Home » C++ » UTF8 to/from wide char conversion in STL

UTF8 to/from wide char conversion in STL

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

Is it possible to convert UTF8 string in a std::string to std::wstring and vice versa in a platform independent manner? In a Windows application I would use MultiByteToWideChar and WideCharToMultiByte. However, the code is compiled for multiple OSes and I’m limited to standard C++ library.

Answers:

I’ve asked this question 5 years ago. This thread was very helpful for me back then, I came to a conclusion, then I moved on with my project. It is funny that I needed something similar recently, totally unrelated to that project from the past. As I was researching for possible solutions, I stumbled upon my own question 🙂

The solution I chose now is based on C++11. The boost libraries that Constantin mentions in his answer are now part of the standard. If we replace std::wstring with the new string type std::u16string, then the conversions will look like this:

UTF-8 to UTF-16

std::string source;
...
std::wstring_convert<std::codecvt_utf8_utf16<char16_t>,char16_t> convert;
std::u16string dest = convert.from_bytes(source);    

UTF-16 to UTF-8

std::u16string source;
...
std::wstring_convert<std::codecvt_utf8_utf16<char16_t>,char16_t> convert;
std::string dest = convert.to_bytes(source);    

As seen from the other answers, there are multiple approaches to the problem. That’s why I refrain from picking an accepted answer.

Questions:
Answers:

UTF8-CPP: UTF-8 with C++ in a Portable Way

Questions:
Answers:

You can extract utf8_codecvt_facet from Boost serialization library.

Their usage example:

  typedef wchar_t ucs4_t;

  std::locale old_locale;
  std::locale utf8_locale(old_locale,new utf8_codecvt_facet<ucs4_t>);

  // Set a New global locale
  std::locale::global(utf8_locale);

  // Send the UCS-4 data out, converting to UTF-8
  {
    std::wofstream ofs("data.ucd");
    ofs.imbue(utf8_locale);
    std::copy(ucs4_data.begin(),ucs4_data.end(),
          std::ostream_iterator<ucs4_t,ucs4_t>(ofs));
  }

  // Read the UTF-8 data back in, converting to UCS-4 on the way in
  std::vector<ucs4_t> from_file;
  {
    std::wifstream ifs("data.ucd");
    ifs.imbue(utf8_locale);
    ucs4_t item = 0;
    while (ifs >> item) from_file.push_back(item);
  }

Look for utf8_codecvt_facet.hpp and utf8_codecvt_facet.cpp files in boost sources.

Questions:
Answers:

The problem definition explicitly states that the 8-bit character encoding is UTF-8. That makes this a trivial problem; all it requires is a little bit-twiddling to convert from one UTF spec to another.

Just look at the encodings on these Wikipedia pages for UTF-8, UTF-16, and UTF-32.

The principle is simple – go through the input and assemble a 32-bit Unicode code point according to one UTF spec, then emit the code point according to the other spec. The individual code points need no translation, as would be required with any other character encoding; that’s what makes this a simple problem.

Here’s a quick implementation of wchar_t to UTF-8 conversion and vice versa. It assumes that the input is already properly encoded – the old saying “Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. I believe that verifying the encoding is best done as a separate step.

std::string wchar_to_UTF8(const wchar_t * in)
{
    std::string out;
    unsigned int codepoint = 0;
    for (in;  *in != 0;  ++in)
    {
        if (*in >= 0xd800 && *in <= 0xdbff)
            codepoint = ((*in - 0xd800) << 10) + 0x10000;
        else
        {
            if (*in >= 0xdc00 && *in <= 0xdfff)
                codepoint |= *in - 0xdc00;
            else
                codepoint = *in;

            if (codepoint <= 0x7f)
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(codepoint));
            else if (codepoint <= 0x7ff)
            {
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0xc0 | ((codepoint >> 6) & 0x1f)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0x80 | (codepoint & 0x3f)));
            }
            else if (codepoint <= 0xffff)
            {
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0xe0 | ((codepoint >> 12) & 0x0f)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0x80 | ((codepoint >> 6) & 0x3f)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0x80 | (codepoint & 0x3f)));
            }
            else
            {
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0xf0 | ((codepoint >> 18) & 0x07)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0x80 | ((codepoint >> 12) & 0x3f)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0x80 | ((codepoint >> 6) & 0x3f)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<char>(0x80 | (codepoint & 0x3f)));
            }
            codepoint = 0;
        }
    }
    return out;
}

The above code works for both UTF-16 and UTF-32 input, simply because the range d800 through dfff are invalid code points; they indicate that you’re decoding UTF-16. If you know that wchar_t is 32 bits then you could remove some code to optimize the function.

std::wstring UTF8_to_wchar(const char * in)
{
    std::wstring out;
    unsigned int codepoint;
    while (*in != 0)
    {
        unsigned char ch = static_cast<unsigned char>(*in);
        if (ch <= 0x7f)
            codepoint = ch;
        else if (ch <= 0xbf)
            codepoint = (codepoint << 6) | (ch & 0x3f);
        else if (ch <= 0xdf)
            codepoint = ch & 0x1f;
        else if (ch <= 0xef)
            codepoint = ch & 0x0f;
        else
            codepoint = ch & 0x07;
        ++in;
        if (((*in & 0xc0) != 0x80) && (codepoint <= 0x10ffff))
        {
            if (sizeof(wchar_t) > 2)
                out.append(1, static_cast<wchar_t>(codepoint));
            else if (codepoint > 0xffff)
            {
                out.append(1, static_cast<wchar_t>(0xd800 + (codepoint >> 10)));
                out.append(1, static_cast<wchar_t>(0xdc00 + (codepoint & 0x03ff)));
            }
            else if (codepoint < 0xd800 || codepoint >= 0xe000)
                out.append(1, static_cast<wchar_t>(codepoint));
        }
    }
    return out;
}

Again if you know that wchar_t is 32 bits you could remove some code from this function, but in this case it shouldn’t make any difference. The expression sizeof(wchar_t) > 2 is known at compile time, so any decent compiler will recognize dead code and remove it.

Questions:
Answers:

There are several ways to do this, but the results depend on what the character encodings are in the string and wstring variables.

If you know the string is ASCII, you can simply use wstring‘s iterator constructor:

string s = "This is surely ASCII.";
wstring w(s.begin(), s.end());

If your string has some other encoding, however, you’ll get very bad results. If the encoding is Unicode, you could take a look at the ICU project, which provides a cross-platform set of libraries that convert to and from all sorts of Unicode encodings.

If your string contains characters in a code page, then may $DEITY have mercy on your soul.

Questions:
Answers:

ConvertUTF.h
ConvertUTF.c

Credit to bames53 for providing updated versions

Questions:
Answers:

You can use the codecvt locale facet. There’s a specific specialisation defined, codecvt<wchar_t, char, mbstate_t> that may be of use to you, although, the behaviour of that is system-specific, and does not guarantee conversion to UTF-8 in any way.

Questions:
Answers:

UTFConverter – check out this library.
It does such a convertion, but you need also ConvertUTF class – I’ve found it here

Questions:
Answers:

I don’t think there’s a portable way of doing this. C++ doesn’t know the encoding of its multibyte characters.

As Chris suggested, your best bet is to play with codecvt.