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Unicode strings to ASCII ...nicely -

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Tags: python ascii unicode
Clipped on: 2016-06-29

Unicode strings to ASCII ...nicely

08 August 2006   19 comments   Python


This has been a problem for a long time for me. Whenever someone enters a title in my CMS the id of the document is derived from the title. Spaces are replaced with '- and &' is replaced with and etc. The final thing I wanted to do was to make sure the Id is ASCII encoded when it's saved. My original attempt looked like this:

>>> title = u"Klüft skräms inför på fédéral électoral große"
>>> print title.encode('ascii','ignore')
Klft skrms infr p fdral lectoral groe

But as you can see, a lot of the characters are gone. I'd much rather that a word like "Klüft" is converted to "Kluft" which will be more human readable and still correct. My second attempt was to write a big table of unicode to ascii replacements.

It looked something like this:

u'\xe4': u'a',
u'\xc4': u'A',

Long, awful and not pythonic. Too risky to miss something but the result was good. Now for the final solution which I'm very happy with. It uses a module called unicodedata which is new to me. Here's how it works:

>>> import unicodedata
>>> unicodedata.normalize('NFKD', title).encode('ascii','ignore')
'Kluft skrams infor pa federal electoral groe'

It's not perfect (große should have become grosse) but's only two lines of code.