Version: 3.3.0
wxMBConv Overview

The wxMBConv classes in wxWidgets enable the application to easily convert between Unicode and the variety of 8-bit encoding systems if you still need to use them.

See also
Text Conversion

Background: The Need for Conversion

wxWidgets always uses Unicode internally, for many good reasons already abundantly described everywhere. By default is uses UTF-16 under Microsoft Windows and UTF-32 under all the other systems, but a special build option can be enabled to use UTF-8 for the internal representation.

Unless this option is enabled, the most common conversion operation is converting between this internal representation and UTF-8. This can be done using wxString::utf8_str() and wxString::FromUTF8() functions and, in many cases, they are the only conversion-related functions that you will need and you can stop reading this document now.

But if you need to support conversions to other, legacy, encodings, such as Shift-JIS or KOI8-R, you will need to use the conversion classes directly, in which case please read on.

wxMBConv Classes

The base class for all these conversions is the wxMBConv class (which itself implements standard libc locale conversion). Derived classes include wxMBConvLibc, several different wxMBConvUTFxxx classes, and wxCSConv, which implement different kinds of conversions. You can also derive your own class for your own custom encoding and use it, should you need it. All you need to do is override the ToWChar() and FromWChar() methods. Note that these methods are not used when using these classes, however: even if this would be possible, it is more convenient to use the helper cMB2WC() and cWC2MB() ones wrapping them (they read as "convert multi-byte to wide-character" and vice versa, respectively).

wxMBConv Objects

Several of the wxWidgets-provided wxMBConv classes have predefined instances (wxConvLibc, wxConvFileName, wxConvUTF7, wxConvUTF8, wxConvLocal). You can use these predefined objects directly, or you can instantiate your own objects.

A variable, wxConvCurrent, points to the conversion object that is used if the conversion is not specified. By default, it points to wxConvLibc or wxConvLocal, depending on which works best on the current platform.


The wxCSConv class is special because when it is instantiated, you can tell it which character set it should use, which makes it meaningful to keep many instances of them around, each with a different character set (or you can create a wxCSConv instance on the fly).

The predefined wxCSConv instance, wxConvLocal, is preset to use the default user character set, but you should rarely need to use it directly, it is better to go through wxConvCurrent.

Converting Strings

Once you have chosen which object you want to use to convert your text, here is how you would use them with wxString. These examples all assume that you are using a Unicode build of wxWidgets, although they will still compile in a non-Unicode build (they just won't convert anything).

Example 1: Constructing a wxString from input in current encoding.

wxString str(input_data, *wxConvCurrent);
String class for passing textual data to or receiving it from wxWidgets.
Definition: string.h:372

Example 2: Input in UTF-8 encoding.

wxString str(input_data, wxConvUTF8);

Note that the same task can be accomplished more clearly by using wxString::FromUTF8().

Example 3: Input in KOI8-R. Construction of wxCSConv instance on the fly.

wxString str(input_data, wxCSConv("koi8-r"));
This class converts between any character set supported by the system and Unicode.
Definition: strconv.h:472

Example 4: Printing a wxString to stdout in UTF-8 encoding.


Note that the same can be done more easily by using


Example 5: Printing a wxString to stdout in custom encoding. Using preconstructed wxCSConv instance.

wxCSConv cust(user_encoding);
printf("Data: %s\n", (const char*) str.mb_str(cust));
Since mb_str() returns a temporary wxCharBuffer to hold the result of the conversion, you need to explicitly cast it to const char* if you use it in a vararg context (like with printf).

Converting Buffers

If you have specialized needs, or just don't want to use wxString, you can also use the conversion methods of the conversion objects directly, e.g. you could print a wide character buffer to a non-Unicode stdout:

printf("Data: %s\n", (const char*) wxConvCurrent->cWC2MB(unicode_data));

If you need to do more complex processing on the converted data, you may want to store the temporary buffer in a local variable:

const wxCharBuffer tmp_buf = wxConvCurrent->cWC2MB(unicode_data);
const char *tmp_str = (const char*) tmp_buf;
printf("Data: %s\n", tmp_str);
This is a specialization of wxCharTypeBuffer<T> for char type.
Definition: buffer.h:246