Unicode support in Python 2.7.8 - 16 bit

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Wed Mar 8 02:32:29 EST 2017

On Tue, 07 Mar 2017 14:05:15 -0800, John Nagle wrote:

> How do I test if a Python 2.7.8 build was built for 32-bit Unicode? 

sys.maxunicode will be 1114111 if it is a "wide" (32-bit) build and 65535 
if it is a "narrow" (16-bit) build.

You can double-check with:

unichr(0x10FFFF)  # will raise ValueError in a narrow build

len(u'\U0010FFFF')  # return 1 in a wide build, or 2 in a narrow build

but the maxunicode test is the right way to do it.

> (I'm dealing with shared hosting, and I'm stuck with their provided
> versions.)
> If I give this to Python 2.7.x:
>      sy = u'\U0001f60f'
> len(sy) is 1 on a Ubuntu 14.04LTS machine, but 2 on the Red Hat shared
> hosting machine.  I assume "1" indicates 32-bit Unicode capability, and
> "2" indicates 16-bit.
> It looks like  Python 2.x in 16-bit mode is using a UTF-16 pair
> encoding, like Java. Is that right?  


> Is it documented somewhere?



Here's the PEP that introduced the distinction in the first place:


And here's the PEP that removes the distinction once and for all (at 
least in CPython):


I know the narrow/wide distinction was documented in the build 
instructions for when you compiled Python from source; that's obsolete 
since 3.3. I believe the compiler options were --enable-unicode=ucs4 and 
--enable-unicode=ucs2 (but don't quote me on that).


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