Tag Archives: encoding


Joomla Tweaks – resolving (maybe) character encoding issues

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During the course of helping Yuko with her site, I came across similar issues related to character encoding as I wrote about in my previous post.  However, since I’ve been trying to use Joomla for her site (my rationale being that since her site is going to be business-oriented, Joomla would probably be a more robust platform than WordPress), troubleshooting is vastly different.

I’ve also used Joomla for the TUJ Alumni association site and though it is very useful once set up, the process of getting the hang of the interface, distinguishing between articles, categories, pages, etc., can get a little overwhelming for first time users like myself.  Fortunately, the hosting service (Lunarpages) that I use and have recommended to others makes it incredibly easy to setup Joomla – essentially a point and click process.  The difficulty though, comes when you need to make adjustments to the default setting.

As indicated by the subject line, I encountered issues when publishing articles in Japanese where double byte characters would be converted to a series of question marks (?????).  Unfortunately, unlike WordPress, the resolution to his issue wasn’t as simple as just editing a config file.  Instead it took me a good couple of hours at least and advice from the friendly Lunarpages support staff to finally reach what I hope is a resolution.  For the sake of my own future recollection, and in the hopes that others may find it useful, here’s what I did. (please remember to BACK UP your databases before attempting this!)

  • First, you will need to access the admin interface of the database, and this can be done from the Lunarpages cPanel.  From the Control Panel, go to [ MySQL Databases ] and scroll all the way down till you see a link to [ phpMyAdmin ] and click on that.  Once in there, you should see your Joomla! database, usually called something like [ <your_username>_ID ] – click on that.You should now see a long list of tables.  For some reason, it looks like the default Joomla install sets the collation of each table to be [ latin1_swedish_ci ] – I have no idea why.Currently, I don’t know if it’s necessary to edit every single one of them.  For now, at least with the little testing I’ve done, the only one you need to edit is the “jos_content” table.  At the top of the page, you’ll see a tab named [ SQL ] – click on it.
  • That will bring up a screen where you are able to input SQL queries – enter the following:


  • Then click on “Go” on the bottom right of the input field.
  • If all goes well, you should see a confirmation of success, and going back to the table list (by clicking on the “Structure” tab), you should see that the “jos_content” table collation is now set to be [ utf8_general_ci ] instead of [ latin1_swedish_ci ]

That should do the trick! 🙂

Tweaks & Tech

WordPress tweaks – resolving character encoding issues

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Yay – I’m finally able to type in Japanese on WordPress!  I wasn’t able to do so when I was writing about my Kusatsu experiences because of character encoding issues.  Every time I tried writing any Japanese characters, they would display as question marks (??????)

However, after searching around (yay for Google), I found that commenting out 2 lines in the wp-config.php file resolves this issue.

Just for reference, in case anyone stumbles across this post while trying to resolve the same issue, the following lines need to be commented out:

define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);
define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8’);

Commenting out is easily done, by adding two forward slashes in front of those lines, like so:

//define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8’);
//define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);

Just remember: BACKUP your original wp-config file – work on a copy, so that you can always restore the original file if something goes wrong!

As a final note, also make sure that permissions to the file are correctly set – for some reason, uploading the edited file removes some of the original permissions, and I have to manually reset them to match the original settings.

Final note!  I would recommend using a program such as Notepad (or even better, Notepad++) to make any edits.  I originally tried Dreamweaver but that scrambled something and WP wouldn’t even let me access the admin logon page anymore…  (x_x)