IS: UTF-8 with BOM (100.html)

A text file can be encoded as UTF-8 or as UTF-8 with BOM. This article will try to explain the difference.

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StackOverflow

What's different between UTF-8 and UTF-8 without a BOM? Which is better?

What does "better" mean? "Shorter"? "More Portable"?
Answer: UTF-8 can be auto-detected better by contents than by BOM. The method is simple: try to read the file (or a string) as UTF-8 and if that succeeds, assume that the data is UTF-8. Otherwise assume that it is CP1252 (or some other 8 bit encoding). Any non-UTF-8 eight bit encoding will almost certainly contain sequences that are not permitted by UTF-8. Pure ASCII (7 bit) gets interpreted as UTF-8, but the result is correct that way too. – Tronic

Scanning large files for UTF-8 content takes time. A BOM makes this process much faster. In practice you often need to do both. The culprit nowadays is that still a lot of text content isn't Unicode, and I still bump into tools that say they do Unicode (for instance UTF-8) but emit their content a different codepage. – Jeroen Wiert Pluimers

UTF-8 does not have a BOM. When you put a U+FEFF code point at the start of a UTF-8 file, special care must be made to deal with it. This is just one of those Microsoft naming lies, like calling an encoding "Unicode" when there is no such thing. – tchrist

The UTF-8 BOM is a sequence of bytes (EF BB BF) that allows the reader to identify a file as being encoded in UTF-8.

Normally, the BOM is used to signal the endianness of an encoding, but since endianness is irrelevant to UTF-8, the BOM is unnecessary.

According to the Unicode standard, the BOM for UTF-8 files is not recommended:

.. Use of a BOM is neither required nor recommended for UTF-8, but may be encountered in contexts where UTF-8 data is converted from other encoding forms that use a BOM or where the BOM is used as a UTF-8 signature. See the “Byte Order Mark” subsection in Section 16.8, Specials , for more information.

It might not be recommended but it did wonders to my powershell script when trying to output "æøå" – Marius

Regardless of it not being recommended by the standard, it's allowed, and I greatly prefer having something to act as a UTF-8 signature rather the alternatives of assuming or guessing. Unicode-compliant software should/must be able to deal with its presence, so I personally encourage its use. – martineau

@bames53: Yes, in an ideal world storing the encoding of text files as file system metadata would be a better way to preserve it. But most of us living in the real world can't change the file system of the OS(s) our programs get run on -- so using the Unicode standard's platform-independent BOM signature seems like the best and most practical alternative IMHO. – martineau

@martineau Just yesterday I ran into a file with a UTF-8 BOM that wasn't UTF-8 (it was CP936). What's unfortunate is that the ones responsible for the immense amount of pain cause[d] by the UTF-8 BOM are largely oblivious to it. – bames53

The other excellent answers already answered that:

-There is no official difference between UTF-8 and BOM-ed UTF-8 -A BOM-ed UTF-8 string will start with the three following bytes. EF BB BF -Those bytes, if present, must be ignored when extracting the string from the file/stream.

But, as additional information to this, the BOM for UTF-8 could be a good way to "smell" if a string was encoded in UTF-8... Or it could be a legitimate string in any other encoding...

For example, the data [EF BB BF 41 42 43] could either be:

-The legitimate ISO-8859-1 string "ABC"
-The legitimate the UTF-8 string "ABC"

So while it can be cool to recognize the encoding of a file content by looking at the first bytes, you should not rely on this, as show by the example above

@Alcott : You understood correctly. The string [EF BB BF 41 42 43] is just a bunch of bytes. You need external information to choose how to interpret it. If you believe those bytes were encoded using ISO-8859-1, then the string is "ABC". If you believe those bytes were encoded using UTF-8, then it is "ABC". If you don't know, then you must try to find out. The BOM could be a clue. The absence of invalid character[s] when decoded as UTF-8 could be another... In the end, unless you can memorize/find he encoding somehow, ant array of bytes is just an array of bytes. – paercebal

-------------------------------------------------------------------
| Conclusion/Suggestion: When you receive a file that you believe |
| is a normal text file, if you see no invalid characters, then   |
| treat the file as a normal text file.  If invalid characters    |
| appear, then prefix the file with EF BB BF without any Carriage |
| Return or Line Feed, and try to read it again.  If the invalid  |
| characters disappear, you have fixed your problem by inserting  |
| a BOM. If you don't know how to insert the hexadecimal          |
| characters EF BB BF, get someone to help you do it.             |
|                                                                 |
| If you send a text file to someone and they say that it appears |
| to have invalid characters in it, prefix the file by EF BB BF   |
| and resend it to them.  If they say that the problem is now     |
| solved,you "have added a BOM" to solve the problem.             |
|                                                                 |
| But do NOT prefix EF BB BF to every text file that you send     |
| (or receive) just because you read this article.                |
|    - David KC Cole                                              |
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External References (Sources)

Source 1:www Stack Overflow - UTF with BOM? by various programmers

WebMaster: Ye Old King Cole

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Date Written: 2015 K Nov 12

Last Updated: 2015 K Nov 08

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