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Unicode Explained Paperback – 1 Jul 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 680 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (1 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059610121X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596101213
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 3.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,289,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Book Description

Internationalize Documents, Programs, and Web Sites

From the Publisher

Possessing everything you need to grasp Unicode, this comprehensive reference takes you on a detailed guide through the complex character world. Learn how to identify and classify characters, utilize their properties, and process data in a robust manner. Other topics include collation and sorting, line breaking rules and Unicode encodings. Perfect for both beginning and seasoned programmers.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
You think you know about Unicode, and languages, and code pages. And then this thick tome lands on your desk and you realise just how much more there was to learn.

This is much more than a book about Unicode. Korpela goes further, explaining about code pages, writing systems, language differences, encoding, implementation issues, programming. Even after many years in this business, there was much that was new to me.

I do have a criticism, however: the book is from 2006 and as it contains a great deal of information about particular programs and operating systems, and URLs to web resources, some of this information quickly became stale. There is an online site which is supposed to contain updates and errata, but it is not being updated.

That aside, I would highly recommend this book if you need to work with languages on computers.
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Format: Paperback
A great book, but for me as a programmer (and base target group of this book) the only important part in this book is the third part. That as an overview, because it got so slow paced with the first two parts I had to take a break from part three; so that when I'll pick it up again I'll think of it as a totally different book.

Worth the buy, but not the size.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are unaware of the difference between UCS-2 and UTF-8, or even why Unicode is NOT an industry standard (it's an international one, which is diffrent), then this is a great introduction for you.

I had a tough technical problem to solve and didn't even have the correct vocabulary to describe it.
Of the three books I bought to help, this is the one I turned to most frequently.

The historical element is interesting, but the technical sections really aid understanding the various flavours of unicode, and what benefits can be had from a successful implementation.

This is now part of my reference library for technical issues, and I'm frequently being asked to contribute to character-based discussions, due to my new found understanding and the assistance I can now offer.

Well worth the time and effort to read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focus Surprisingly Practical 15 July 2006
By Brett Merkey - Published on
Format: Paperback
' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '

¶ I had another Unicode book on my desk for a long time. Hardbound, thick, impressive. Never found a way to derive useful information from it however. This book is different.

¶ I had high expectations for this book because the author, Jukka Korpela, is one of those erudite and patient people who work hard to raise the signal to noise ratio in Internet newsgroups and other forums. I certainly have quite a few posts from "Yucca" in my working archive of Web tips.

¶ Working with Web pages and applications, one can run into practical problems with text display. For Americans especially, often using default software configurations, some of the problems of displaying content in other languages can seem intractable. They are not of course -- but a bit of help from workers in the rest of the world can be a real lift. After all, they deal with these issues in a practical way more often.

¶ I had a nasty run-in (also known as "learning experience") with browser display issues when my "CSS Cheatsheet" rose in popularity in Google and other search engines. I decided to create a page quoting comments from linking sites in their native languages. Everything was fine until I got to Russian. I felt as if I were up against a conspiracy of browsers, tools, operating systems and even particular custom configurations!

¶ If you are like me and your focus is practical, I recommend:

The first two chapters in Part 1: Characters as Data; Writing Characters

All the advanced topics in Part 3: these 5 chapters covered character issues involved with programming and developing in the Internet environment.

¶ Overall, this book is well-organized and quite readable, with lots of relevant illustrations. Important material is repeated and summarized for greater clarity. The author also used lots of examples from Windows programs that are familiar to many of us. This is a real plus.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great reference for all that is Unicode (and it's more than you think)... 10 Sept. 2006
By Thomas Duff - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you're like me, you probably think of Unicode as "expanded ASCII" and that's about it. But there is infinitely more to the subject than I thought, and Unicode Explained by Jukka K. Korpela is an exhaustive reference to all that is Unicode. And in this increasingly global computing environment, you will need to know this information...


Part 1 - Working with Characters: Characters as Data; Writing Characters; Character Sets and Encoding

Part 2 - A Systematic Look at Unicode: The Structure of Unicode; Properties of Characters; Unicode Encodings

Part 3 - Advanced Unicode Topics: Characters and Languages; Character Usage; The Character Level and Above; Characters in Internet Protocols; Characters in Programming

Appendix - Tables for Writing Characters; Index

In concept, Unicode is real simple. An expanded character set using 16 bit encoding, and you can accommodate far more languages and symbols than straight ASCII. But the implementation is far more complex than that. Korpela starts with the basics of characters... what they are, what they mean, and the nuances involved. From there, you learn about how applications have to interpret the different encoding standards and handle things like case, sort orders, line breaks, etc. When I saw the size of the book (600+ pages), I wondered if the material was just a lot of reference tables that could be found online. Gladly, it's not... This is an exploration of everything that is Unicode, and you'd have to wade through a lot of web pages to even begin to glean the level and value of information that you'll find here.

If you have anything to do with programming or designing global software, this book purchase is a no-brainer. And even if you're not doing anything in that area right now, this is one of those reference titles that is worth having on your bookshelf and available for the first time you *do* need it. It won't take long to pay for itself...
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent explanation, but Windows-centric examples 1 Feb. 2007
By Daniel Delaney - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is excellent. The author's writing style is easy to read and he pretty much explains everything about Unicode. It's perfect if you're working with multi-lingual Web sites or email, or just if you want to start using Unicode for all of your Web site development (something everyone should do).

The only thing disappointing about this book is that all of his examples and screen shots are for and from Windows. A reader could come away with the feeling that Mac OS X and Linux don't have as much support for Unicode as Windows which, of course, is not the case at all. The least he could have done is to mention and give screenshots of Linux's "Character Map" app and Mac OS X's built-in "Character Palette", both of which are pretty much just like the Windows "Character Map" app.

I'm surprised O'Reilly allowed a book about such a platform-neutral subject to be so Windows-centric. Hopefully they can hire someone to add Linux and Mac OS X examples into the second edition.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Comprehensive and Practical 7 Oct. 2007
By Carsten Cumbrowski - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to deal with Unicode in greater detail for two reasons. I am working on some old ASCII and ANSI text converter for the web to be able to show them in text format in a browser, rather than converting them to an image as existing tools do. The second reason is XML and the normalization of the content distributed via XML and processed or used by XSLT or DHTML apps.

I realized that the whole subject is a lot more complicated than I initially thought and the number of questions that needed an answer to move forward with what I was doing increased significantly. I was finding stuff on the web, a little bit here and a little bit there and had it one day, because progress was slow.

I stumbled one day across this book via a Google search, which returned passages from it from its Google Book search results. I found a very good answer to one of my questions and answers to some other questions that were lying around unanswered from before. I checked the index of the book to see what subjects it covers and realized that it pretty much covers all of them. So I went ahead to Amazon and bought it right there and then.

I am glad to this day that I found it and can recommend it to anybody who has only little or no knowledge of Unicode and struggles with getting a grip on all those standards for data encoding, which make it hard to keep the data within XML and text files intact across platforms and prevent your XML based application or tool from breaking because of illegal data in your content.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Contextual and Comprehensive 10 May 2008
By Mark - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author presents Unicode well from all possible angles. He also explains related topics like character encodings, transfer encodings, ways to input the characters in popular software programs, font issues, portability. It is well written.

Its side notes are also interesting - explaining things like Arabic right-to-left with its contextual characters with 4 different forms; or how they mused over using one common Chinese Han character to be shared by Japanese , Koreans and Vietnamese versus including a version of each in their languages' ranges of individually separate characters.
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