In the previous video we talked about some of the most popular data types. We are going to discuss them in more detail. The data type we are going to start with is CHAR and NCHAR. I told you of both of these but I never explained the difference. That's because there is some other stuff I need to explain before I can explain the difference. This has to deal with what is known as character sets.
When you have a string, there are only so many characters you are allowed to store in that string. The characters you are allowed to store is determined by what is known as the character set.
A common character set is ASCII. This character set allows you to store English characters, numbers, and some symbols. ASCII started with 127 characters, and then they came out with the ASCII extended, which allows for up to 255 characters. Even with 255 characters though, we are limited in what we can store using one character set. If the computer only allows ASCII, we are going to be limited when working with different languages. Of course it works for some situations, but globalization of software has been a big thing with the development of the interwebs …and the movement towards a new world order (Revelation 13:7).
That means that ASCII is no longer the best character set. It has largely been replaced with a character set known as Unicode. Oracle has a few Unicode character sets that we can use when we work with string data.
When you start studying character sets, I can promise that you will run across the word encoding. Encoding refers to the way that the allowed characters can be stored on the computer. A computer doesn't just store a letter, everything has to be stored in binary. Unicode is the character set, but it has numerous different encodings. Essentially, the computer can store the same characters in multiple different ways, depending on which encoding is used.
The most popular encodings for Unicode are UTF-8 and UTF-16. UTF stands for Unicode Transformation Format. In the next video we will be discussing these in detail and express their differences. Once we got that down, we'll be able to loop back around to data types.
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