Re: German characters not correct in output webform

From: Edward H. Trager (
Date: Wed Jan 14 2004 - 13:35:38 EST

  • Next message: Edward H. Trager: "Re: German characters not correct in output webform"

    On Tuesday 2004.01.13 09:48:56 -0800, Addison Phillips [wM] wrote:
    > German characters not correct in output webformHi Bert,
    > This is a common problem.
    > When you do a form submit (POST or GET of data to the server), the browser encodes the characters being sent using the character encoding that the page uses. In your case, from the examples you sent, this encoding is Unicode UTF-8. UTF-8 is a multibyte encoding of Unicode in which non-ASCII characters take two or more bytes. In this case, the German accented characters each take two bytes.
    > When the server receives the data, it decodes the original bytes sent by the browser. The problem is: what encoding should be used to interpret the bytes? For historical reasons, most Web servers (include J2EE, .NET, Apache/Tomcat, etc.) default to using ISO-8859-1 (Latin-1), a single byte Western European encoding. This is what is happening in your case: each UTF-8 byte is being treated as a single character, leading to the corruption you are experiencing. You can see that each German character is interpreted as a sequence of two bytes.
    > To fix your problem you must change your server side configuration to interprets the bytes sent using the same encoding that the form uses (UTF-8 in this case). This has nothing to do with your Javascript. What exactly to do depends on the technology of your web server. There are too many of these to list here, but you should be able to do a little searching to find the answer (or write back off list and I can probably point you to the documentation).

    I and I'm sure many others have seen this problem too.

    Given the maturity of support for Unicode in the various relevant technologies(web servers, web browsers, XML, Javascript, Java, etc...) and the global nature of the marketplace, it seems to me that it is high time
    that web servers default to serving UTF-8 instead of ISO-8859-1. The W3C should really stipulate UTF-8 as the default.

    In the case of Apache, it is trivial to change the configuration file to UTF-8 instead of ISO-8859-1 (I even remember that
    it's around line 780 something
    in the default configuration file distributed with Apache version 2.x), but I wish it was the
    DEFAULT. In the case of IIS (the server used for serving the form which was highlighted as having the problem at the beginning
    of this thread), I would assume that it would also not be difficult to set the configuration file, but I don't have first-hand
    knowledge about how to do that. In any case, UTF-8 should be the default for IIS and all the other servers out there.
    When I look at the rather long trail of emails in this thread -- all of this stuff about legacy character sets and what
    browsers and servers are going to do -- or not do as the case may very well be -- with characters that are not defined in
    legacy character sets -- I think to myself, "Well, come on! The answer for solving almost all of your problems is so obvious:
    use Unicode and in particular, that very useful transformation format called UTF-8!" For European languages using Latin script,
    UTF-8 means
    that, on average, web pages are going to be a few bytes longer than they were before under ISO-8859-x -- but it's nothing
    significant! And if the web pages, databases, and relevant glue between the two ( Java, Javascript, ASP, PHP, Perl, Python, etc...)
    are all designed around UTF-8 today, it means that you'll have a lot less work to do tomorrow when (1) you or client decides
    to go after some other global audience or market or (2) XML rules the world, or (3) both.

    And then threads like this one will be just a thing of the past...

    - Ed Trager
      Kellogg Eye Center
      University of Michigan

    > You might want to be aware of the W3C's Internationalization mailing list (See and of the FAQs at (alas, the FAQ on this topic hasn't been published yet!)
    > Best Regards,
    > Addison
    > Addison P. Phillips
    > Director, Globalization Architecture
    > webMethods | Delivering Global Business Visibility
    > Chair, W3C Internationalization (I18N) Working Group
    > Chair, W3C-I18N-WG, Web Services Task Force
    > Internationalization is an architecture.
    > It is not a feature.
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []On Behalf Of Bert Kemner
    > Sent: lundi 12 janvier 2004 22:38
    > To: ''
    > Subject: German characters not correct in output webform
    > Hi,
    > I've a problem with a Javascript form on a german website.
    > (
    > The input of the form contains german characters.
    > But the output (which is generated by submitting the form) does not
    > display those characters (see example beneath). My first reaction to
    > this problem is that Unicode somehow does not translate these german
    > characters to Windows (Outlook).
    > Example form output:
    > Form: Kontaktformular
    > Sender: Receiver:
    > Insertdate: 2/12/2003
    > Vor- und Zuname:: Birgitta Mühe
    > Firma / Institution:: �ffentliche Bücherei Mainz
    > Berufsbezeichnung::
    > E-Mail-Adresse::
    > Telefonnummer::
    > Ihre Fragen und Anregungen:: Wir interessieren uns für eine
    > Abonnement der Print-Ausgabe der britischen Tageszeitung "Times". Ist
    > dies über Sie möglich und wenn ja zu welchen Konditionen.
    > (Preis, wann wird zugestellt? ...)
    > Can you help me with this, or suggest something?
    > I really appreciate your help.
    > Kindest regards,
    > Bert Kemner,
    > webmaster,
    > Swets Information Services,
    > Lisse,
    > The Netherlands
    > Bert Kemner
    > Webmaster
    > Swets Information Services
    > P.O.Box 830
    > 2160 SZ Lisse
    > Heereweg 347B
    > 2161 CA Lisse
    > The Netherlands
    > T +31 (0)252 435 241
    > F +31 (0)252 415 888
    > E

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