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For Streams, we need encodings support. There also should be a low-level API available for this.


Encoding Names

The encoding names should be among those supported by ICONV, which seem to be a superset of http://www.iana.org/assignments/character-sets.

The following encodings are required:

  • UTF-8
  • UTF-16
  • ISO-8859-1

Encoding names must be case insensitive


OK, so probably this should be a module:

var enc = require('encodings')

Simple methods

For convenience, there should be these easy methods for converting between encodings:

string = enc.convertToString(sourceEncoding, byteStringOrArray)
Converts a ByteString or a ByteArray to a Javascript string.
byteString = enc.convertFromString(targetEncoding, string)
Converts a Javascript string to a ByteString.
byteString = enc.convert(sourceEncoding, targetEncoding, byteStringOrArray)
Converts a ByteString or a ByteArray to a ByteString.

Checking for available encodings

Checks if encodingName is supported and return true if so, false otherwise.
enc.listEncodings([encodingCheckerFunction or regex])
encodingCheckerFunction takes the encoding name as a parameter and returns true-ish if the encoding should be listed. Regexes should also be supported. If the parameter is missing, returns all supported encodings.

Class: Transcoder

There also should be a class enc.Transcoder for general transcoding conversion (between ByteStrings or ByteArrays).

[Constructor] Transcoder(from, to)
Where from and to are the encoding names.
[Constant] sourceCharset
String containing the (possibly normalised) source charset name.
[Constant] destinationCharset
String containing the (possibly normalised) destination charset name.
[Method] push(byteStringOrArray[, outputByteArray])
Convert input from a ByteString or ByteArray. Those parts of byteStringOrArray that could not be converted (for multi-byte encodings) are stored in a buffer. If outputByteArray is passed, the results are appended to outputByteArray.
If outputByteArray was passed, returns outputByteArray, otherwise returns the converted bytes as a ByteString.
The result will also contain bytes accumulated in prior calls to pushAccumulate.
[Method] pushAccumulate(byteStringOrArray)
Convert input from a ByteString or ByteArray into an internal buffer that will be read out the next time push or close is called.
[Method] close([outputByteArray])
Close the stream. Throws an exception if there was a conversion error (specifically, a partial multibyte character).
Writes the remaining output bytes (including those that were accumulated in pushAccumulate) into the here given outputByteArray (appended) or a new ByteString. If outputByteArray is given, it is returned, otherwise the ByteString is returned.
Also adds initial shift state sequences if required by the encoding.

TODO: Which exception to throw on error?

Usage examples


Transcoder = require('encodings').Transcoder
transcoder = new Transcoder('iso-8859-1', 'utf-32')
transcoder.pushAccumulate(input) // input is a ByteString
output = transcoder.close() // and output is a ByteString too

Another example:

transcoder = new Transcoder('utf-32', 'utf-8')
output = new ByteArray()
while (input = readSomeByteFromSomewhere()) {
        transcoder.push(input, output)
// output is the complete conversion of all the input chunks concatenated now

(See Encodings/OldClass for another API.)

Stateful encodings

Some encodings can carry state across many characters - state which has to be reset at the end of a conversion. This creates the need to always call transcoder.close(output) after converting. The simple methods take care of that already. An example of such an encoding would be ISO-2022-JP, a Japanese encoding. This encoding is compatible with ASCII as long as it is in the initial state. But there is an escape sequence (actually more than one: ESC ( J, ESC $ @ and ESC $ B) to get into Kana/Kanji mode, and another escape sequence to get back into ASCII mode: ESC ( B. So a reader of ISO-2022-JP content assumes that, initially, the encoding is in ASCII mode, and as soon as it sees an escape sequence, switches into another mode. Therefore, in order to be able to concatenate files, ISO-2022-JP files should end with ESC ( B if they are in non-ASCII mode at the end.

      // Te Su To - thanks to miwagawa
      katakana_string = "\u30c6\u30b9\u30c8",
      katakana_shift_jis = binary.ByteString([
      // Shift to JIS X 0208-1983
      iso2022_FROM_ascii = [ 0x1b,0x24,0x42 ],
      // Shift to ASCII
      iso2022_TO_ascii   = [ 0x1b,0x28,0x42 ],
      katakana_iso2022 = binary.ByteString(
        ], iso2022_TO_ascii)

If you transcode as in the examples above, this should work.

Flusspferd has some tests for these things in http://github.com/ruediger/flusspferd/blob/master/test/js/encodings.t.js

Implementation Recommendations

First of all, it is recommended to implement convertToString, convertFromString and convert with Transcoder.

Secondly, you should make sure that initial shift state support is properly implemented. When you're using iconv, you need to call iconv(cd, 0, 0, &ob, &ol) in Transcoder.close(). An example of what an initial shift state is: In the Japanese ISO-2022-JP encoding, the default state are ASCII bytes. However, the state can be switched to Japanese with an escape sequence. To make sure that at the end of the text, the state is ASCII again, iconv will emit another escape sequence to switch back again. This is important if you want to concatenate ISO-2022-JP texts, and an implementation of Transcoder that doesn't properly emit these sequences is broken.

Relevant Discussions


Flusspferd's implementation is documented here and here.