Easysoft Data Access

What is a Unicode ODBC Driver and is the Easysoft driver one?

Last Reviewed:
23rd January 2024

Unicode provides a method of encoding national characters and symbols. The 8-bit character sets originally supported by ODBC limited character data to a maximum of 256 different characters.

Although many systems exist to extend this limit via translator libraries and through the use of "Code Pages", none of these are sufficient for character sets with more than 256 individual symbols or for applications needing to access different sets of national characters concurrently. There are various methods of doing this, and ODBC and InterBase/Firebird use two slightly different encoding formats.

ODBC has provided "Wide" data types for some time, but until ODBC 3.51 there was no consistent Unicode interface. A Unicode ODBC driver enables all string input and output to be presented in Unicode, so not only can data be returned from a database in Unicode, but SQL queries may also be executed in Unicode.

While the ODBC version of Unicode provides for 16 bits per symbol, InterBase/Firebird uses a more advanced encoding method called UTF-8, where the length of individual symbols may vary from 8 to 32 bits. Typically, an InterBase/Firebird database will be created using an extended character set, UNICODE_FSS being the full Unicode set.

The Easysoft driver transparently converts between these two formats, enabling Unicode-ready applications (such as Microsoft Access) to display and modify Unicode data in InterBase/Firebird databases. It can be said to be a Unicode ODBC driver.

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