- Reference manual
- Getting started quickly
- The user's initialisation file
- Initialisation files and goals
- Command line options
- UI Themes
- GNU Emacs Interface
- Online Help
- Command line history
- Reuse of top-level bindings
- Overview of the Debugger
- Environment Control (Prolog flags)
- An overview of hook predicates
- Automatic loading of libraries
- Packs: community add-ons
- The SWI-Prolog syntax
- Rational trees (cyclic terms)
- Just-in-time clause indexing
- Wide character support
- System limits
- SWI-Prolog and 64-bit machines
- Binary compatibility
- Reference manual
SWI-Prolog represents characters using Unicode. Unicode defines code points in the range 0 ... 0x10FFFF. These code points represent virtually any character in any language. In addition, the Unicode standard defines character classes (letter, digit, punctuation, etc.), case conversion and much more. Unicode is a super set of ISO 8859-1 (ISO Latin-1), which is a superset of US-ASCII.
SWI-Prolog has two representations for atoms and string objects (see
section 5.2). If the text
fits in ISO Latin-1, it is represented as an array of 8-bit characters.
Otherwise the text is represented as an array of
characters. On virtually all systems except for MS-Windows,
is a 32-bit unsigned integer and thus capable of representing all
Unicode code points. On MS-Windows
wchar_t is a 16-bit unsigned integer and thus only capable
of representing the code points 0 ... 0xFFFF. As of
SWI-Prolog version 8.5.14, the
wchar_t is (on Windows)
interpreted as a UTF-16 string. The UTF-16 encoding uses surrogate
pairs to represent the code points 0x10000 ... 0x10FFFF
as two code units in the 0xD800 ... 0xDFFF. As
Unicode code points, this range is unassigned. For
consistency, SWI-Prolog does not accept integers in the surrogate pair
range as valid code points, e.g.
?- char_code(X, 0xD800). ERROR: Type error: `character_code' expected, found `55296' (an integer)
The internal character representation is completely transparent to the Prolog user. Users of the foreign language interface as described in chapter 12 sometimes need to be aware of these issues though.
Character coding comes into view when characters of strings need to be read from or written to file or when they have to be communicated to other software components using the foreign language interface. In this section we only deal with I/O through streams, which includes file I/O as well as I/O through network sockets.
Although characters are uniquely coded using the Unicode standard internally, streams and files are byte (8-bit) oriented and there are a variety of ways to represent the larger Unicode codes in an 8-bit octet stream. The most popular one, especially in the context of the web, is UTF-8. Bytes 0 ... 127 represent simply the corresponding US-ASCII character, while bytes 128 ... 255 are used for multi-byte encoding of characters placed higher in the Unicode space. Especially on MS-Windows the 16-bit UTF-16 standard, represented by pairs of bytes, is also popular.
The default encoding for files is derived from the Prolog flag
encoding, which is
setlocale(LC_CTYPE, NULL) to one of
iso_latin_1. One of the latter two is used if the encoding
name is recognized, while
text is used as default. Using
text, the translation is left to the wide-character
functions of the C library.40The
Prolog native UTF-8 mode is considerably faster than the generic
mbrtowc() one. The encoding can be specified explicitly in load_files/2
for loading Prolog source with an alternative encoding, open/4
when opening files or using set_stream/2
on any open stream. For Prolog source files we also provide the encoding/1
directive that can be used to switch between encodings that are
compatible with US-ASCII (
and many locales). See also section
3.1.3 for writing Prolog files with non-US-ASCII characters and section
18.104.22.168 for syntax issues. For additional information and Unicode
resources, please visit
SWI-Prolog currently defines and supports the following encodings:
- Default encoding for
binarystreams. This causes the stream to be read and written fully untranslated.
- 7-bit encoding in 8-bit bytes. Equivalent to
iso_latin_1, but generates errors and warnings on encountering values above 127.
- 8-bit encoding supporting many Western languages. This causes the stream
to be read and written fully untranslated. The above is the SWI-Prolog
native name. This encoding may be specified using the official
- C library default locale encoding for text files. Files are read and
written using the C library functions mbrtowc() and wcrtomb(). This may
be the same as one of the other encodings, notably it may be the same as
iso_latin_1for Western languages and
utf8in a UTF-8 context.
- Multi-byte encoding of full Unicode, compatible with
ascii. See above. The above is the SWI-Prolog native name. This encoding may be specified using the official IANA name
- UTF-16 encoding. Reads input in pairs of bytes.
utf16beis Big Endian, putting the most significant byte first and
utf16leis Little Endian, putting the most significant byte second. UTF-16 can represent full Unicode using surrogate pairs. The above are the SWI-Prolog native names. These encodings may be specified using the official IANA names
UTF-16LE. For backward compatibility we also support
Note that not all encodings can represent all characters. This implies that writing text to a stream may cause errors because the stream cannot represent these characters. The behaviour of a stream on these errors can be controlled using set_stream/2. Initially the terminal stream writes the characters using Prolog escape sequences while other streams generate an I/O exception.
2.19.1, you may have got the impression that text files are
complicated. This section deals with a related topic, making life often
easier for the user, but providing another worry to the programmer.
BOM or Byte Order Marker is a technique for identifying
Unicode text files as well as the encoding they use. Such files start
with the Unicode character 0xFEFF, a non-breaking, zero-width space
character. This is a pretty unique sequence that is not likely to be the
start of a non-Unicode file and uniquely distinguishes the various
Unicode file formats. As it is a zero-width blank, it even doesn't
produce any output. This solves all problems, or ... Some formats start
off as US-ASCII and may contain some encoding mark to switch to UTF-8,
such as the
encoding="UTF-8" in an XML header. Such formats
often explicitly forbid the use of a UTF-8 BOM. In other cases there is
additional information revealing the encoding, making the use of a BOM
redundant or even illegal.
The BOM is handled by SWI-Prolog open/4
predicate. By default, text files are probed for the BOM when opened for
reading. If a BOM is found, the encoding is set accordingly and the
bom(true) is available through stream_property/2.
When opening a file for writing, writing a BOM can be requested using