Occasionally, text files can contain characters that aren’t supported by the codec. These unsupported characters are called non-standard characters.
These non-standard characters are usually found in foreign words or symbols. For example, the European currency standard is euros, not dollars.
Since most people use the UTF-8 encoding method, which supports all of the common international character sets, this doesn’t usually a problem when transferring files. Most programs support the conversion between an unsupported character set and its equivalent supported character set.
However, there are certain applications that don’t support the start byte for this codecs. This is why there is an extra start byte: to make it compatible with these applications.
Causes of Unicode errors in Python
A flaw in the way certain codecs encode and decode bytes can cause many errors in Python. This is known as a Unicode error.
In most cases, this does not matter as a programmer, but for professional developers, this should be noted. Because of this, we bring it up here as a reminder of how to work with programs that use codecs.
Why is this important? Well, for example, if you are writing a program to play videos or pictures, then an invalid start byte can cause issues such as incorrect picture or video quality or wrong encoding for the picture or video.
Solutions to Unicode errors in Python
If your Python script or program is using the unicode property to identify characters, it is important to pay attention to the beginning and ending of a character.
The unicode property identifies characters by their number of bytes that define their identity. For example, U+0067 (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A) has one byte that identifies it as an alphanumeric character.
When creating a character with the unicode property, developers specify its starting and ending bytes in the specification. For example, the byte value of U+0067 (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A) is 0x61, which means that it must be followed by a 0x61 in memory.
Python supports two ways to identify characters with the unicode property: by their actual bytes in memory and by using bin_diagrams .
Understand the error
When a codec can’t handle the start of a Byte at any position, it causes an error. This happens due to a standard called UTF-8.
UTF-8 is a standard for encoding characters in wide variety of formats. These formats include single or double-quotes, backslashes, and digits.
A character in UTF-8 doesn’t have a place to start its representation, so the codec can’t find it when it needs it. This can cause the codec to fail on a file with an invalid start byte.
How to fix this problem? Edit the file using your editor or use another format such as Latin-2 or ISO Latin-1.
Check your typing
If you’re reading this article while you are typing a byte 0xff in position 0: invalid start byte, then you may have made a mistake when creating your video file.
The video codec cannot handle the absence of the character 0xff .
Re-save the file with a different name (without the Unicode character)
If you find a codec error, such as in this case, the next step is to make sure the file can be played by other devices.
To fix this issue, you must re-save the file with a different name (without the Unicode character). This way, your device will recognize it as a new file and apply the correct codec for it.
To do this, go to your device’s menu and select “Set Up”. Then, select “Re-Install Apps” and enter your new app name into the text field.
Use a different editor or IDE
Version 16 of the Unicode Standard includes a new character encoding called ‘UTF-8’. This allows characters to be translated into various formats, including legacy ANSI codes.
Like legacy encodings, your code may not work with UTF-8! Many editors and IDEs do not support it well, making it difficult to debug your app.
To test whether your application can decode data in UTF-8 mode, use a hex editor or a program that reads text directly.
Badly encoded bytes can cause an application to crash or generate an error when encountered by the codec. An invalid start byte can be identified by its sequence of bits being wrong.
Use str.replace() to replace invalid characters with valid ones
The replace() method can be used to correct problems with your text that involve invalid characters.
In this case, the author is replacing the character 0xff with the character 0xCE. The 0xCE is the byte for the Latin letter A and is called a accented mark.
The A is called an accented mark because it is marked with a different character than the one that follows. This marks it as a special character.
When using str, you can use the replace() method to fix this. Doing this will correct an error in your text that uses an A and an E as characters.
Use unicode() to convert strings containing invalid characters to valid ones before saving them
When working with media files such as video or audio, it is important to pay attention to the characters within the file.
Many of the characters within files are not marked with a standard representation, such as UTF-8 or ANSI. This can make it difficult or even impossible to determine if a character is encoded correctly in the file format.
For example, the letter ‘o’ is often represented by its Latin-ligature ‘fact’ and the symbol for o (circle) in files. However, since these symbols do not appear as decoration on many files, they are improperly encoded.
To prevent this from happening to you, be sure to save your text with at least a unicode(”)()()()()(),(())().