Monday, 22 June 2015

PHP Variable Names

For years I thought PHP variable names could only be constructed from ASCII characters. Actually, maybe I had not really thought about it but rather just followed common practice without question. The common practice being something like
  • a variable name is prefixed with $
  • the first character must be a letter (a-z, A-Z) or an underscore (_)
  • subsequent characters can be any mix of letters or digits (0-9) or underscore
So, examples of valid PHP variable names include
  • $Andre   $age   $previous_total
But!!!!! We are in the Unicode age and so variable names are NOT restricted to the above common practice. We can be much more creative. We can, for instance, localise our code. Examples of valid variable names include
  • $André   $小山   $エクセレント   $우수한   $🐉
For the following explanation I am assuming your source code file is saved as Unicode UTF-8. If not, it should be.

Letʼs refer to the the definitive PHP documentation concerning variable names which is at The key is the specified regular expression
  • [a-zA-Z_\x7F-\xFF][a-zA-Z0-9_\x7F-\xFF]*
The variable name 小山 UTF-8 encoded is E5 B0 8F E5 B1 B1 which is matched by above regular expression. The variable name 🐉 UTF-8 encoded is F0 9F 90 89 which is also matched by the above regular expression.

Determination of valid variable names is at a low level, the byte level. A UTF-8 encoded character will consist of 1 to 4 bytes. Only characters in the Basic Latin Unicode block (which is the same as ASCII) use 1 byte for encoding. All other characters require 2 to 4 bytes for encoding. The byte values for these All other characters are always ≥ 80. The consequence is that if one uses non Basic Latin Unicode characters there are no restrictions whatsoever! Thus one can, for example, have Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Russian or Egyptian Hieorglyphs variable names. One can have Currency Symbol, Mathematical Operators or Emoji variable names. An opportunity to be creative.

There are perhaps certain practices one should avoid when using Unicode for your variable names. The below are actually 3 different (valid) variable names even though they appear visually identical.
  • $Аndré (uses U+0410 CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER A)
What of the allowed byte value 7F (DELETE)? Why is this allowed in a variable name? I do not have a good answer to this. I also do not have a bad answer. At the moment I am going to leave this pending whilst I conduct further research.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Chinese Name

My chinese adopted name is 小山 which consists of two chinese characters. Sometime ago I was informed that there is a single chinese character that combines 小 and 山. The ideographic description character sequence is ⿱小山

This combined character is encoded in Unicode in SIP (Supplementary Ideographic Plane), CJK Unified Ideographs Extension C at codepoint U+2AA24. The only font I have, so far, found which contains a glyph for this character is hanazono which is available for download from Hanazono is actually provided as two ttf font files:  HanaMinA and HanaMinB. Here is what the combined character, which is in HanaMinB, looks like in TextEdit on OSX.

Is there a sound for this uncommon character? After much searching I discovered which represents the sound as shān (Hanyu Pinyin) and ㄕㄢ (Zhuyin). Same sound for both forms of representation. CNS 11643 is a Taiwanese character set.

Friday, 12 June 2015


There is a regularly updated ICANN csv file which summarises key New gTLD information in 6 fields. It is available at (ref:

field 1: ASCII form (A-label)
field 2: unicode form (U-label) if an IDN otherwise empty
field 3: registry operator
field 4: date registry agreement signed
field 5: application number
field 6: date of delegation (empty if not yet delegated)

Fields 1,2 (if an IDN),3,4 from this csv are incorporated into the public suffix list

For example, the csv entry for .コム is

xn--tckwe,コム,"VeriSign Sarl",2015-01-15,1-1254-37311,

It seems as though Chrome browser uses this public suffix list. One interesting (and IMHO good) consequence is that Chrome will recognise a .コム IDN (eg ) as a domain name to be resolved even though it is not yet delegated. Chrome does not resort to a search. So Chrome is ready to go as soon as .コム is delegated.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Орёл и Решка is a russian language ukrainian TV travel programme. Season 9 episode 14 was all about Nottingham which in russian is Ноттингем. The presenters were Регина Тодоренко and Евгений Синельников. I watched this episode and found it fascinating to see and hear of Nottingham from a different point of view and language.

There is an English wikipedia article about Орёл и Решка

A russian language writeup of the visit to Nottingham/Ноттингем is available on the programme's website

Регина Тодоренко stayed in the Edwards room at Langar Hall Country House Hotel

The London RouteMaster Bus was hired from Blackmore Commercials

Throughout the video there are popups specifying the cost of various items. Interestingly, three different currencies are used - Russian Rubles (РУБ), British Pounds (£), US Dollars ($).

I used a Unicode savvy shortening service to create links to the below video -ноттингем诺丁汉ノッティンガム노팅엄नाटिंघम

Monday, 9 March 2015


There has been much buzz about the invented word duang. It consists of both a Chinese character (well actually two) and a romanized form. The romanized form has even acquired the Chinese 1st tone, duāng

The Chinese character is constructed from Jackie Chan's Chinese name which has both Simplified and Traditional Chinese forms - Simplified ➛ 成龙 and Traditional ➛成龍. The Chinese character for duāng is constructed by placing the first character on top of the second to form a single composite character. Using Ideographic Description Characters, the two new duāng characters can be represented as the sequences:
  • ⿱成龙
  • ⿱成龍
What few realise is that there exists a font which contains glyphs for the duāng Chinese characters - BabelStone Han PUA This font maps glyphs to codepoints in the Unicode PUA (Private Use Area) in the BMP (Basic Multilingual Plane). PUA codepoints can be used for any purpose by anyone, unlike the other codepoints which have to go through an approval process before they can be used. This font maps it's two duāng glyphs to PUA codepoints U+F4E2 and U+F4E3.

I installed BabelStone Han PUA font and here is how the duāng characters look in TextEdit on my iMac.

Update: The two duāng glyphs (using the same PUA codepoints U+F4E2 and U+F4E3 ) are also available in font BabelStone Han

Sunday, 4 January 2015

India ccTLDs

India now has all of it's seven IDN ccTLDs delegated to the Internet's Domain Name Root Zone. These seven ccTLDs encompass an impressive diversity of languages and scripts. All of these seven ccTLDs mean India.

  1. .ভারত language=Bengali script=Bangla punycode=xn--45brj9c
  2. .భారత్ language=Telugu script=Telugu punycode=xn--fpcrj9c3d
  3. .ભારત language=Gujarati script=Gujarati punycode=xn--gecrj9c
  4. .भारत language=Hindi script=Devanagari punycode=xn--h2brj9c
  5. .بھارت language=Urdu script=Arabic punycode=xn--mgbbh1a71e
  6. .ਭਾਰਤ language=Punjabi script=Gurmukhi punycode=xn--s9brj9c
  7. .இந்தியா Language=Tamil Script=Tamil punycode=xn--xkc2dl3a5ee0h

It will take quite some time before there are live Domain Names using these ccTLDs. I will endeavour to provide examples as they go live.

  1. Hindi ➪ मानवअधिकारआपातकालीनहेल्पलाइनएसोसिएशन.भारत/index.php
  • IDN= Internationalized Domain Name
  • ccTLD= country code Top Level Domain

Thursday, 29 May 2014


The New gTLDs initiative has been ongoing for some time now so I thought it time I listed some Website Domain Names. I will only be listing IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names) which are those that consist of non Latin Scripts. My intention is to have at least one list entry for each New IDN gTLD as it goes live so this post will be ongoing for several months.

I will only be listing those IDNs I consider to be reasonably well integrated into the website. My criteria for inclusion excludes Frame redirects and IDNs that redirect to an ASCII Domain Name.
  1. العاب-فلاش.شبكة
  2. 洋服お直し.みんな 海外送金.みんな
  3. 房地产.在线
  4. 四川网.公司 双一牌.公司 镇江东方.公司
  5. 四川网.网络 双一牌.网络 叶淼.网络
  6. тобольск.онлайн
  7. цемент.орг праздник.орг
  8. продвинем.сайт
  9. мы.москва бонсай.москва фейерверки.москва
  10. 特斯拉.世界
  11. 北龙中网.网址 吊顶网.网址
  12. 宝贝媳妇.我爱你 珊.我爱你 珊珊.我爱你 邓珊珊.我爱你 芷江.我爱你
  13. 도메인.삼성
  14. 皮具.商城