23.5 Unicode

Unicode is a global character set that allows multilingual text to be displayed in a single application. This enables multinational corporations to develop a single multilingual application and deploy it worldwide.

Global markets require a character set that:

  • Allows a single implementation of a product for all languages, yet is simple enough to be implemented everywhere.

  • Contains all major living scripts.

  • Supports multilingual users and organizations.

  • Enables worldwide interchange of data through the Internet.

This section discusses the following aspects of Unicode in Oracle Reports:

23.5.1 Unicode Support

Oracle Reports Services provides Unicode support. On UNIX platforms, Unicode support has certain limitations; for example:

  • Unicode is not supported in PostScript output format on UNIX.

  • In other bitmap output formats, such as PDF and RTF, you may observe font issues such as character misalignment on UNIX.

For information on how to resolve such issues, refer to Section 12.3.2, "Fixing Font-Related Issues".

If you use Unicode, you are able to display multiple languages, both single-byte languages such as Western European, Eastern European, Bidirectional Middle Eastern, and multibyte Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) in the same application.

Use of a single character set that encompasses all languages eliminates the need to have various character sets for various languages. For example, to display a multibyte language such as Japanese, the NLS_LANG environment variable must be set to the following:


To display a single-byte language such as German, NLS_LANG must be set to the following:


The obvious disadvantage of this scheme is that applications can only display characters from one character set at a time. Mixed character set data is not possible.

With the Unicode character set, you can set the character set portion of NLS_LANG to UTF8 instead of a specific language character set. This allows characters from different languages and character sets to be displayed simultaneously. For example, to display Japanese and German together on the screen, the character set portion of the NLS_LANG environment variable must be set to UTF8, along with the appropriate language_territory setting. For example:


Unicode capability gives the application developer and end user the ability to display multilingual text in a report. This includes text from a database containing Unicode characters, multilingual boilerplate text, text in graphical user interface (GUI) objects, text input from the keyboard, and text from the clipboard.


If you develop applications for the Web, then you can use Unicode because of the Unicode support provided by Java through the browser.

23.5.2 Unicode Font Support

To enter text in a particular language, you must be running a version of the operating system that supports that language. Also, depending on the output format type, Oracle Reports Services relies on the operating system for the font for different languages, as described in Chapter 9, "Managing Fonts in Oracle Reports".

Windows provides True Type Big Fonts. These fonts contain the characters necessary to display or print text from more than one language. For example, if you try to type, display, or print Western European, Central European, and Arabic text on a field and see unexpected characters, then you are probably not using a Big Font. Big Fonts for single-byte languages provided by Microsoft Windows are Arial, Courier New, and Times New Roman. For more information, go to Microsoft's Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/typography/fonts/default.aspx.

Oracle provides two Unicode fonts for Western European, Central European, Cyrillic, Greek, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Baltic, Vietnamese, Thai, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Traditional Chinese:

  • Albany WT fonts (proportional width) are available in Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g Release 1 (11.1.1) MRUA CD.

  • Andale Duospace WT fonts (fixed width) can be downloaded from Oracle Metalink (http://metalink.oracle.com). The ARU number is 2638552.

Third-party Unicode fonts are also available.

23.5.3 Enabling Unicode Support

To enable Unicode support, set the NLS_LANG environment variable as follows:


Refer to Section 23.2, "Globalization Support Environment Variables" for more information about environment variables.