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Character Codes Locate the document in its SAP Library structure

In the past, SAP developers used various codes to encode characters of different alphabets, for example, ASCII, EBCDI, or double-byte code pages.

Using these character sets, you can account for each language relevant to the SAP System. However, problems occur if you want to merge texts from different incompatible character sets in a central system. Equally, exchanging data between systems with incompatible character sets can result in unprecedented situations.

One solution to this problem is to use a code comprising all characters used on earth. This code is called Unicode (ISO/IEC 10646) and consists of at least 16 bit = 2 bytes, alternatively of 32 bit = 4 bytes per character. Although the conversion effort for the R/3 kernel and applications is considerable, the migration to Unicode provides great benefits in the long run:

ABAP programs must be modified wherever an explicit or implicit assumption is made with regard to the internal length of a character. As a result, a new level of abstraction is reached which makes it possible to run one and the same program both in conventional and in Unicode systems. In addition, if new characters are added to the Unicode character set, SAP can decide whether to represent these characters internally using 2 or 4 bytes.


The examples presented in the following sections are based on a Unicode encoding using 2 bytes per character.

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