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easy to find incorrect or seriously confusing information about Unicode and characters, even in new books. People find themselves in a maze of twisty little passages of char- acters, fonts, encodings, and related concepts. This book guides you through the Unicode and character world. It explains how to identify and classify characters--whether common, uncommon, or exotic--and to type them, to use their properties, and to process character data in a robust manner. It helps you to live in a world with several character encodings. Audience Readers of this book are expected to be familiar with computers and how computers work, broadly speaking. They are not expected to know computer programming, though many readers will use the contents in system design and programming. This book is intended for people with different backgrounds and needs, including: · An end user of multilingual or specialized text-related applications. For example, anyone who works with texts containing mathematical or special symbols, or uses a multilingual database. These readers should probably explore Chapters 1 through 3 first, practice with that content, and then read Chapters 7 and 8. · An IT professional who needs to understand Unicode and work with it. The need might arise from text data conversion tasks, from creating internationalized soft- ware or web sites, or from system design or programming in an environment that uses Unicode. · An IT teacher who needs a better understanding of character code issues, both to understand the subject area better and to disseminate correct information. There is rather little about character codes in curricula, and this is largely a chicken-and- egg problem: there are no good textbooks, and teachers themselves don't know the topic well enough. The first three chapters of the book could provide the foun- dation for a course, optionally coupled with other chapters relevant to a particular curriculum. · An IT student, hobbyist, or professional who keeps hearing about Unicode and needs to work with technologies that use Unicode, such as XML. Assumptions and Approach Previous knowledge about character codes is not assumed. If you already know about them, you may need to change your mental model a bit. This book starts at the ordinary computer user's level. Thus, it unavoidably contains explanations that look trivial to some readers. However, these discussions might help in explaining things to others when needed. The book also contains practical instruc- tions on actually working with "special" characters, and an IT professional might find x | Preface