Recently I had to deal with the problem of displaying and saving Unicode data in a Visual FoxPro form. As we all know, Visual FoxPro does not support Unicode, so this was quite a challenge for me. I would never have solved this problem by myself if Gregory Adam from the UniversalThread would not lend me his generous support and practically solved the problem of saving for me. I want to show the full solution we came to together as this may be a very important topic for the remaining Visual FoxPro developers (and because Koen asked me to write this blog post).
There used to be the classical and very comprehensive article on this topic written by Rick Strahl Using Unicode in Visual FoxPro Web and Desktop Applications. The link to that article now appears to be broken, so I found another shorter article: Unicode to ANSI Translation in VFP 9.0 – Sys(987)
I originally started from the first mentioned article. Our application uses SQL Server to hold data and uses sql pass thru technique to send information from and to SQL Server.
Now, since I am describing the solution I used for the particular application, I will start with the SQL Server table I was using. That table was named Prefs_sl and it was a flat table with 1 record containing all preferences for a sales point. Because of its flat nature it was badly normalized. Say, it had 11 language fields language00 – language10 (nvarchar(100)) to hold name of the language the Sales Point can display and 11 image lngImage00-lngImage10 (varbinary(max)) fields to hold the image of the country flag. So, this was the table I was working with on the SQL Server side.
Now, I wanted to display these 11 languages with their corresponding flags on the form, so the logical choice was to create a class with the textbox for the unicode text and image for the image flag and then instantiate this class on the form.
The first question was what to chose for displaying unicode data? Rick mentioned MS Edit Box control ActiveX, but I didn’t find it in the list of my installed ActiveX. But I found MS Forms2 TextBox ActiveX control and since I also remembered this thread on foxite forum, I decided to try this ActiveX control.
The first problem I encountered with this ActiveX as that it didn’t show up until I clicked on it when I was running the form. Luckily I found the following solution – invoke SetFocus of this control (I called it txtLanguage in my class) and then it was displayed correctly. I am not sure if my solution is the best to handle this ActiveX behavior quirks, but hey, it works.
Ok, so far so good. Now, following Rick’s article I used the following in my form to get the data in the binary format:
LOCAL lcSQL TEXT TO lcSQL noshow SELECT pri_key ,defltlang ,cast(language00 as varbinary(100)) as language00 ,lngimage00 ,cast(language01 as varbinary(100)) as language01 ,lngimage01 ,cast(language02 as varbinary(100)) as language02 ,lngimage02 ,cast(language03 as varbinary(100)) as language03 ,lngimage03 ,cast(language04 as varbinary(100)) as language04 ,lngimage04 ,cast(language05 as varbinary(100)) as language05 ,lngimage05 ,cast(language06 as varbinary(100)) as language06 ,lngimage06 ,cast(language07 as varbinary(100)) as language07 ,lngimage07 ,cast(language08 as varbinary(100)) as language08 ,lngimage08 ,cast(language09 as varbinary(100)) as language09 ,lngimage09 ,cast(language10 as varbinary(100)) as language10 ,lngimage10 FROM dbo.prefs_sl endtext mysqlexec(m.lcSQL, 'Prefs_sl', program())
mysqlexec here is a wrapper for the sqlexec function.
Now I found the first discrepancy with Rick’s article – I found that I don’t need any conversion after that, I can assign the field’s content to the text property of this ActiveX (or ControlSource property) and the control correctly displays the unicode data!
I was happy – the first part of displaying data turned out to be quite easy!
Here is the code I used to display the data:
FOR EACH loObject IN thisform.Objects foxobject IF loObject.Baseclass = 'Container' loObject.LanguageField = SUBSTR(loObject.name,4,LEN(loObject.name)) loObject.ImageField = 'lngImage' + RIGHT(loObject.Name,2) ENDIF next thisform.cntLanguage01.SetFocus()
And in the container itself the following code in the LanguageField assign method:
this.lblLanguage.caption = this.lblLanguage.caption + ' ' + transform(val(right(tLanguageField,2))) this.txtLanguage.Enabled = .t. this.txtLanguage.TabStop = .t. this.lProgrammaticChange = .t. this.txtLanguage.text = evaluate('prefs_sl.' + tLanguageField) this.lProgrammaticChange = .f.
Everything was good so far. However, I haven’t expected how hard (for me) it will be the ‘saving’ data part. I was spending days trying various ideas from Rick’s article and was still unable to achieve the desired result. I was about to throw all I had away and try to switch to ADO for data retrieval, but luckily Gregory Adam helped me here and published a working sample.
First of all, we need to make sure there is no UT8 translation to the current code page. For this we need to do the following
In the txtLanguage Init method.
We also need the following functions:
&& StringConversion && Gregory Adam 2011 *=============================================================================== #define true .T. #define false .F. *_______________________________________________________________________________ function StringToUTF8(utf8Out, stringIn, codepageIn) local success success = true do case case !m.success case !StringToUTF16(@m.utf8Out, m.stringIn, m.codepageIn) assert false success = false case !StringUTF16ToUTF8(@m.utf8Out, m.utf8Out) assert false success = false endcase return m.success endfunc *_______________________________________________________________________________ *_______________________________________________________________________________ *_______________________________________________________________________________ #define CP_ACP 0 #define CP_MACCP 2 #define CP_OEMCP 1 #define CP_SYMBOL 42 #define CP_THREAD_ACP 3 #define CP_UTF7 65000 #define CP_UTF8 65001 #define MB_PRECOMPOSED 0x1 #define MB_COMPOSITE 0x2 #define MB_USEGLYPHCHARS 0x4 #define MB_ERR_INVALID_CHARS 0x8 #define WC_DEFAULTCHAR 0x00000040 #define WC_ERR_INVALID_CHARS 0x00000080 #define WC_NO_BEST_FIT_CHARS 0x00000400 *_______________________________________________________________________________ function StringToUTF16(utf16Out, stringIn, codepageIn) local success success = true do case case !m.success case empty(len(m.stringIn)) utf16Out = '' otherwise local lpWideCharStr, result lpWideCharStr = space(len(m.stringIn)*2) result = MultiByteToWideChar( ; evl(m.codepageIn, cpcurrent()), ; MB_ERR_INVALID_CHARS, ; @m.stringIn, ; len(m.stringIn), ; @m.lpWideCharStr, ; len(m.lpWideCharStr) ; ) do case case !m.success case empty(m.result) assert false success = false otherwise utf16Out = left(m.lpWideCharStr, m.result * 2) endcase endcase return m.success endfunc *_______________________________________________________________________________ function StringUTF16ToUTF8(utf8Out, utf16In) local success success = true do case case !m.success case empty(len(m.utf16In)) utf8Out = '' otherwise local lpMultiByteStr, lpUsedDefaultChar, result lpMultiByteStr = space(len(m.utf16In) * 2) lpUsedDefaultChar = 0 result = WideCharToMultiByte( ; CP_UTF8, ; WC_ERR_INVALID_CHARS, ; @m.utf16In, ; len(m.utf16In)/2, ; @m.lpMultiByteStr, ; len(m.lpMultiByteStr), ; null, ; @m.lpUsedDefaultChar ; ) do case case !m.success case empty(m.result) assert false success = false otherwise utf8Out = left(m.lpMultiByteStr, m.result) endcase endcase return m.success endfunc *_______________________________________________________________________________ function StringUTF8ToUTF16(utf16Out, uft8In) return StringToUTF16(@m.utf16Out, uft8In, CP_UTF8) endfunc *_______________________________________________________________________________ function MultiByteToWideChar lparameters codepage, ; dwFlags, ; lpMultiByteStr, ; cbMultiByte, ; lpWideCharStr, ; cchWideChar local success success = true local result do case case !m.success otherwise try declare integer MultiByteToWideChar in Kernel32.dll ; long codepage, ; long dwFlags, ; string@ lpMultiByteStr, ; integer cbMultiByte, ; string@ lpWideCharStr, ; integer cchWideChar result = MultiByteToWideChar( ; m.codepage, ; m.dwFlags, ; @m.lpMultiByteStr, ; m.cbMultiByte, ; @m.lpWideCharStr, ; m.cchWideChar ; ) catch assert false success = false endtry endcase return iif(m.success, m.result, 0) endfunc *_______________________________________________________________________________ function WideCharToMultiByte lparameters codepage, ; dwFlags, ; lpWideCharStr, ; cchWideChar, ; lpMultiByteStr, ; cbMultiByte, ; lpDefaultChar, ; lpUsedDefaultChar local success success = true local result do case case !m.success otherwise try declare integer WideCharToMultiByte in Kernel32.dll ; long codepage, ; long dwFlags, ; string@ lpWideCharStr, ; integer cchWideChar, ; string@ lpMultiByteStr, ; integer cbMultiByte, ; string lpDefaultChar, ; integer @lpUsedDefaultChar result = WideCharToMultiByte ( ; m.codepage, ; m.dwFlags, ; @m.lpWideCharStr, ; m.cchWideChar, ; @m.lpMultiByteStr, ; m.cbMultiByte, ; m.lpDefaultChar, ; @m.lpUsedDefaultChar; ) catch assert false success = false endtry endcase return iif(m.success, m.result, 0) endfunc
and then in the Change event of the ActiveX textbox I added the following code
IF this.parent.lProgrammaticChange RETURN ENDIF if thisform.IsChanged OR (not this.CurrentValue == this.Text) thisform.IsChanged = .t. local utf8, utf16Out utf8 = this.text if not empty(utf8) = StringUtf8ToUTF16(@m.utf16Out, m.utf8) replace (this.parent.LanguageField) with utf16Out else replace (this.parent.LanguageField) with '' endif endif
and finally in the Save method of the form
IF THISFORM.IsChanged LOCAL lcSQL TEXT TO lcSQL noshow UPDATE dbo.prefs_sl SET defltlang = ?prefs_sl.DefltLang, language00 = cast(?prefs_sl.language00 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage00 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage00, language01 = cast(?prefs_sl.language01 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage01 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage01, language02 = cast(?prefs_sl.language02 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage02 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage02, language03 = cast(?prefs_sl.language03 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage03 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage03, language04 = cast(?prefs_sl.language04 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage04 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage04, language05 = cast(?prefs_sl.language05 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage05 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage05, language06 = cast(?prefs_sl.language06 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage06 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage06, language07 = cast(?prefs_sl.language07 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage07 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage07, language08 = cast(?prefs_sl.language08 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage08 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage08, language09 = cast(?prefs_sl.language09 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage09 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage09, language10 = cast(?prefs_sl.language10 as nvarchar(100)), lngimage10 = ?prefs_sl.lngimage10 where pri_key = ?prefs_sl.pri_key ENDTEXT RETURN mySQLExec(m.lcSQL, '',PROGRAM()) ENDIF
As we can see, we need to convert data back from binary to nvarchar.
With all this code in place, we display the unicode data and save them back to SQL Server.
A big thanks to Gregory for helping me with the code – I don’t know where I would be without his help.
Olaf Doschke showed another way which is even simpler than implemented solution and in accordance to the original Rick’s article.
In the form’s Load we need the following:
Then, after getting binary data from SQL Server the same way as I show in this blog, we still need to use createbinary, e.g.
this.txtLanguage.text = createbinary(prefs_sl.Language00)
We don’t want to use COMPROP now for the ActiveX.
and then, saving data, we need to follow Rick’s steps:
pcSavedText1 = Strconv(This.Text,12) *** Must explicitly force to binary – can also use CAST in 9.0 pcSavedText1 = CREATEBINARY(pcSavedText1)
and then convert this value back to nvarchar(max) when saving with sqlexec.
This is how the form with many languages looked like
I need to also tell, that after I finished the form and was happy to show it to my colleagues, I was up to a big disappointment. It turned out we are not going to support unicode (our main application is not up to support it yet) and so I will be re-doing this form after we will agree on the tables’ structures (they also are going to change). So, what I showed in this blog post we’re not going to use at present in production.
UPDATE. My colleague also re-designed prefs_sl table to one EAV Settings table. We know that EAV design has its own problems, but for saving various application level settings it can be used. I already re-designed the forms we’re going to use.
But in any case, it was a very important exercise and I hope it will help other people who need to display and save Unicode data in their Visual FoxPro applications.