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8-bit Unicode Transformation Format (UTF-8) is a relatively new code convention for encoding various characters. It is a standard for character identity and a reference for a wide variety of programming languages and devices, including computers and mobile devices. The UTF-8 protocol helps to standardize the display of letters, numbers and other characters.
UTF-8 is also known as RFC 2279.
In many cases, UTF-8 replaces an older convention called American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). ASCII handled all of the characters necessary for English language text, but UTF-8 handles more diverse sets of symbols for other languages that do not use the English language, or Roman alphabet. UTF-8 is considered backward-compatible with ASCII.
Some programmers question whether ASCII encoding needs to be updated to UTF-8, but in many cases, the migration is required in order to comply with industry standards. Proponents of UTF-8 point out that this more inclusive system enables a greater diversity of display and character use for a given device or piece of code.