Choices, choices: Using Unicode in Azure SQL Database

As businesses and applications reach global scale, you know that Azure SQL Database can support international applications using Unicode. And you’ve been working with SQL Server for long, so handling and storing strings is not a mystery. Or is it? It depends – it’s all about knowing what’s there, and making informed choices when you design the database.

In order to support UNICODE, special data types like NVARCHAR and NCHAR, were added in earlier versions of SQL Server. Originally, those data types used UCS-2 encoding, which support 65536 code points using 2 bytes. UTF-16 encoding was added to support 1114112 code points using 2 or 4 bytes.

Azure SQL Database and SQL Server 2019 introduce support for UTF-8 and with that, deliver on a decade old request.

In this session we will fix some misconceptions about concepts like characters, SET characters, code points, coding characters, SET code, coding values, collection. Learn what encoding you would like to use for your scenario and how to apply it, and the relationship between collection, data type, and encoding. Learn what the differences are in performance and even start some SQL Server myths along the way.

Level 300-400

Ronen Ariely

Senior consultant and architect, data platform and application development.

Tel Aviv, Israel


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