Character encoding is an area that we programmers tend to avoid as much as possible, often fixing problems by trial and errors. With web-development you will sooner or later be bitten by character encoding bugs, no matter how you try to escape them. As soon as you are getting inputs from the user and displaying information in your web-browser, you will be confronted with character encoding problems. However, the basic concepts are simple to understand and the difficulty often lies in the extra layers that typically a web developer does not have to worry about such as the web-rendering engine, the web server and the input keyboard.
Historically the difference between character sets and character encoding was minor, since a standard specified what characters were available as well as how they encoded. Unicode and ISO 10646 (Universal Character Set) changed this situation by clearly separating the two concepts. Such a separation is essential: on one hand you have the character sets you can manipulate and on the other hand you have how they are represented physically (encoded).
In this section we’ll present the two basic concepts you have to understand - character sets and character encodings. This should help you avoid most problems. Then we will tell you how these are supported in Seaside.