_blahblah python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview_compound->python_basics_python_0150_datatypes_overview