Character Encoding / Character Set

For a lot of people the entire character encoding topic is quite confusing. However it is an important one because if the character encoding is not set properly your website, RSSbox or feed will show "strange" characters.

What's it all about?

Every website and feed has to contain information about its character encoding. Just think of the Chinese or Arabic written language which both have a very unique character set. The browser of the user (whereever in the world it is located) needs to know which characters it show display. The first character in the ISO-8859-1 character set for example might be an "A" while the first character in the Arabic character set might be this one here "пе" (it's probably not as I don't speak Arabic :-)).

Just like a browser our RSSinclude software needs to know the exact character set of your website and the feed used in order to display the correct characters.

UTF-8 by default

Generally, our service works with UTF-8 which is a common standard in global (multi-language) web development. So if a feed has no character set defined it "assumes" that it is encoded in UTF-8. And by default, it delivers RSSboxes encoded in UTF-8.

Character Encoding of Feeds

The feed you want to use in your RSSbox widget should have defined a character set. This charset definition is done in the feed source code and looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>

The code above tells our service (and every other feed reader) that the feed you want to display on your website is encoded in the ISO-8859-1 character set.

Be aware: If there is no character set defined our service uses UTF-8 by default to fetch and store the feed in our database! So if you use a different character set than UTF-8 you might get problems with strange (unknown) characters.

If you have no chance to change the feed source code there is a workaround. You can manually set the feed character encoding in your box administration. Select the "Input Feeds" tab and click the "Edit" link next to the feed. A small window should pop up showing a drop down containing all possible character sets. Have a look at the screenshot on the right...

Character Encoding of Your Website

Your website should contain some character set information as well. For (X)HTML coded websites you can use a code snippet like this (paste it inside the HEAD tag):

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

There are even more ways to define the character set of a website, just have a look at this wikipedia page about character encodings in HTML.

Be aware: It is important for you to know which character set your website uses because your RSSbox widget has to use the same character set. By default, our service encodes the HTML of your RSSboxes in UTF-8 .

Character Encoding of Your RSSbox Widget

Your RSSbox has to be encoded in the same character set as your website. By default, the RSSboxes are delivered in UTF-8. If you use a different character set on your website you have to change a setting in your box administration.

Your find this setting in the tab "Content and Styling Options", its called "Charset". Have a look at the screenshot next to this text.