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UTF-8 -> ISO8859-1 conversion problem

P: n/a
ERROR: could not convert UTF-8 character 0x00ef to ISO8859-1

Running 7.4.5, I frequently get this error, and ONLY on this particular
character despite seeing quite a bit of 8 bit. I don't really follow why
it can't be converted, it's the same character (239) in both character
sets. Databases are in ISO8859-1, JDBC driver is defaulting to UTF-8.

Am I flubbing something up? I'm probably going to (reluctantly) convert
to UTF-8 in the database at some point, but it'd sure be nice if this
worked without that. :)

thanks!



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Nov 23 '05 #1
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4 Replies


P: n/a

In my experience, there are just some characters that don't want to be
converted, even if they appear to be part of the normal 8-bit character
system. We went to Unicode databases to hold our Latin1 characters because
of this. There was even a case where the client was cutting and pasting
ascii text into our database, and it just wouldn't take some of the
letters, giving the same error you reported.

I'm going to send a more detailed post on the topic, but in general,
we've found that there are four things that need to be done (four, if
you're not serving up web pages) for Latin1 characters to work on multiple
platforms.

1. Create the database in Unicode so that it will hold anything you
throw at it.

2. When importing data, set the encoding in the script that loads the
data, or if there's no script, use the "SET CLIENT_ENCODING TO (encoding)"
command. Setting the encoding in a tool like pgManager is not always
enough. Use this to be sure.

3. When retrieving data in a java application, the JVM encoding will
vary from JVM to JVM, and no attempt on our part to change the JVM encoding
or translate the encoding of the database strings has worked, either to or
from the database. We spent weeks going through every permutation
getBytes("ISO-8859-1") and related calls we could find, but to no
avail. The JVM will tell you it has a new encoding, but postgres will
return gibberish. You can translate the bytes, or get a translated string,
but it's all the same garbage. The solution: set the client encoding
manually through a jdbc prepared statement. Once you set the client
encoding properly, all seems to be fine:

String DBEncoding = "anEncoding" //use a real encoding, either returned
from the jvm or explicitly stated
PreparedStatement statement = dbCon.prepareStatement("SET CLIENT_ENCODING
TO '" + DBEncoding + "'");
statement.execute();

4. If writing html for a web page, make sure the encoding of the web
page matches the encoding of the strings you're throwing at it. So if you
have a Linux JVM that has a "UTF-8" encoding, the web page will need the
html equivalent:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

---

This is likely far more information than you require, but I thought I'd
add it anyway so that the information is in the archives. It took us
months to solve our problem, even with help from the postgres community, so
I at least want the basics to be posted while I get my act together and
write something with more detail.

- Mike
At 12:12 PM 10/29/2004, Cott Lang wrote:
ERROR: could not convert UTF-8 character 0x00ef to ISO8859-1

Running 7.4.5, I frequently get this error, and ONLY on this particular
character despite seeing quite a bit of 8 bit. I don't really follow why
it can't be converted, it's the same character (239) in both character
sets. Databases are in ISO8859-1, JDBC driver is defaulting to UTF-8.

Am I flubbing something up? I'm probably going to (reluctantly) convert
to UTF-8 in the database at some point, but it'd sure be nice if this
worked without that. :)

thanks!



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Nov 23 '05 #2

P: n/a

Correction: Four things that need to be done, THREE if you're not
serving up html. Sorry for the editing error.

- Mike
At 01:19 PM 10/29/2004, J. Michael Crawford wrote:
In my experience, there are just some characters that don't want to be
converted, even if they appear to be part of the normal 8-bit character
system. We went to Unicode databases to hold our Latin1 characters
because of this. There was even a case where the client was cutting and
pasting ascii text into our database, and it just wouldn't take some of
the letters, giving the same error you reported.

I'm going to send a more detailed post on the topic, but in general,
we've found that there are four things that need to be done (four, if
you're not serving up web pages) for Latin1 characters to work on
multiple platforms.

1. Create the database in Unicode so that it will hold anything you
throw at it.

2. When importing data, set the encoding in the script that loads the
data, or if there's no script, use the "SET CLIENT_ENCODING TO
(encoding)" command. Setting the encoding in a tool like pgManager is
not always enough. Use this to be sure.

3. When retrieving data in a java application, the JVM encoding will
vary from JVM to JVM, and no attempt on our part to change the JVM
encoding or translate the encoding of the database strings has worked,
either to or from the database. We spent weeks going through every
permutation getBytes("ISO-8859-1") and related calls we could find, but
to no avail. The JVM will tell you it has a new encoding, but postgres
will return gibberish. You can translate the bytes, or get a translated
string, but it's all the same garbage. The solution: set the client
encoding manually through a jdbc prepared statement. Once you set the
client encoding properly, all seems to be fine:

String DBEncoding = "anEncoding" //use a real encoding, either returned
from the jvm or explicitly stated
PreparedStatement statement = dbCon.prepareStatement("SET CLIENT_ENCODING
TO '" + DBEncoding + "'");
statement.execute();

4. If writing html for a web page, make sure the encoding of the web
page matches the encoding of the strings you're throwing at it. So if
you have a Linux JVM that has a "UTF-8" encoding, the web page will need
the html equivalent:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

---

This is likely far more information than you require, but I thought I'd
add it anyway so that the information is in the archives. It took us
months to solve our problem, even with help from the postgres community,
so I at least want the basics to be posted while I get my act together
and write something with more detail.

- Mike
At 12:12 PM 10/29/2004, Cott Lang wrote:
ERROR: could not convert UTF-8 character 0x00ef to ISO8859-1

Running 7.4.5, I frequently get this error, and ONLY on this particular
character despite seeing quite a bit of 8 bit. I don't really follow why
it can't be converted, it's the same character (239) in both character
sets. Databases are in ISO8859-1, JDBC driver is defaulting to UTF-8.

Am I flubbing something up? I'm probably going to (reluctantly) convert
to UTF-8 in the database at some point, but it'd sure be nice if this
worked without that. :)

thanks!



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Nov 23 '05 #3

P: n/a
Cott Lang wrote:
ERROR: could not convert UTF-8 character 0x00ef to ISO8859-1

Running 7.4.5, I frequently get this error, and ONLY on this particular
character despite seeing quite a bit of 8 bit. I don't really follow why
it can't be converted, it's the same character (239) in both character
sets. Databases are in ISO8859-1, JDBC driver is defaulting to UTF-8.

Am I flubbing something up? I'm probably going to (reluctantly) convert
to UTF-8 in the database at some point, but it'd sure be nice if this
worked without that. :)


Can you post a code snippet? There's really no such thing as a "UTF-8
character". Java chars and Strings are UTF-16 (or maybe UCS-2 in JVMs
prior to 1.5), not UTF-8.

Note that 0xEF should not appear by itself in a UTF-8 bytestream. The
UTF-8 representation of U+00EF is 0xC3 0xAF.

--
================================================== ======================
Clearly, there is no political benefit to expediting the admission of
legal immigrants into the United States. Nevertheless, I believe that
our elected officials have an obligation to do more than simply pander
to the thinly veiled racism of their constituents.
Ian Pilcher
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Nov 23 '05 #4

P: n/a
Thanks for the detailed reply, you've confirmed what I suspected. :)

I guess I have some work to do!
On Fri, 2004-10-29 at 10:19, J. Michael Crawford wrote:
In my experience, there are just some characters that don't want to be
converted, even if they appear to be part of the normal 8-bit character
system. We went to Unicode databases to hold our Latin1 characters because
of this. There was even a case where the client was cutting and pasting
ascii text into our database, and it just wouldn't take some of the
letters, giving the same error you reported.

I'm going to send a more detailed post on the topic, but in general,
we've found that there are four things that need to be done (four, if
you're not serving up web pages) for Latin1 characters to work on multiple
platforms.

1. Create the database in Unicode so that it will hold anything you
throw at it.

2. When importing data, set the encoding in the script that loads the
data, or if there's no script, use the "SET CLIENT_ENCODING TO (encoding)"
command. Setting the encoding in a tool like pgManager is not always
enough. Use this to be sure.

3. When retrieving data in a java application, the JVM encoding will
vary from JVM to JVM, and no attempt on our part to change the JVM encoding
or translate the encoding of the database strings has worked, either to or
from the database. We spent weeks going through every permutation
getBytes("ISO-8859-1") and related calls we could find, but to no
avail. The JVM will tell you it has a new encoding, but postgres will
return gibberish. You can translate the bytes, or get a translated string,
but it's all the same garbage. The solution: set the client encoding
manually through a jdbc prepared statement. Once you set the client
encoding properly, all seems to be fine:

String DBEncoding = "anEncoding" //use a real encoding, either returned
from the jvm or explicitly stated
PreparedStatement statement = dbCon.prepareStatement("SET CLIENT_ENCODING
TO '" + DBEncoding + "'");
statement.execute();

4. If writing html for a web page, make sure the encoding of the web
page matches the encoding of the strings you're throwing at it. So if you
have a Linux JVM that has a "UTF-8" encoding, the web page will need the
html equivalent:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

---

This is likely far more information than you require, but I thought I'd
add it anyway so that the information is in the archives. It took us
months to solve our problem, even with help from the postgres community, so
I at least want the basics to be posted while I get my act together and
write something with more detail.

- Mike
At 12:12 PM 10/29/2004, Cott Lang wrote:
>ERROR: could not convert UTF-8 character 0x00ef to ISO8859-1
>
>Running 7.4.5, I frequently get this error, and ONLY on this particular
>character despite seeing quite a bit of 8 bit. I don't really follow why
>it can't be converted, it's the same character (239) in both character
>sets. Databases are in ISO8859-1, JDBC driver is defaulting to UTF-8.
>
>Am I flubbing something up? I'm probably going to (reluctantly) convert
>to UTF-8 in the database at some point, but it'd sure be nice if this
>worked without that. :)
>
>thanks!
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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>TIP 8: explain analyze is your friend

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Nov 23 '05 #5

This discussion thread is closed

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