Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Share Your Unicode Migration Story

Delphi developers everywhere (and I am including C++Builder developers here), I am asking for your help in preparing a white paper that I hope will serve the greater community for a long time to come. I have been asked to assemble a white paper on Unicode migration for Delphi and C++ developers, and I want to hear your story.

When Senior Director of Delphi Solutions Mike Rozlog originally approached me about putting together this paper, I was enthusiastic. However, there was a slight problem.

While I can easily write about issues concerning the size of PChars or the ins-and-outs of the new UnicodeString type, I felt that this white paper was too important to simply repeat the obvious. Instead, I really wanted to go for an “in the real world this is what you have to do” approach. And while it is a noble goal, it is simply too much for one developer. We each have our specializations, and each of us, if we do run into migration problems, is going to do so in our particular domain.

For example, I am primarily a database developer, and I often work at a pretty high level; querying databases, building user interfaces, generating reports, you know, the bread-and-butter kind of stuff. And as far as Unicode migration goes, I’ve got it easy. Several of my larger applications have converted with few or no problems.

But some of you work much closer to the metal, making extensive use of calls to the operating system API, using sophisticated third-party libraries, manipulating data at the bit and byte level, and generally working in a world where the size of characters and strings matters. If so, your Unicode migration has likely encountered challenges, some incidental and some significant, that you’ve had to solve along the way. It’s these real world stories that I want to hear about.

Now, you might be wondering, why have I been asked to write this white paper, given that I don’t normally have to deal with some of the more serious Unicode migration issues? It’s a valid question, and there is an equally valid answer. Another of my skills, beyond software development, is the ability to communicate clearly and simply about complex topics. With your input, I intend to produce a white paper that is organized, clear, and helpful to those whose Unicode migration is not yet started or complete. And, I want the paper to reflect the wealth of experience of the collective Delphi community on the subject, not just my own experience.

Here is what I am looking for. If you have solved a Unicode-related challenge in converting existing code or techniques to Delphi 2009 or later, I want your input. The basic input that I need is your name and email address (so I can contact you if I have questions), the company you work for (if you are willing to share that), a description of the problem, and a description of the solution. Code samples that demonstrate the problem and solution are preferred (though we do not want anything that is proprietary or non-disclosable).

If your solution is included in the white paper, you will be recognized for your contribution by name, unless you specifically request to remain anonymous.

You can email your contribution to Tim Del Chiaro at Alternatively, you can submit your contribution using the Get Published interface at the Embarcadero Developer Network (EDN). A detailed description of how to submit your contribution can be found in the EDN article located

Of course, you can also send questions or contributions to me at Please include the words “Unicode migration” in the subject line. Please also feel free to contact me if you need help putting together your story.

We are looking to release this white paper as soon as possible, so we necessarily have to set a deadline for contributions. Please submit your Unicode migration story by 5:00pm (GMT-8), November 27th, 2009.

Now, finally, a few words to please the Lawyers. Any Unicode migration contribution you send to me, Tim Del Chiaro, or upload to the Get Published interface, will be interpreted as explicit permission from you for Embarcadero Technologies to include your contribution, or descriptions of it, in the Unicode migration white paper, as well as in any other form, and that you have the right to grant this permission.

Thank you for your consideration. I sincerely hope to hear from many of you with your stories, and look forward to producing a paper that will help all Delphi developers with their Unicode migration challenges.

Copyright © 2009 Cary Jensen. All Rights Reserved

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