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mIRC v7.1 languages and codepages

Posted By: Khaled

mIRC v7.1 languages and codepages - 31/07/10 11:14 AM

As some of you may have noticed, the new version of mIRC no longer supports codepages. This is because mIRC is now a Unicode application and can display all languages equally using UTF-8 encoded text. Ideally, the aim is to make IRC as a whole non-reliant on codepages, so that everyone will be able to view all characters in all languages.

In older versions of mIRC, every user had to manually configure each of their status/channel/query windows with a specific font and codepage to display one particular language, and this only worked for that language. If someone new joined the channel, or someone joined that channel and spoke a different language, text would appear as garbage to them and to others. The use of UTF-8 means that none of that is necessary any more. Everyone on IRC will be able to read everyone else's text, regardless of language, without any fiddling or configuring of codepages.

The issue with codepages is most obvious in the channels list window. The channels list window lists thousands of channel names and topics, many of which use codepage-specific encodings. However the window can only display text using one codepage. This means that channel names or topics not using that codepage will be displayed as garbage. The same issue applies to all channel and query windows where users chat in multiple languages.

While it may seem that mIRC v6.35 handles codepages correctly, there are a large number of situations where it cannot do so due to a lack of context, just like in the channels list window, and many users have reported issues, such as corrupted text and incorrect encodings, over the years. It would not be possible to add codepage support to mIRC v7.1 without leading to the same issues that were present in all previous versions of mIRC.

Some IRC clients support "hybrid" encodings that combine both UTF-8 and a specific codepage. Unfortunately if mIRC had done that it would have created even more confusion since the result would not have been valid UTF-8 and the codepage issues would have continued.

During the development of the Unicode version of mIRC, the choice was either to continue to support codepages, along with all the encoding issues that come with them that affect all users, and to perpetuate these problems for many years to come, or to try to resolve the issue once and for all, for IRC as a whole, by moving fully to UTF-8.

I realize this is going to be an issue for some users - there are many networks/servers/channels that use codepage-specific encodings. I am hoping that the benefit of UTF-8, which has been supported by mIRC since 2006, will be enough of an incentive to convince users to move away from codepages.
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