Woes in Python 2.x : UnicodeEncodeError : ‘ascii’ codec can’t encode

Phew ! This is a reminder to myself…

I’ve wrapped my head once already around unicode, but it was so long ago that I had to do it all over again when the error suddenly came up again.

The error I had was the dreaded “UnicodeEncodeError: ‘ascii’ codec can’t encode character u’\xa1′ in position 0: ordinal not in range(128)” error which does not really explain what you are doing wrong but leaves you scratching your head wondering where in heaven’s name you should start looking.

I read the following articles :

But what really solved the problem for me was this StackOverflow answer by Alex Martelli (Bless You Joel Spolsky for this idea and Bless all the people answering there!)

I was in a similar position code-wise : I had a unicode object that I wanted to convert tot utf-8, but I was using the “decode” function.

I actually should have been using the “encode to ” function !

Duh ! Once you have a unicode object, you need to encode it into utf-8 or whatever encoding you need. I was using decode !!!

Oh. Well, perhaps my unicode fu is still not as good as it should be…