Unicode for Rails

I finally gave my talk this afternoon. I rushed through things in 40 minutes; I was planning on 45, but I started a little late due to microphone difficulties.

The talk seemed to go down well; a few people came up to ask questions afterwards. My official hecklers, Tom and Paul were noticeably silent. They didn’t try to pedant-me-to-death afterwards, which is good. Although it probably means I had too much detail in there for mere mortals!

I’d also like to give a huge bouqet of thanks to the hyper-lovely _why for his fabulously encouraging words along the way.

Anyway, please take a look at the slides for Unicode for Rails if you fancy. One thing I added at the last minute and didn’t get a chance to show on screen was the links slide. In particular, I recommend checking out Julik’s Unicode Slides.

I practised by giving the talk to a collection of fluffy toys that we have around the house. We now have the most well-unicode-educated giraffes in existence, I suspect. πŸ™‚

On a slightly less fun note, I’ve just read Tony Finch’s summary of UTF-8 in email, which is far, far hairier than in HTTP (which has most of the complications built in at least). Worth checking out if you do much email.

Comments 7

  1. Hamza wrote:


    I would just like to say that I enjoyed your talk.

    I did not have time to come up to you after the talk, but I just wanted to let you know that I have developed a UTF-8 site in Rails.

    It is a Bilingual Chinese / English website named


    Nothing much that I did apart from follow the utf-8 wiki and not do any string manipulation πŸ™‚

    I think there could be an issue in Safari, but I have not had time to look into it.

    Kind Regards

    Posted 16 Sep 2006 at 22:55
  2. Hugh wrote:

    Thanks for posting your slides, very informative. One question though, if I’m making a rails app in just Japanese & English should I try and use UT8-F or will ISO-2022-JP work?

    Posted 16 Sep 2006 at 23:47
  3. Dominic Mitchell wrote:

    Hamza: Many thanks for the kind words. The Rails wiki page is a good place to start.

    As to the slight issues in Safari, it seems to work OK when I had a quick look at it. πŸ™‚ But really, that’s just life on the Internet. The best thing you can do is try to replicate it the problem and then insert a test so it doesn’t happen again.

    Posted 17 Sep 2006 at 14:03
  4. Dominic Mitchell wrote:

    Hugh: Personally, I’d really try to make everything use UTF-8. It’s probably a simpler choice for the long term. You can probably make it work just fine with ISO-2022-JP, but UTF-8 will be better supported as time goes on. If you’re using a database, I would imagine that UTF-8 support is probably better there, too.

    To be honest, I don’t know for certain because I don’t have enough experience. I just happen to believe that UTF-8 is a pretty safe bet. πŸ™‚

    Posted 17 Sep 2006 at 14:13
  5. Thijs van der Vossen wrote:

    We’re almost ready with a new version of Julik’s ‘Unicode Hacks’ that’s now called ‘ActiveSupport::Multibyte’. You can find more information and code on the ‘Multibyte for Rails’ project site.

    Posted 18 Sep 2006 at 21:08
  6. Dominic Mitchell wrote:

    Thijs: many thanks for the link. I actually spotted the activity on fngtps.com a couple of days ago, but I didn’t really know how “official” it was so decided not to mention it.

    Anyway, that looks really cool. I’ll try and check it out when I get a moment…

    Posted 18 Sep 2006 at 22:50
  7. Thijs van der Vossen wrote:

    We’re still working on some minor things like improving the documentation and a script that you can use to turn the ActiveSupport::Multibyte plugin into a patch automagically.

    It’s getting more and more official as the week progresses. Please do check the plugin out and let us know what you think about it.

    Posted 19 Sep 2006 at 07:58