UNICODE/Wide Characters handling in C++

I was bitten again.

Life was never meant to be easier, and it’s tougher when you come to deal with wide characters in C++ with wfstream, wcout or any other WIDE versions of standard I/O facilities.

Two Rule of Thumbs:

#1 Unicode files must be opened as binary


std::wifstream xmlFile(m_FileName, ios::binary);

std::wofstream xmlFile(m_FileName, ios::binary);

#2 when working with languages other than English, wifstream/wofstream must be imbued with a non-default facet to read from or write to a real UNICOE file, or else wofstream ends up writing an ANSI file.

An explanation is available from here .


  1:  wstring ws(L"this is a wide string"); 
  2:  wofstream of_imbued;
  4:  IMBUE_NULL_CODECVT(of_imbued); 
  6:  of_imbued.open(L"c:\\imbued.txt", ios::binary);
  7:  of_imbued<<ws.c_str(); 
  9:  wofstream of_not_imbued;
 10:  of_not_imbued.open(L"c:\\not_imbued.txt", ios::binary);
 11:  of_not_imbued<<ws.c_str();

Outputs of the above code:

Two imbue facilities are available:

Boost Library

imbue_null_codecvt (the one used in above example)

There’s also a classical  C way to write UNICODE files:

  1: wchar_t myWString[] = L"Some strange characters." 
  2: fwrite(myWString, sizeof(wchar_t), sizeof(myWString)/sizeof(wchar_t), 
  3: myFile ); 

However, it is not portable.


  1. Unicode Implementation


  1. Unicode in C++


  1. how to read a Unicode file with fstream?


  1. A very puzzling problem: cout vs. wcout, fstream vs. wfstream


  1. Upgrading an STL-based application to use Unicode


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