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What is Unicode in i18n and l10n?

Unicode is a character encoding standard that aims to provide a universal representation for every character used in all human languages, as well as a wide range of symbols, punctuation marks, and technical symbols. It enables the consistent and unambiguous encoding of text across different platforms, applications, and languages.

Unicode assigns a unique numeric value, called a code point, to each character. This code point is a numerical representation of the character and serves as a reference for encoding and decoding the character in different computer systems.

The Unicode standard supports a vast range of characters, including those from commonly used scripts like Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and many more. It also includes characters from historical scripts, mathematical symbols, emojis, and special purpose symbols.

Unicode provides several encoding schemes to represent these characters in binary form. The most commonly used encoding scheme is UTF-8 (Unicode Transformation Format 8-bit), which is a variable-length encoding that assigns a different number of bytes to represent characters based on their code point value. Other encoding schemes include UTF-16 and UTF-32, which use fixed-length encoding for characters.

In the context of internationalization (i18n) and localization, Unicode plays a crucial role in ensuring the accurate representation of text in different languages and scripts. By adopting Unicode, software developers, and localization teams can support multilingual applications, handle diverse character sets, and enable the display and input of text in various languages.

Using Unicode in software development and localization processes helps overcome compatibility issues and ensures consistent rendering and interpretation of text across different platforms, operating systems, and applications. It allows for the seamless exchange and interoperability of text data between different systems, regardless of their native character encoding.

Overall, Unicode has revolutionized text processing and communication by providing a unified and comprehensive encoding standard that enables the global representation of text in a standardized and interoperable manner.

For more, see Unicode on Wikipedia.

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