STFU-8 is a hacky text encoding/decoding protocol for data that might be not
quite UTF-8 but is still mostly UTF-8. It is based on the syntax of the
created when you write (or print) binary text in rust, python, C or other
common programming languages.
Its primary purpose is to be able to allow a human to visualize and edit
"data" that is mostly (or fully) visible UTF-8 text. It encodes all non
visible or non UTF-8 compliant bytes as longform text (i.e. ESC becomes the
r"\x1B"). It can also encode/decode ill-formed UTF-16.
Comparision to other formats:
- UTF-8 (i.e.
std::str): UTF-8 is a standardized format for encoding human understandable text in any language on the planet. It is the reason the internet can be understood by almost anyone and should be the primary way that text is encoded. However, not everything that is "UTF-8 like" follows the standard exactly. For instance:
- The linux command line defines ANSI escape codes to provide styles like color, bold, italic, etc. Even though almost everything printed to a terminal is UTF-8 text these "escape codes" might not be, and even if they are UTF-8, they are not visible characters.
- Windows paths are not necessarily UTF-8 compliant as they can have [ill formed text][utf-16-ill-formed-text].
- There might be other cases you can think of or want to create. In general, try not to create more use cases if you don't have to.
- rust's OsStr: OsStr is the "cross platform" type for handling system specific strings, mainly in file paths. Unlike STFU-8 it not (always) coercible into UTF-8 and therefore cannot be serialized into JSON or other formats.
- WTF-8 (rust-wtf8): is great for interoperating with different UTF standards but cannot be used to transmit data over the internet. The spec states: "WTF-8 must not be used to represent text in a file format or for transmission over the Internet."
- base64 (
base64): also encodes binary data as UTF-8. If your data is actually binary (i.e. not text) then use base64. However, if your data was formerly text (or mostly text) then encoding to base64 will make it completely un(human)readable.
- Array[u8]: obviously great if your data is actually binary (i.e. NOT
TEXT) and you don't need to put it into a UTF-8 encoding. However, an array
of bytes (i.e.
[0x72, 0x65, 0x61, 0x64, 0x20, 0x69, 0x74]is not human readable. Even if it were in pure ASCII the only ones who can read it efficiently are low-level programming Gods who have never figured out how to debug-print their ASCII.
- STFU-8 (this crate): is "good" when you want to have only printable/hand-editable text (and your data is mostly UTF-8) but the data might have a couple of binary/non-printable/ill-formed pieces. It is very poor if your data is actually binary, requiring (on average) a mapping of 4/1 for binary data.
In simple terms, encoded STFU-8 is itself always valid unicode which decodes
to binary (the binary is not necessarily UTF-8). It differs from unicode in
\ items are illegal. The following patterns are legal:
\\: decodes to the backward-slash (
\) byte (
\t: decodes to the tab byte (
\n: decodes to the newline byte (
\r: decodes to the linefeed byte (
\xXXwhere XX are exactly two case-insensitive hexidecimal digits: decodes to the
XXis a hexidecimal number (example:
\x05). This never gets resolved into a code point, the value is pushed directly into the decoder stream.
XXXXXXare exacty six case-insensitive hexidecimal digits, decodes to a 24bit number that typically represenents a unicode code point. If the value is a unicode code point it will always be decoded as such. Otherwise
stfu8will attempt to store the value into the decoder (if the value is too large for the decoding type it will be an error).
stfu8 provides 2 different categories of functions for encoding/decoding data
that are not necessarily interoperable (don't decode output created from
encode_u8(&[u8]) -> Stringand
decode_u8(&str) -> Vec<u8>: encodes or decodes an array of
u8values to/from STFU-8, primarily used for interfacing with binary/nonvisible data that is almost UTF-8.
encode_u16(&[u16]) -> Stringand
decode_u16(&str) -> Vec<u16>: encodes or decodes an array of
u16values to/from STFU-8, primarily used for interfacing with legacy UTF-16 formats that may contain [ill formed text][utf-16-ill-formed-text] but also converts unprintable characters.
There are some general rules for encoding and decoding:
\u...cannot be resolved into a valid UTF code point it must fit into the decoder. For instance, trying to decode
"\u00DEED"(which is an UTF-16 Trail surrogage) using
decode_u8will fail, but will succeed with
- No escaped values are ever chained. For example,
[0x0102]-- even if you use
- Values escaped with
\x...are always copied verbatum into the decoder. I.e.
\xFFis a valid UTF-32 code point, but if decoded with
decode_u8it will be
0xFEin the buffer, not two bytes of data as the UTF-8 character
'þ'. Note that with
0xFEis a valid UTF-16 code point, so when re-encoded would be the
'þ'character. Moral of the story: don't mix inputs/outputs of the the
tab, newline, and line-feed characters are "visible", so encoding with them in "pretty form" is optional.
The problem is succinctly stated here:
Q: How do I convert an unpaired UTF-16 surrogate to UTF-8?
A different issue arises if an unpairedsurrogate is encountered when converting ill-formed UTF-16 data. By represented such an unpaired surrogate on its own as a 3-byte sequence, the resulting UTF-8 data stream would become ill-formed. While it faithfully reflects the nature of the input, Unicode conformance requires that encoding form conversion always results in valid data stream. Therefore a convertermust treat this as an error. [AF]
Also, from the WTF-8 spec
As a result, [unpaired] surrogates do occur in practice and need to be preserved. For example:
We say that strings in these systems are encoded in potentially ill-formed UTF-16 or WTF-16.
Basically: you can't (always) convert from UTF-16 to UTF-8 and it's a real bummer. WTF-8, while kindof an answer to this problem, doesn't allow me to serialize UTF-16 into a UTF-8 format, send it to my webapp, edit it (as a human), and send it back. That is what STFU-8 is for.
The source code in this repository is Licensed under either of
- Apache License, Version 2.0, (LICENSE-APACHE or http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0)
- MIT license (LICENSE-MIT or http://opensource.org/licenses/MIT)
at your option.
Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.
The STFU-8 protocol/specification itself (including the name) is licensed under CC0 Community commons and anyone should be able to reimplement or change it for any purpose without need of attribution. However, using the same name for a completely different protocol would probably confuse people so please don't do it.