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ISO-8859-1 vs UTF-8
character-set for multilingual website

 10:29 am on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I need your comments on character-set for multilingual website.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of both of these?

Thanks in advance.




 10:37 am on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

It depends upon which languages you're considering for the multilingual site. ISO-8859-1 may be too limiting depending on your answer. UTF-8 has advantages in the number of characters it can display.


 10:42 am on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

The website will be in more than 10 languages which are not finalized. But this will increase with time. Presently we have English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Canadian etc.


 11:09 am on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Which is superior in these two?

Do you recommend UTF-8?



 2:10 pm on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

i too prefer UTF-8 , its got an extended character set and this shud be preferably used for multilingual sites..

rest, i expect more senior people to put their views forward!

read this for more info on UTF-8

[edited by: ankur14vicky at 2:15 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2005]


 2:14 pm on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you are looking to use one charset for all pages from English to Japanese, then UTF-8 is most definitely the way to go. ISO-8859-1 is only good for Western European languages (English, French, German, etc.).


 2:17 pm on Aug 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

According to testing that we have done, encyclo's advice is right on target.




 5:26 am on Aug 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Presently we have English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Canadian etc.

Well, you've just answered your question right there. ;) It's impossible to do a Japanese site in ISO-8859-1.

There are arguments for using local encoding over UTF-8 for several Asian character sets. However, as time goes by the reasons for concern fade. Generally speaking there are some older softwares that have difficulty with UTF-8, but newer software and systems don't seem to have the same display problems.

Given the languages you have listed I'd say that UTF-8 would be a safe choice. You would then want to make sure that you set the language properly for each site.


 5:42 am on Aug 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks a ton for all of your's valuable comments.


 6:07 am on Aug 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

In general, I prefer UTF-8 for mutilingual sites because of its support for asian languages.


I also have used 'weft' to avoid character set problems. Weft is an old technology and works great with server side fonts. I have used multiple langauges in a single page itself, including hindi and dozens of other languages, by implementing server side fonts.

Even complex fonts render so well in weft that it looks great.

You can check out weft on [microsoft.com...]


 6:08 am on Aug 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site is primarily English, but it has an occasional phrase of German, French, Greek, and Hebrew. I switched to utf-8 for everything about a year ago and haven't looked back. The most wonderful thing is the ability to enter all special characters directly into the HTML file without having to use long strings of entity references: even one sentence of Greek done that way is a nightmare.

The best set of resources for people creating multilingual sites are the Unicode pages by Alan Wood. Search for 'Alan Wood unicode' and you'll find them.

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