ASCII vs Unicode- What’s the difference?

ASCII and Unicode are the two types of character encoding strings that are highly famous for the workings and techniques provided by them.

Both of them are designed for different uses and depending on the needs, you can choose between them. We are here to guide you and help you make a big choice among both.

ASCII vs Unicode: Comparison table

Now we shall explain to you the difference between their definitions, working, uses, and more by building a comparison table.

AcronymAmerican standard code for information interchange.Unique, universal, and uniform character encoding or universal character set.
Data ExpressionUses alphabets, numerals, and symbols to express data.Uses all the languages around the world and symbols to encode data.
StorageIt uses lower 8-bit bytes with 256 characters (originally seven bytes with 128 characters) to store data with simple characters to lower storage sizes.It has more than 1,40,000 characters with 150 different scripts including modern and historic ones e.g. Greek, Latin, Arabic, etc. along with emoji and mathematical symbols. It uses quite some space. Uses 8-bit, 16-bit, or 32- bit for encoding data.
CharactersIt provides characters, all of which are present in Unicode. So we can just say that ASCII is just a subset of Unicode (UTF-8)Unicode has far more characters than ASCII including all the encoded ones in ASCII with 1-byte
UsesIt is used in representing data in electronic communication and computers.It is used in computing industries for encoding data and handling it in most of the world’s writing systems.
ExampleFor example, the ASCII code for upper case L is 1101100.For example, code name Latin small letter a has a code block of basic Latin and code point U+00061 and glyph a.
ASCII vs Unicode- What’s the difference?

Now let’s discuss both of them in detail?

What is ASCII?

ASCII is an acronym. It stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is one of the most common character-encoding strings for data formatting in computer text data or the internet.

It primarily uses 128 numerical values (ranging from 0 to 9), small case letters (a-z), upper case letters (A-Z), special additional characters such as symbols (!), and control codes. It is used to represent text in digits, alphabets, or symbols in computers. 

What is Unicode?

Unicode is an acronym for Unique, Universal, and Uniform character enCoding. It is another type of character encoding format which uses all the languages of the world to represent data.

What is the purpose of unicode?

 It assigns characters and symbols to data provided in every language of the world. Since it is the only type of string that allows data to be recorded in every language, it is highly popular for usage.

ASCII vs Unicode: Popularity Difference

In ASCII vs Unicode, the thing that comes into our mind is what is their demand in the market nowadays? So, given below are the details of their popularity and demand.

ASCII usage and popularity by top websites are decreasing.

ASCII is still being used for legacy data, however, Unicode has, on a wide scale, replaced ASCII in computer systems due to various reasons.

Why? We are going to find out. But as far as its usage is concerned, it was used widely by order-entry computer systems used by traders all around the world and brokers for years.

The following table shows its usage by different websites.

Overall webLess than 0.1%
Top 100,000 websLess than 0.1%
Top 10,000 webs0%

Percentages of websites broken down that were using ASCII. So w/e know that ASCII is used by less than 0.1% of web users whose webs rank in the top 100,000 and whose character-encoding is known to us.

Unicode, however, is in wide use in recent years. It is fast replacing old character encoding techniques with its wide range of features and is in top demand. According to an estimate, it is used by almost 70% of web users by 2013.

Let’s explain with an example. Unicode has helped vendors make emojis in the past years and now its ratings are growing higher and higher.

What are the advantages of ASCII?

The advantages of ASCII are stated below:

  • As it has all the characters of the English language in both capital and small fonts, so, it can store all alphanumeric values and characters.
  • It uses 8-bit for encoding characters, the most widely used standard for data encoding.
  • It is the most important bit as a parity bit.
  • It is less demanding in memory.
  • The extended ASCII disregards the parity bit and uses 256 characters.

What are the disadvantages of ASCII?

The disadvantages of ASCII are as follows:

  • The small number of characters is not sufficient for representing larger values and is not entirely enough for keyboards.
  • As the characters are so few and with the advent of the internet, communication around the globe has increased multifold, ASCII is not considered well enough for communicating purposes.

What are the advantages of Unicode?

The merits of Unicode are given below:

  • It provides support and opportunities for creating a mixed script in different languages in a computing environment.
  • It is a space-efficient data encoding system for storage.
  • It provides a common for data interoperability in an improved cross-platform.
  • It has expanded and highly efficient market access for its users.
  • It is a global source as it includes characters from many languages and provides data in binary form for digital electronic devices.

What are the disadvantages of Unicode?

The demerits Unicode are described in the given points.

  • One of its disadvantages is the amount of memory needed to store UTF-16 and UTF-32.
  • UTF-8 uses a different number of bytes from character encoding so you can not determine the number of bytes of UTF-8.

What is the main disadvantage of unicode over ascii?

The main disadvantage of Unicode over ASCII is that it takes almost twice memory as compared to ASCII to store roman alphabetic characters

ASCII vs. Unicode: Development

ASCII started being developed under the auspices of ASA called the X3 committee.

Bemer is also known as the father of ASCII for developing the character encoding technique based on 128 characters later on.
Unicode was started being developed in 1987 based on experiences of XCCS in 1980.

 Unicode’s most prevalent encoding is UTF-8 that was first developed by Ken Thompson in 1992. In UTF-8 characters are encoded from 1-6 bytes based on characters.

Which is better, AScii or Unicode?

Now the question arises: which one is better among ASCII and Unicode? ASCII is useful enough if your work can be done by a small number of characters provided by this type of data encoding technique as it requires very small space as compared to Unicode.

Unicode is very useful and its demand in the market is rising day by day due to its various features and functions and fewer complaints from users. So, the choice remains with you that which would work best according to your needs and requirements.

Why is unicode used instead of ascii??

Unicode is supposed to have more features and specs than ASCII. Also, it offers more character sets and uses 16 bits to represent each of them. Hence Unicode is capable of representing a wide range of character sets than ASCII that’s why it is used more widely than ASCII.

Does Java use AScii or unicode?

You can express all java programs in ASCII but java uses Unicode internally and mainly. You can represent any Ascii string in Unicode.

Final Words

Now the question arises that ASCII vs. Unicode: which one is better? We can thereby conclude from the information given above that both of them are quite useful, but the choice remains in your hand according to your needs and requirements. 

ASCII is useful enough if your work can be done by a small number of characters provided by this type of data encoding technique as it requires tiny space compared to Unicode.

Unicode is very useful, and its demand in the market is rising day by day due to its various features and functions and fewer complaints from users. In the end, the choice remains with you and you alone.

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