8-Bit Unicode Transformation Format

What Does 8-Bit Unicode Transformation Format Mean?

8-bit Unicode Transformation Format (UTF-8) is a relatively new code convention for encoding various characters. It is a standard for character identity and a reference for a wide variety of programming languages and devices, including computers and mobile devices. The UTF-8 protocol helps to standardize the display of letters, numbers and other characters.


UTF-8 is also known as RFC 2279.

Techopedia Explains 8-Bit Unicode Transformation Format

In many cases, UTF-8 replaces an older convention called American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). ASCII handled all of the characters necessary for English language text, but UTF-8 handles more diverse sets of symbols for other languages that do not use the English language, or Roman alphabet. UTF-8 is considered backward-compatible with ASCII.

Some programmers question whether ASCII encoding needs to be updated to UTF-8, but in many cases, the migration is required in order to comply with industry standards. Proponents of UTF-8 point out that this more inclusive system enables a greater diversity of display and character use for a given device or piece of code.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…