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Re: UTF8 encoding and non-text data types

From: Steve Midgley <public(at)misuse(dot)org>
To: "Medi Montaseri" <montaseri(at)gmail(dot)com>
Cc: pgsql-sql(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: UTF8 encoding and non-text data types
Date: 2008-01-14 20:18:11
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-sql
>On Jan 13, 2008 8:51 PM, Steve Midgley 
><<mailto:public(at)misuse(dot)org>public(at)misuse(dot)org> wrote:
>At 02:22 PM 1/13/2008, 
> >Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2008 14:21:00 -0800
> >From: "Medi Montaseri" <<mailto:montaseri(at)gmail(dot)com> 
> montaseri(at)gmail(dot)com>
> >To: <mailto:pgsql-sql(at)postgresql(dot)org>pgsql-sql(at)postgresql(dot)org
> >Subject: UTF8 encoding and non-text data types
> >Message-ID:
> ><<mailto:8078a1730801121421l1c9b90c1lc65d36cf6e752a6f(at)mail(dot)gmail(dot)com> 
>   8078a1730801121421l1c9b90c1lc65d36cf6e752a6f(at)mail(dot)gmail(dot)com>
> >
> >I understand PG supports UTF-8 encoding and I have sucessfully
> >inserted
> >Unicode text into columns. I was wondering about other data types 
> such
> >as
> >numbers, decimal, dates
> >
> >That is, say I have a table t1 with
> >create table t1 { name text, cost decimal }
> >I can insert UTF8 text datatype into this table with no problem
> >But if my application attempts to insert numbers encloded in UTF8,
> >then I
> >get wrong datatype error
> >
> >Is the solution for the application layer (not database) to convert
> >the
> >non-text UTF8 numbers to ASCII and then insert it into database ?
> >
> >Thanks
> >Medi
>Hi Medi,
>I have only limited experience in this area, but it sounds like you
>sending your numbers as strings? In your example:
> >create table t1 { name text, cost decimal };
>insert into t1 (name, cost) values ('name1', '1');
>I can't think of how else you're sending numeric values as UTF8? I 
>that Pg will accept numbers as strings and convert internally (that 
>worked for me in some object relational environments where I don't
>choose to cope with data types), but I think it would be better if you
>simply didn't send your numeric data in quotations, whether as UTF8 or 
>ASCII. If you don't have control over this layer (that quotes your
>values), then I'd say converting to ASCII would solve the problem. But
>better to convert to numeric and not ship quoted strings at all.
>I may be totally off-base and missing something fundamental and I'm
>very open to correction (by anyone), but that's what I can see here.
>Best regards,
>At 11:01 AM 1/14/2008, Medi Montaseri wrote:
>Thanks Steve,
>Actually I do not insert text data into my numeric field.
>As I mentioned given
>create table t1 { name text, cost decimal }
>then I would like to insert numeric data into column "cost" because 
>then I can later benefit from numerical operators like SUM, AVG, etc
>More specifically, I am using HTML, Perl and PG. So from the HTML 
>point of view a textfield is just some strings. So my user would enter 
>12345 but expressed in UTF8. Perl would get this and use DBI to insert 
>it into PG
>What I am experiencing now is that DB errors that I am trying to 
>insert an incorrect data into column "cost" which is numeric and the 
>data is coming in from HTML in UTF8
>Mybe I have to convert it to ASCII numbers in Perl before 
>inserting  them into PG

Hi Medi,

I agree that you should convert your values in Perl before handing to 
DBI. I'm not familiar with DBI but presumably if you're sending it UTF8 
values it's attempting to quote them or do something with them, that a 
numeric field in Pg can't handle. Can you trap/monitor the exact sql 
statement that is generated by DBI and sent to Pg? That would help a 
lot in knowing what it is doing, but I suspect if you just convert your 
numbers from the HTML/UTF8 source values into actual Perl numeric 
values and then ship to DBI you'll be better off. And you'll get some 
input validation for free.

I hope this helps,


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