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Looking to enable your OpenROAD Application to handle Unicode?

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Posted 2011-06-02 at 06:35 PM by teresa
Updated 2012-11-14 at 12:42 PM by teresa (Added a link to the OpenROAD 6.0 webinar on Youtube)

Are you beginning to plan your move to a Unicode environment? Looking to understand what will be involved in migrating your OpenROAD application to handle Unicode data?

OpenROAD 6.0

OpenROAD 6.0, Windows only, will provide transparent Unicode support; however, depending upon your application there may be some minor code changes involved. What transparent Unicode support means is that you do not need to modify your application data types, although you may need to change your schema data types (DDL). You must use the UTF8 character set. It is usually a good idea to convert the schema (DDL) to use the Unicode types such as NVARCHAR even if you will be using Ingres as the backend, although it’s not necessary. The conversion of the schema (DDL) is mandatory for use with Enterprise Access so if your solution runs against multiple databases, changing the schema (DDL) in all cases makes for consistency.

Preparing for the Migration

The recommendation, as you are testing out your changes with either an Ingres DBMS or Enterprise Access, is that you utilize a separate test installation to not adversely impact your development environment. Be aware that if you change your DBMS server character set to UTF8, all client applications must utilize a UTF8 character set as well. You will need to migrate your application from your current non-UTF8 environment or non-Unicode environment to a UTF8 environment/Unicode database. The XML feature provided in OpenROAD 5.1 will assist in this migration.

If running against an Ingres 9.2 or later database server, you can utilize the UTF8 character set and not change the underlying DDL as the UTF8 character set allows you to store Unicode data in char/varchar/long varchar data types.

If running against Enterprise Access 2.7, the only solution that has been fully tested at this point with OpenROAD 6.0 is MS SQL Server and you will need to modify your DDL to utilize Unicode data types.

Migration Steps

The first step to migrate to OpenROAD 6.0 Unicode/Multibyte support is to change any OpenROAD varchar(1) to varchar(3) and varchar(2 ) to varchar(6). One of the customers who uses the OpenROAD Unicode version does all of their development on OpenROAD 4.1/OpenROAD 2006. They then export the applications from the OpenROAD 4.1/2006 environment and import them into OpenROAD 6.0. To this day they still do their primary development in OpenROAD 2006 SP1. (This technique pre-dated the availability of the XML export capability of OpenROAD 5.1. In OpenROAD 5.1 you can export and import using the XML format as an option. OpenROAD 6.0 has this same capability.)

There should not be any need to change the data types of any of your OpenROAD program variables or widgets. This will be done automatically by the OpenROAD 6.0 runtime.

The biggest change that you will need is if you use string objects. The default structure to store a string object in a pre-OpenROAD 6.0 release is a table that appears as follows:

In OpenROAD 6.0 this structure will be defined as follows:

You will need to provide your own tools to unload any string objects persisted in the 4GL catalogs. OpenROAD 6.0 does not provide any conversion tools for this.

You will use w4gldev backupapp to reload the 4GL source code into the catalogs. That utility will take care of any idiosyncrasies when using the II_CHARSETxx=UTF8. OpenROAD 6.0 is also capable of support Multi-byte character sets such as Simplified Chinese (II_CHARSETxx=CSGBK, cp936).


OpenROAD 6.0 will provide transparent Unicode support, allowing you to enable your applicable to handle Unicode data. We anticipate OpenROAD 6.0 entering QA in Q3 upon completion of the GA status of the remaining OpenROAD 5.1 platforms (HP-UX PA_RISC and Linux). The GA date will depend upon how the QA cycle progresses.

To provide a jump start to the process, we have made a preview of OpenROAD 6.0 available utilizing OpenROAD Workbench Express. This will allow you to test your application in a development environment to see what changes may be required going forward. Workbench Express is only supported via the forums and does not provide the capability to build images.

Now that OpenROAD 6.0 is GA, a webinar was recently presented by the Services team which they made available on Youtube at Actian OpenROAD 6.0 multi-lingual webinar - YouTube.
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