Character sets, encoding, and collation in MySQL

Character: set of symbols and encodings Encoding: set of values assigned to characters Collation: set of rule for comparing a character set

Suppose you have the following characters,

M Y S Q L

that are assigned the following values:

13 25 19 17 12

sequentially. These numbers happen to be their order in the English alphabet. So A = 1, B = 2 and so on.

MYSQL are characters. The number are encodings. The collation is based on the position in English alphabet.

MySQL has the following character sets:

mysql> show character set;
+----------+-----------------------------+---------------------+--------+
| Charset  | Description                 | Default collation   | Maxlen |
+----------+-----------------------------+---------------------+--------+
| big5     | Big5 Traditional Chinese    | big5_chinese_ci     |      2 |
| dec8     | DEC West European           | dec8_swedish_ci     |      1 |
| cp850    | DOS West European           | cp850_general_ci    |      1 |
| hp8      | HP West European            | hp8_english_ci      |      1 |
| koi8r    | KOI8-R Relcom Russian       | koi8r_general_ci    |      1 |
| latin1   | cp1252 West European        | latin1_swedish_ci   |      1 |
| latin2   | ISO 8859-2 Central European | latin2_general_ci   |      1 |
| swe7     | 7bit Swedish                | swe7_swedish_ci     |      1 |
| ascii    | US ASCII                    | ascii_general_ci    |      1 |
| ujis     | EUC-JP Japanese             | ujis_japanese_ci    |      3 |
| sjis     | Shift-JIS Japanese          | sjis_japanese_ci    |      2 |
| hebrew   | ISO 8859-8 Hebrew           | hebrew_general_ci   |      1 |
| tis620   | TIS620 Thai                 | tis620_thai_ci      |      1 |
| euckr    | EUC-KR Korean               | euckr_korean_ci     |      2 |
| koi8u    | KOI8-U Ukrainian            | koi8u_general_ci    |      1 |
| gb2312   | GB2312 Simplified Chinese   | gb2312_chinese_ci   |      2 |
| greek    | ISO 8859-7 Greek            | greek_general_ci    |      1 |
| cp1250   | Windows Central European    | cp1250_general_ci   |      1 |
| gbk      | GBK Simplified Chinese      | gbk_chinese_ci      |      2 |
| latin5   | ISO 8859-9 Turkish          | latin5_turkish_ci   |      1 |
| armscii8 | ARMSCII-8 Armenian          | armscii8_general_ci |      1 |
| utf8     | UTF-8 Unicode               | utf8_general_ci     |      3 |
| ucs2     | UCS-2 Unicode               | ucs2_general_ci     |      2 |
| cp866    | DOS Russian                 | cp866_general_ci    |      1 |
| keybcs2  | DOS Kamenicky Czech-Slovak  | keybcs2_general_ci  |      1 |
| macce    | Mac Central European        | macce_general_ci    |      1 |
| macroman | Mac West European           | macroman_general_ci |      1 |
| cp852    | DOS Central European        | cp852_general_ci    |      1 |
| latin7   | ISO 8859-13 Baltic          | latin7_general_ci   |      1 |
| utf8mb4  | UTF-8 Unicode               | utf8mb4_general_ci  |      4 |
| cp1251   | Windows Cyrillic            | cp1251_general_ci   |      1 |
| utf16    | UTF-16 Unicode              | utf16_general_ci    |      4 |
| cp1256   | Windows Arabic              | cp1256_general_ci   |      1 |
| cp1257   | Windows Baltic              | cp1257_general_ci   |      1 |
| utf32    | UTF-32 Unicode              | utf32_general_ci    |      4 |
| binary   | Binary pseudo charset       | binary              |      1 |
| geostd8  | GEOSTD8 Georgian            | geostd8_general_ci  |      1 |
| cp932    | SJIS for Windows Japanese   | cp932_japanese_ci   |      2 |
| eucjpms  | UJIS for Windows Japanese   | eucjpms_japanese_ci |      3 |
+----------+-----------------------------+---------------------+--------+

and the collation is

mysql> show collation;
+--------------------------+----------+-----+---------+----------+---------+
| Collation                | Charset  | Id  | Default | Compiled | Sortlen |
+--------------------------+----------+-----+---------+----------+---------+
| latin1_general_ci        | latin1   |  48 |         | Yes      |       1 |
| utf8_general_ci          | utf8     |  33 | Yes     | Yes      |       1 |
| utf8_bin                 | utf8     |  83 |         | Yes      |       1 |
| utf8_unicode_ci          | utf8     | 192 |         | Yes      |       8 |
| ucs2_general_ci          | ucs2     |  35 | Yes     | Yes      |       1 |
| ucs2_bin                 | ucs2     |  90 |         | Yes      |       1 |
| ucs2_unicode_ci          | ucs2     | 128 |         | Yes      |       8 |
+--------------------------+----------+-----+---------+----------+---------+

My terminal listed 197. I am only showing a few.

Default settings for character sets and collations are set at server level, database level, table level, and column level. These defaults can be modified at every level. To set a default character set at server level, define the settings at startup using --with-charset and --with-collation options. To modify at database level, see the following example:

CREATE DATABASE mydb CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci;

To view the character set,

mysql> show create database mydb;
+----------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
| Database | Create Database                                               |
+----------+---------------------------------------------------------------+
| mydb     | CREATE DATABASE `mydb` /*!40100 DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8 */ |
+----------+---------------------------------------------------------------+

mysql> show variables like "collation_database";
+--------------------+-----------------+
| Variable_name      | Value           |
+--------------------+-----------------+
| collation_database | utf8_general_ci |
+--------------------+-----------------+

mysql> show variables like "character_set_database";
+------------------------+-------+
| Variable_name          | Value |
+------------------------+-------+
| character_set_database | utf8  |
+------------------------+-------+

To create and view the character set and collation in a table:

mysql> create table mytable ( 
-> id int(10) not null, 
-> name varchar(20) null ) character set utf8 collate utf8_unicode_ci;

mysql> show full columns from mytable;
+-------+-------------+-----------------+------+-----+---------+-------+---------------------------------+---------+
| Field | Type        | Collation       | Null | Key | Default | Extra | Privileges                      | Comment |
+-------+-------------+-----------------+------+-----+---------+-------+---------------------------------+---------+
| id    | int(10)     | NULL            | NO   |     | NULL    |       | select,insert,update,references |         |
| name  | varchar(20) | utf8_unicode_ci | YES  |     | NULL    |       | select,insert,update,references |         |
+-------+-------------+-----------------+------+-----+---------+-------+---------------------------------+---------+