Finding the current culture settings using the CultureInfo class in .NET C#

Finding the the culture settings – the locale – of a thread is straightforward in .NET:

CultureInfo cultureInfo = Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentCulture;

We extract the current culture from the current thread. The CultureInfo class holds a number of properties to extract information from it. Examples:

string cultureName = cultureInfo.Name;
string cultureDisplayName = cultureInfo.DisplayName;
string nativeName = cultureInfo.NativeName;
string englishName = cultureInfo.EnglishName;
string cultureAbbreviation = cultureInfo.TwoLetterISOLanguageName;

As my computer is set to run with Swedish settings I got the following values from top to bottom:

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Comparing strings using the CompareInfo class in .NET C#

It’s important to be aware of the cultural settings in a globalised application when comparing strings. The CompareInfo class and the CompareOptions enumeration provide a useful way to compare strings based on specific cultures.

One way to get hold of the CompareInfo class belonging to a specific culture is through the CultureInfo class:

CultureInfo swedishCulture = new CultureInfo("sv-SE");
CompareInfo swedishCompareInfo = swedishCulture.CompareInfo;

CultureInfo hungarianCulture = new CultureInfo("hu-HU");
CompareInfo hungarianCompareInfo = hungarianCulture.CompareInfo;

CultureInfo germanCulture = new CultureInfo("de-DE");
CompareInfo germanCompareInfo = germanCulture.CompareInfo;

The CompareInfo object has a Compare method which returns 0 if the strings are equal, -1 if the first string is less than the second and 1 if the opposite is the case. The following comparison of two German strings returns -1 as by default the comparison is case-sensitive:

int comparison = germanCompareInfo.Compare("mädchen", "Mädchen");

This is where the CompareOptions enumeration proves useful. Here are the possible values:

  • IgnoreCase: make the comparison case-insensitive
  • IgnoreNonSpace: ignore diacritics, or officially non-spacing combining characters in Unicode. Example: “Madchen” will be equal to “Mädchen” with this flag
  • IgnoreSymbols: ignore symbols, like white-space, #, $, % etc. “Mädch$en” and “M#ädchen” will be considered equal with this flag
  • IgnoreKana and IgnoreWidth: concern mostly the Japanese language
  • None: the default value if the basic overload of Compare is called
  • Ordinal: quick but culture-insensitive comparison based on the Unicode value of each character
  • OrdinalIgnoreCase: same as Ordinal but the comparison is also case-insensitive
  • StringSort: use a sort algorithm where non-alphanumeric symbols, such as ‘-‘ come before the alphanumeric characters

Read all posts related to Globalisation in .NET here.

Using NumberStyles to parse numbers in C# .NET Part 3

In the previous post we looked at some more values in the NumberStyles enumeration. In this finishing post we’ll look at some more compact enumeration values and how you can pass in your own number format provider for customised and culture-independent solutions.

We’ve seen that you can combine the NumberStyles enumeration values like here:

string rawNumber = "$(14)";
int parsedNumber = int.Parse(rawNumber, NumberStyles.AllowParentheses | NumberStyles.AllowCurrencySymbol);

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Using NumberStyles to parse numbers in C# .NET Part 2

In the previous post we looked at some basic usage of the NumberStyles enumeration. The enumeration allows to parse other representations of numeric values.

Occasionally negative numbers are shown with a trailing negative sign like this: “13-“. There’s a solution for that:

string number = "13-";
int parsed = int.Parse(number, NumberStyles.AllowTrailingSign);

“parsed” will be -13 as expected.

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Using NumberStyles to parse numbers in C# .NET Part 1

There are a lot of number formats out there depending on the industry we’re looking at. E.g. negative numbers can be represented in several different ways:

  • -14
  • (14)
  • 14-
  • 14.00-
  • (14,00)

…and so on. Accounting, finance and other, highly “numeric” fields will have their own standards to represent numbers. Your application may need to parse all these strings and convert them into proper numeric values. The static Parse method of the numeric classes, like int, double, decimal all accept a NumberStyles enumeration. This enumeration is located in the System.Globalization namespace.

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Getting the byte array of a string depending on Encoding in C# .NET

You can take any string in C# and view its byte array data depending on the Encoding type. You can get hold of the encoding type using the Encoding.GetEncoding method. Some frequently used code pages have their short-cuts:

  • Encoding.ASCII
  • Encoding.BigEndianUnicode
  • Encoding.Unicode – this is UTF16
  • Encoding.UTF7
  • Encoding.UTF32
  • Encoding.UTF8

Once you’ve got hold of an encoding you can call its GetBytes method to return the byte array representation of a string. You can use this method whenever another method requires a byte array input instead of a string.

For backward compatibility the positions 0-127 are the same in most encoding types. These cover the standard English alphabet – both lower and upper case -, the numbers, punctuation plus some other characters. So if you only take characters from this range then the byte values in the array will be the same. You can view the ASCII characters here: ASCII character set.

The following function will print the same values for both the ASCII and Chinese encoding types:

string input = "I am feeling great";
byte[] asciiEncoded = Encoding.ASCII.GetBytes(input);
foreach (byte b in asciiEncoded)

Encoding chinese = Encoding.GetEncoding("Chinese");
byte[] chineseEncoded = chinese.GetBytes(input);
foreach (byte b in chineseEncoded)

If you’re trying to ASCII-encode a Unicode string which contains non-ASCII characters then you’ll get see the ASCII byte value of 63, i.e. ‘?’:

string input = "öåä I am feeling great";
byte[] asciiEncoded = Encoding.ASCII.GetBytes(input);
foreach (byte b in asciiEncoded)

The first 3 positions will print 63 as the Swedish ‘öåä’ characters cannot be handled by ASCII. E.g. whenever you visit a website and see question marks and other funny characters instead of proper text then you know that there’s an encoding problem: the page has been encoded with an encoding type that’s not available on the user’s computer when viewed.

View all posts related to Globalization here.

Getting the list of supported Encoding types in .NET

Every text file and string is encoded using one of many encoding standards. Normally .NET will handle encoding automatically but there are times when you need to dig into the internals for encoding and decoding. It’s very simple to retrieve the list of supported encoding types, a.k.a code pages in .NET:

EncodingInfo[] codePages = Encoding.GetEncodings();
foreach (EncodingInfo codePage in codePages)
	Console.WriteLine("Code page ID: {0}, IANA name: {1}, human-friendly display name: {2}", codePage.CodePage, codePage.Name, codePage.DisplayName);

Example output:

Code page ID: 37, IANA name: IBM037, human-friendly display name: IBM EBCDIC (US-Canada)
Code page ID: 852, IANA name: ibm852, human-friendly display name: Central European (DOS)

View all posts related to Globalization here.


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