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Charset Encoding {#charset}

Charset Encoding {#charset.encoding}

There are a variety of encodings for textual data, ISO-8859-1 (Latin1) and UTF-8 being the most popular. Unless you change Smarty::$_CHARSET, Smarty recognizes UTF-8 as the internal charset if Multibyte String is available, ISO-8859-1 if not.


ISO-8859-1 has been PHP\'s default internal charset since the beginning. Unicode has been evolving since 1991. Since then it has become the one charset to conquer them all, as it is capable of encoding most of the known characters even across different character systems (latin, cyrillic, japanese, ...). UTF-8 is unicode\'s most used encoding, as it allows referencing the thousands of character with the smallest size overhead possible.

Since unicode and UTF-8 are very wide spread nowadays, their use is strongly encouraged.


Smarty\'s internals and core plugins are truly UTF-8 compatible since Smarty 3.1. To achieve unicode compatibility, the Multibyte String PECL is required. Unless your PHP environment offers this package, Smarty will not be able to offer full-scale UTF-8 compatibility.

// use japanese character encoding
if (function_exists('mb_internal_charset')) {

require_once 'libs/Smarty.class.php';
Smarty::$_CHARSET = 'EUC-JP';
$smarty = new Smarty();