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Unicode Considerations for Databases

Database schema in {project_name} only accounts for Unicode strings in the following special fields:

  • Realms: display name, HTML display name

  • Federation Providers: display name

  • Users: username, given name, last name, attribute names and values

  • Groups: name, attribute names and values

  • Roles: name

  • Descriptions of objects

Otherwise, characters are limited to those contained in database encoding which is often 8-bit. However, for some database systems, it is possible to enable UTF-8 encoding of Unicode characters and use full Unicode character set in all text fields. Often, this is counterbalanced by shorter maximum length of the strings than in case of 8-bit encodings.

Some of the databases require special settings to database and/or JDBC driver to be able to handle Unicode characters. Please find the settings for your database below. Note that if a database is listed here, it can still work properly provided it handles UTF-8 encoding properly both on the level of database and JDBC driver.

Technically, the key criterion for Unicode support for all fields is whether the database allows setting of Unicode character set for VARCHAR and CHAR fields. If yes, there is a high chance that Unicode will be plausible, usually at the expense of field length. If it only supports Unicode in NVARCHAR and NCHAR fields, Unicode support for all text fields is unlikely as Keycloak schema uses VARCHAR and CHAR fields extensively.

Oracle Database

Unicode characters are properly handled provided the database was created with Unicode support in VARCHAR and CHAR fields (e.g. by using AL32UTF8 character set as the database character set). No special settings is needed for JDBC driver.

If the database character set is not Unicode, then to use Unicode characters in the special fields, the JDBC driver needs to be configured with the connection property oracle.jdbc.defaultNChar set to true. It might be wise, though not strictly necessary, to also set the oracle.jdbc.convertNcharLiterals connection property to true. These properties can be set either as system properties or as connection properties. Please note that setting oracle.jdbc.defaultNChar may have negative impact on performance. For details, please refer to Oracle JDBC driver configuration documentation.

Microsoft SQL Server Database

Unicode characters are properly handled only for the special fields. No special settings of JDBC driver or database is necessary.

MySQL Database

Unicode characters are properly handled provided the database was created with Unicode support in VARCHAR and CHAR fields in the CREATE DATABASE command (e.g. by using utf8 character set as the default database character set in MySQL 5.5. Please note that utf8mb4 character set does not work due to different storage requirements to utf8 character set [1]). Note that in this case, length restriction to non-special fields does not apply because columns are created to accommodate given amount of characters, not bytes. If the database default character set does not allow storing Unicode, only the special fields allow storing Unicode values.

At the side of JDBC driver settings, it is necessary to add a connection property characterEncoding=UTF-8 to the JDBC connection settings.

PostgreSQL Database

Unicode is supported when the database character set is UTF8. In that case, Unicode characters can be used in any field, there is no reduction of field length for non-special fields. No special settings of JDBC driver is necessary.

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