> I have observed that there are a couple of character sets that are
> frequently specified in the meta tags. From my cursory review of public Web
> sites, it appears that the character set is either UTF-8 or ISO-8859-1
> I am wondering what is the importance of this meta tag, and what are the
> important implications of specifying one character set over the other in
> ASP.NET pages? What does it matter to the server, if anything? What does it
> matter to the browser, if anything?
Very short answer: that meta tells the browser what the encoding of the web
page is. If the browser gets the code page wrong, some characters will
ISO-8859-1 can only be used for western-european languages, but even there is
lacking (no copyright, trademark, smart quotes, m-dash, n-dash, etc.)
(it is possible to use any character in a ISO-8859-1 page by using html
entities, some of them symbolic (think ©
, some with Unicode values
UTF-8 can support any language, no problems. Recently utf-8 passed 50% for
all the web pages: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13580_3-9936329-39.html
In the ASP.NET world, everything is Unicode. In the Windows
NT/2000/Vista/XP/2003 world, everything is Unicode again.
So going thru a iso-8859-1 has a performace penalty both on server side,
and on client side. Plus risk of corrupted characters.
At this time and age, there is no good reason to stay with iso-8859-1, unless
you are forced for some bad legacy stuff (and even there, you should consider
going unicode and converting "at the edge").
And you will be happy with the decision when marketing will come with the
first request for a language not supported by iso-8859-1 :-)
Mihai Nita [Microsoft MVP, Visual C++] http://www.mihai-nita.net
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