End Language Compatibility Problems with Unicode

  • by Matt Kangas, SAP NetWeaver Product Manager, SAP
  • Anthony Andreacchio, SAP NetWeaver Product Manager, SAP
  • October 15, 2005
To be a globally competitive company, you need rapid access to critical data in a wide variety of formats and languages. Learn how Unicode makes this possible in your SAP ERP system, and gain an understanding of its technical requirements and restrictions.
Key Concept
In the past, hundreds of different and sometimes conflicting encoding systems represented the characters required for different languages. Unlike standard SAP code pages that hold multiple language keys, Unicode defines a character set that includes virtually all characters used in the world and provides a consistent, global character encoding. The size and scope of Unicode have made it the default character-encoding schema of Internet communication such as XML, Java, and HTML. The Unicode consortium of leading companies in the IT industry defines Unicode. See www.unicode.org for additional information.

Before BW 3.5, the first version of BW that is Unicode compliant, it was impossible to create BW reports in multiple languages on one system. Unicode allows you to have multiple language capabilities with SAP NetWeaver BI by addressing the problem of multiple, possibly incompatible code pages. It defines more than 98,000 characters, classifying each character once, with room for more than 1 million characters. Unicode allocates each character with an individual number regardless of the platform, program, or language. That not only allows the application to expand the computer’s supply of characters, but it also maintains a trouble-free understanding among the different language components within a system.

You can use Unicode for the system code page, front end, and printing. In an SAP system that is Unicode compliant, you can display and maintain character data from any language with any logon language. Unicode provides a widespread, accepted international standard that supports virtually all the world’s scripts. This helps avoid potential conflicts between individual platforms and languages. SAP NetWeaver BI supports the Unicode standard to aid your globalization and localization efforts. This means that SAP NetWeaver BI can:

  • Interpret and display Unicode characters

  • Extract data from source systems with specific code pages (non-Unicode or Unicode)

  • Extract data from an SAP source system running mixed code pages (Multiple Display, Multiple Processing [MDMP], the old technology for mixing incompatible non-Unicode code pages)

  • Interface to third-party systems and support correct code page conversion

All SAP software will be Unicode compliant by 2007. SAP has already stopped supporting multiple code page systems. When you upgrade, you may choose a Unicode or non-Unicode system, but only the Unicode system allows you to report in multiple languages that you can use concurrently and in any combination. We will explain the technical requirements, restrictions, and prerequisites of Unicode so that you will be better prepared for this transition.

Matt Kangas

Matt Kangas works for SAP Labs as a US product manager for SAP NetWeaver Application Server. He specializes in systems topics including architecture, software lifecycle management, platforms, ITS, high availability, installations, upgrades, and monitoring. Matt has lent his multiple skills and talents to SAP for more than seven years, and spent more than five years in the field as a Basis consultant.

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Anthony Andreacchio

Anthony Andreacchio has more than eight years of SAP experience. He has been a BW product manager for more than four years.

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