When should UTF-16 encoding be preferred over UTF-8?

First things first, we need to know what is common between UTF-8 and UTF-16. Both of the Universal Coded Character Set can encode every code-point of Unicode. Along with that, both of them are variable-length encoding schemes. Before getting to know when UTF-16 encoding be preferred over UTF-8, we need to discern the major differences between them. 

UTF-16 was once considered an ultimate solution back in the 1990s; at that point of time many modern-day programming languages and operating systems were in initial developmental phases. For that reason, UTF-16 is the baseline of native encoding in Windows and Mac OS systems. It is also relevant in C++, Java, and JavaScript. Whereas UTF-8 is ASCII compatible, and that’s the reason it is great for use with older systems that works on 8-bit string models. 

Common Unicode Encoding Schemes 

If you are a newbie and want to know about the common encoding schemes, there are three commonly available ways. Let grab an idea about their workability. 

The UTF-8 is used when you need to encode each Unicode character in 1 to 4 bytes, while on the other hand, UTF-16 is used for encoding 1 to 2 code units, and it occupies 2 bytes, which means it encodes 2 or 4 bytes in total capacity. Besides that, the UTF-32 encodes each character into 1 code unit of 4 bytes. Over here, you need to bear in mind that every code unit has the same value as the coding point. As per the aforementioned working methodology, we have the following about the number of bytes all the encoding system needs. Therefore, the core requirements as per the system you are working with determines which system is best for use. 

Different Odd Scenarios 

If you are looking to be efficient with the storage and don’t possess enough knowledge about the characters, then UTF-8 would be the one you should go for. If there’s a scenario where you think that your users will go for BMP with 3 bytes encoding, then UTF-16 would be the option to opt for. However, there isn’t any globally recognized system that uses UTF-16 for such a scenario. However, if your development circle is concerned about Windows or Mac OS systems and is looking to use native API calls and doesn’t want to bother about the conversion, then UTF-16 would surely streamline the entire process. If there’s a case where a storage mad memory issue isn’t of your concern and you want to enhance the processing time, then the UTF-32 system should be your choice. Lastly, this is how the open-source text processing libraries functions. 

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