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What is the Difference Between ASCII and Unicode?

By James LePage
 on March 27, 2022

What is the Difference Between ASCII and Unicode?

By James LePage
 on March 27, 2022

ASCII and Unicode are the most well-known character encoding standards currently being used around the world. Both programs are exceedingly important in modern communications. When using an electronic communications device, data goes through the central processing unit that improves system performance by using main and cache memory. Peripherals utilize interfaces to communicate between the system and a connected device. Both encoding standards characters can be represented in binary. Characters are typically grouped in a character set. A character set includes:  

  • alphanumeric data (letters and numbers)
  • symbols (*, &, : etc.)
  • control characters (Backspace, Horizontal tab, Escape, etc.

A character set is a selection of characters, while a character encoding is a chart where a character set and a value are represented digitally (ex: A=1, B=2). The ASCII standard is essentially both: it defines the sets of characters that it represents and a method of assigning each character a numerical value. The word Unicode, on the other hand, is used in several different contexts to mean different things. Think of it as an all-encompassing term to refer to a character set and number encodings. However, because there are numerous encodings, the term Unicode is typically used to refer to the overall set of characters, rather than how they are charted.

Features of ASCII and Unicode 

ASCII 

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) was first launched in 1963. It has 128 encoded characters,which are chiefly in the English language that are used in modern programming computers. Because it hasn’t been updated since its inception, ASCII has less space occupied. It utilizes 7 bits of data to encode any character, was mainly used for character encoding on the World Wide Web, and is still widely used for modern computer programs like HTML.

image-57-6

It encodes text by converting it into numbers because numbers are easier to store in the computer memory than the alphabet. There is also an alternative version known as extended ASCII. With this technique, it is possible to use the most significant bit of an 8-bit byte to permit ASCII to present 256 characters. Programmers use the design character set to make certain tasks simpler. For instance, using ASCII character codes, changing a single bit easily converts text from uppercase to lowercase. It also uses some non-printing control characters that were initially intended for use with teletype printing terminals.  

Unicode

The Unicode (Universal Character Set) process, stores, and facilitates the exchange of text data in any language is considered the IT Standard used for encoding. Unicode represents and handles the text for computers, smartphones, and other technological equipment. It encodes a variety of characters, including a wide range of text in numerous languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek, historical scripts, mathematical symbols, etc. Unicode also supports a substantial number of characters and takes up more space in a device, so ASCII programming is a part of Unicode. Unicode utilizes 16 bits to represent the most frequently used characters in a multitude of languages. Developers typically exchange data using one flat code set without complex code conversions to read characters.      

screen-shot-2021-08-12-at-11-29-24-am

 

Support for Unicode provides many benefits, including:

  • Global source and binary.
  • Support for mixed-script computing environments.
  • Improved cross-platform data interoperability through a common codeset. 

Ease of Use

ASCII

  • Universally Accepted
  • Because ASCII uses a basic character set for basic communications, developers can design interfaces that both computers and people can comprehend. ASCII codes a strand of data like ASCII characters that can be explicated and presented as data for computers or planned readable text for people. The ASCII character set can help simplify certain tasks for programmers.  
  • Compact character encoding
  • Standard codes can be expressed in 7 bits, meaning that data can be expressed in the standard ASCII character set. This only requires as many bytes to send or store as the numbers in the data. 
  • Efficient for programming
  • ASCII character codes are well adapted to programming techniques for altering text and utilizing numbers for calculations or storage as raw data.

Unicode

  • Simplified application Process
  • All symbols are required by the application for writing and reading character data within an individual code page. This simplifies application development tremendously.  
  • Easy transference of existing code
  • Because there are traditional ASCII characters in its first 127 positions, the program allocates each of these characters to its original ASCII value. 
  • Web compatibility
  • Since Unicode is quickly becoming the universal code page of the web, all current Web standards rely on it.  
  • Multilingual applications
  • Applications using Unicode can support a multitude of languages in both data and user interface.  
  • Interoperability 
  • Java clients and Active-X are both based in Unicode, so they can communicate with AppServers and UTF-8 databases. 

 Company Behind the Product & Support

ASCII

image-58-7

In April of 2008, it MediaWorks, Inc. was legally absorbed by ASCII Corporation and formed the ASCII Media Works, Inc.

Unicode

image-59-7

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit corporation that develops, maintains, and promotes software internationalization, including the defining behavior and relationships between Unicode characters.

Alternatives

  • AppleScript

Apple created a scripting language called AppleScript in 1993. It enables users to control scriptable Macintosh applications. It also allows users to control scriptable Macintosh applications directly, and parts of macOS. You can create complex workflows, create scripts, automate repetitive tasks, combine features from multiple scriptable applications, and set of written instructions. AppleScript offers a limited number of commands. However, it also provides a framework where you can plug numerous task-specific commands (provided by scriptable parts of macOS and scriptable applications. AppleScript 2.0 is now entirely Unicode-based and contains all Unicode characters and is preserved correctly regardless of the language preference.  

Conclusion

So which is better? All and all, both ASCII and Unicode are extremely useful, but ultimately, the choice is yours based on your preferences and requirements. ASCII is great when working with a small number of characters provided by the technique, as it needs less space than Unicode. Unicode is in high demand due to its large variety of features and functions and is more user-friendly. Both are excellent encoding techniques for different applications.

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Article By
James LePage
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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!
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