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Internationalization, Localization, and Unicode : Unicode ODBC Drivers : Data

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ODBC C data types are used to indicate the type of C buffers that store data in the application. This is in contrast to SQL data types, which are mapped to native database types to store data in a database (data store). ANSI applications bind to the C data type SQL_C_CHAR and expect to receive information bound in the same way. Similarly, most Unicode applications bind to the C data type SQL_C_WCHAR (wide data type) and expect to receive information bound in the same way. Any ODBC 3.5-compliant Unicode driver must be capable of supporting SQL_C_CHAR and SQL_C_WCHAR so that it can return data to both ANSI and Unicode applications.
When the driver communicates with the database, it must use ODBC SQL data types, such as SQL_CHAR and SQL_WCHAR, that map to native database types. In the case of ANSI data and an ANSI database, the driver receives data bound to SQL_C_CHAR and passes it to the database as SQL_CHAR. The same is true of SQL_C_WCHAR and SQL_WCHAR in the case of Unicode data and a Unicode database.
When data from the application and the data stored in the database differ in format, for example, ANSI application data and Unicode database data, conversions must be performed. The driver cannot receive SQL_C_CHAR data and pass it to a Unicode database that expects to receive a SQL_WCHAR data type. The driver or the Driver Manager must be capable of converting SQL_C_CHAR to SQL_WCHAR, and vice versa.
The simplest cases of data communication are when the application, the driver, and the database are all of the same type and encoding, Unicode-to-Unicode-to-Unicode. There is no data conversion involved in these instances.
When a difference exists between data types, a conversion from one type to another must take place at the driver or Driver Manager level, which involves additional overhead. The type of driver determines whether these conversions are performed by the driver or the Driver Manager. Driver Manager and Unicode Encoding on UNIX/Linux describes how the Driver Manager determines the type of Unicode encoding of the application and driver.
The Unicode driver, not the Driver Manager, must convert SQL_C_CHAR (ANSI) data to SQL_WCHAR (Unicode) data, and vice versa, as well as SQL_C_WCHAR (Unicode) data to SQL_CHAR (ANSI) data, and vice versa.
The driver must use client code page information (Active Code Page on Windows and IANAAppCodePage attribute on UNIX/Linux) to determine which ANSI code page to use for the conversions. The Active Code Page or IANAAppCodePage must match the database default character encoding; if it does not, conversion errors are possible. How an individual driver exchanges different types of data with a particular database at the database level is beyond the scope of this discussion.