I just received a query from someone who wanted to know how to figure out what characters are in and what characters are not in a particular legacy character encoding. So rather than just send the information to her I thought I’d write it as a blog post so that others can get the same information. I’m going to write this quickly, so let me know if there are parts that are hard to follow, or that you consider incorrect, and I’ll fix it.

A few preliminary notes to set us up: When I refer to ‘legacy encodings’, I mean any character encoding that isn’t UTF-8. Though, actually, I will only consider those that are specified in the Encoding spec, and I will use the data provided by that spec to determine what characters each encoding contains (since that’s what it aims to do for Web-based content). You may come across other implementations of a given character encoding, with different characters in it, but bear in mind that those are unlikely to work on the Web.

Also, the tools I will use refer to a given character encoding using the preferred name. You can use the table in the Encoding spec to map alternative names to the preferred name I use.

What characters are in encoding X?

Let’s suppose you want to know what characters are in the character encoding you know as cseucpkdfmtjapanese. A quick check in the Encoding spec shows that the preferred name for this encoding is euc-jp.

Go to http://r12a.github.io/apps/encodings/ and look for the selection control near the bottom of the page labelled show all the characters in this encoding.

Select euc-jp. It opens a new window that shows you all the characters.

picture of the result

This is impressive, but so large a list that it’s not as useful as it could be.

So highlight and copy all the characters in the text area and go to https://r12a.github.io/apps/listcharacters/.

Paste the characters into the big empty box, and hit the button Analyse characters above.

This will now list for you those same characters, but organised by Unicode block. At the bottom of the page it gives a total character count, and adds up the number of Unicode blocks involved.

picture of the result

What characters are not in encoding X?

If instead you actually want to know what characters are not in the encoding for a given Unicode block you can follow these steps.

Go to UniView (http://r12a.github.io/uniview/) and select the block you are interested where is says Show block, or alternatively type the range into the control labelled Show range (eg. 0370:03FF).

Let’s imagine you are interested in Greek characters and you have therefore selected the Greek and Coptic block (or typed 0370:03FF in the Show range control).

On the edit buffer area (top right) you’ll see a small icon with an arrow point upwards. Click on this to bring all the characters in the block into the edit buffer area. Then hit the icon just to its left to highlight all the characters and then copy them to the clipboard.

picture of the result

Next open http://r12a.github.io/apps/encodings/ and paste the characters into the input area labelled with Unicode characters to encode, and hit the Convert button.

picture of the result

The Encoding converter app will list all the characters in a number of encodings. If the character is part of the encoding, it will be represented as two-digit hex codes. If not, and this is what you’re looking for, it will be represented as decimal HTML escapes (eg. Ͱ). This way you can get the decimal code point values for all the characters not in the encoding. (If all the characters exist in the encoding, the block will turn green.)

(If you want to see the list of characters, copy the results for the encoding you are interested in, go back to UniView and paste the characters into the input field labelled Find. Then click on Dec. Ignore all ASCII characters in the list that is produced.)

Note, by the way, that you can tailor the encodings that are shown by the Encoding converter by clicking on change encodings shown and then selecting the encodings you are interested in. There are 36 to choose from.