The character set support in PostgreSQL allows you to store text in a variety of character sets, including single-byte character sets such as the ISO 8859 series and multiple-byte character sets such as EUC (Extended Unix Code), Unicode, and Mule internal code. All character sets can be used transparently throughout the server. (If you use extension functions from other sources, it depends on whether they wrote their code correctly.) The default character set is selected while initializing your PostgreSQL database cluster using initdb. It can be overridden when you create a database using createdb or by using the SQL command CREATE DATABASE. So you can have multiple databases each with a different character set.
Table 20-1 shows the character sets available for use in the server.
Table 20-1. Server Character Sets
|JOHAB||Korean EUC (Hangle base)|
|MULE_INTERNAL||Mule internal code|
|LATIN1||ISO 8859-1/ECMA 94 (Latin alphabet no.1)|
|LATIN2||ISO 8859-2/ECMA 94 (Latin alphabet no.2)|
|LATIN3||ISO 8859-3/ECMA 94 (Latin alphabet no.3)|
|LATIN4||ISO 8859-4/ECMA 94 (Latin alphabet no.4)|
|LATIN5||ISO 8859-9/ECMA 128 (Latin alphabet no.5)|
|LATIN6||ISO 8859-10/ECMA 144 (Latin alphabet no.6)|
|LATIN7||ISO 8859-13 (Latin alphabet no.7)|
|LATIN8||ISO 8859-14 (Latin alphabet no.8)|
|LATIN9||ISO 8859-15 (Latin alphabet no.9)|
|LATIN10||ISO 8859-16/ASRO SR 14111 (Latin alphabet no.10)|
|ISO_8859_5||ISO 8859-5/ECMA 113 (Latin/Cyrillic)|
|ISO_8859_6||ISO 8859-6/ECMA 114 (Latin/Arabic)|
|ISO_8859_7||ISO 8859-7/ECMA 118 (Latin/Greek)|
|ISO_8859_8||ISO 8859-8/ECMA 121 (Latin/Hebrew)|
|WIN874||Windows CP874 (Thai)|
|WIN1256||Windows CP1256 (Arabic)|
|TCVN||TCVN-5712/Windows CP1258 (Vietnamese)|
Important: Before PostgreSQL 7.2, LATIN5 mistakenly meant ISO 8859-5. From 7.2 on, LATIN5 means ISO 8859-9. If you have a LATIN5 database created on 7.1 or earlier and want to migrate to 7.2 or later, you should be careful about this change.
Not all APIs support all the listed character sets. For example, the PostgreSQL JDBC driver does not support MULE_INTERNAL, LATIN6, LATIN8, and LATIN10.
initdb defines the default character set for a PostgreSQL cluster. For example,
initdb -E EUC_JP
sets the default character set (encoding) to EUC_JP (Extended Unix Code for Japanese). You can use --encoding instead of -E if you prefer to type longer option strings. If no -E or --encoding option is given, SQL_ASCII is used.
You can create a database with a different character set:
createdb -E EUC_KR korean
This will create a database named korean that uses the character set EUC_KR. Another way to accomplish this is to use this SQL command:
CREATE DATABASE korean WITH ENCODING 'EUC_KR';
The encoding for a database is stored in the system catalog pg_database. You can see that by using the -l option or the \l command of psql.
$ psql -l List of databases Database | Owner | Encoding ---------------+---------+--------------- euc_cn | t-ishii | EUC_CN euc_jp | t-ishii | EUC_JP euc_kr | t-ishii | EUC_KR euc_tw | t-ishii | EUC_TW mule_internal | t-ishii | MULE_INTERNAL regression | t-ishii | SQL_ASCII template1 | t-ishii | EUC_JP test | t-ishii | EUC_JP unicode | t-ishii | UNICODE (9 rows)
Important: Although you can specify any encoding you want for a database, it is unwise to choose an encoding that is not what is expected by the locale you have selected. The LC_COLLATE and LC_CTYPE settings imply a particular encoding, and locale-dependent operations (such as sorting) are likely to misinterpret data that is in an incompatible encoding.
Since these locale settings are frozen by initdb, the apparent flexibility to use different encodings in different databases of a cluster is more theoretical than real. It is likely that these mechanisms will be revisited in future versions of PostgreSQL.
One way to use multiple encodings safely is to set the locale to C or POSIX during initdb, thus disabling any real locale awareness.
PostgreSQL supports automatic character set conversion between server and client for certain character sets. The conversion information is stored in the pg_conversion system catalog. You can create a new conversion by using the SQL command CREATE CONVERSION. PostgreSQL comes with some predefined conversions. They are listed in Table 20-2.
Table 20-2. Client/Server Character Set Conversions
|Server Character Set||Available Client Character Sets|
|SQL_ASCII||SQL_ASCII, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|EUC_JP||EUC_JP, SJIS, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|EUC_CN||EUC_CN, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|EUC_KR||EUC_KR, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|EUC_TW||EUC_TW, BIG5, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN1||LATIN1, UNICODE MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN2||LATIN2, WIN1250, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN3||LATIN3, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN4||LATIN4, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN6||LATIN6, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN7||LATIN7, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN8||LATIN8, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN9||LATIN9, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|LATIN10||LATIN10, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|ISO_8859_5||ISO_8859_5, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL, WIN, ALT, KOI8|
|UNICODE||EUC_JP, SJIS, EUC_KR, UHC, JOHAB, EUC_CN, GBK, EUC_TW, BIG5, LATIN1 to LATIN10, ISO_8859_5, ISO_8859_6, ISO_8859_7, ISO_8859_8, WIN, ALT, KOI8, WIN1256, TCVN, WIN874, GB18030, WIN1250|
|MULE_INTERNAL||EUC_JP, SJIS, EUC_KR, EUC_CN, EUC_TW, BIG5, LATIN1 to LATIN5, WIN, ALT, WIN1250, BIG5, ISO_8859_5, KOI8|
|KOI8||ISO_8859_5, WIN, ALT, KOI8, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|ALT||ISO_8859_5, WIN, ALT, KOI8, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|WIN1250||LATIN2, WIN1250, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
|WIN||ISO_8859_5, WIN, ALT, KOI8, UNICODE, MULE_INTERNAL|
To enable the automatic character set conversion, you have to tell PostgreSQL the character set (encoding) you would like to use in the client. There are several ways to accomplish this:
Using the \encoding command in psql. \encoding allows you to change client encoding on the fly. For example, to change the encoding to SJIS, type:
Using libpq functions.
\encoding actually calls
PQsetClientEncoding() for its
int PQsetClientEncoding(PGconn *conn, const char *encoding);
where conn is a connection to the server, and encoding is the encoding you want to use. If the function successfully sets the encoding, it returns 0, otherwise -1. The current encoding for this connection can be determined by using:
int PQclientEncoding(const PGconn *conn);
Note that it returns the encoding ID, not a symbolic string such as EUC_JP. To convert an encoding ID to an encoding name, you can use:
char *pg_encoding_to_char(int encoding_id);
Using SET client_encoding TO. Setting the client encoding can be done with this SQL command:
SET CLIENT_ENCODING TO 'value';
Also you can use the more standard SQL syntax SET NAMES for this purpose:
SET NAMES 'value';
To query the current client encoding:
To return to the default encoding:
Using PGCLIENTENCODING. If the environment variable PGCLIENTENCODING is defined in the client's environment, that client encoding is automatically selected when a connection to the server is made. (This can subsequently be overridden using any of the other methods mentioned above.)
Using the configuration variable client_encoding. If the client_encoding variable is set, that client encoding is automatically selected when a connection to the server is made. (This can subsequently be overridden using any of the other methods mentioned above.)
If the conversion of a particular character is not possible — suppose you chose EUC_JP for the server and LATIN1 for the client, then some Japanese characters cannot be converted to LATIN1 — it is transformed to its hexadecimal byte values in parentheses, e.g., (826C).
These are good sources to start learning about various kinds of encoding systems.
Detailed explanations of EUC_JP, EUC_CN, EUC_KR, EUC_TW appear in section 3.2.
The web site of the Unicode Consortium
UTF-8 is defined here.
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