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Monolingual and Multilingual Database Scenario


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The simplest example of an NLS database setup is when both the client and the server run in the same language environment and use the same character encoding. This monolingual scenario has the advantage of fast response because the overhead associated with character set conversion is avoided.

You can also use a multitier architecture.

Character Set Conversion
You may need to convert character sets in a client/server computing environment because a client application resides on a different computer platform from that of the server, and both platforms do not use the same character encoding schemes. Character data passed between client and server must be converted between the two encoding schemes. Character conversion occurs automatically and transparently via Oracle Net.

However, in cases where a target character set does not contain all characters in the source data, replacement characters are used. If, for example, a server uses US7ASCII and a German client WE8ISO8859P1, the German character ß is replaced with ? and ä is replaced with a.

Replacement characters may be defined for specific characters as part of a character set definition. When a specific replacement character is not defined, a default replacement character is used. To avoid the use of replacement characters when converting from client to database character set, the server character set should be a superset (or equivalent) of all the client character sets.

If German data is expected to be stored on the server, a character set that supports German letters, such as WE8ISO8859P1, is needed for both the server and the client.

In some variable-width multibyte cases, character set conversion may introduce noticeable overhead. You need to carefully evaluate your situation and choose character sets to avoid conversion as much as possible. Having the appropriate character set for the database and the client will avoid the overhead of character conversion, as well as possible data loss.

Multilingual Database Scenarios
Note that some character sets support multiple languages. This is typical when the languages have related writing systems or scripts. For example, Table 2-7 illustrates that WE8ISO8859P1 supports the following Western European languages:

Table 2-7 WE8ISO8859P1

Example

  1. Catalan
  2. Finnish
  3. Icelandic
  4. Portuguese
  5. Danish
  6. French
  7. Italian
  8. Spanish
  9. Dutch
  10. German
  11. Norwegian
  12. Swedish
  13. English
The reason WE8ISO8859P1 supports the languages above is because they are all based on a similar writing script. This situation is called restricted multilingual support. In this case, they are all Latin-based scripts.

Restricted Multilingual Support
both clients have access to the server's data, though the German client requires character conversion because it is using the WE8DEC character set.

Character conversion is necessary, but both French and German are Latin-based scripts, so you can use WE8ISO8859P1.

Unrestricted Multilingual Support
Often, unrestricted multilingual support is needed, and a universal character set such as Unicode is necessary as the server database character set. Unicode has two major encoding schemes: UTF-16 and UTF-8. UTF-16 is a two-byte fixed-width format; UTF-8 is a multibyte format with a variable width. The Oracle9i database provides support for UTF-8 as a database character set and both UTF-8 and UTF-16 as the national character set. This enhancement is transparent to clients who already provide support for multi-byte character sets.

Character set conversion between a UTF-8 database and any single-byte character set introduces very little overhead. Conversion between UTF-8 and any multibyte character set has some overhead but there is no conversion loss problem except that some multibyte character sets do not support user-defined characters during character set conversion to and from UTF-8.

Here, Japanese, French, and German clients are all accessing the same database based on the Unicode character set. Note that each client accesses only data that it can process. If Japanese data were retrieved, modified, and stored by the German client, all Japanese characters would be lost during the character set conversion.

You can also use a multitier architecture, as illustrated

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