Recently, a user of Fountainhead let me know that writing accented letters broke syntax highlighting and autocompletions. This surprised me for two reasons: I’ve managed localization departments in the past so I should have remembered that there are more letters in heaven and earth than 26, and Python 3 (which Sublime Text 3 packages use) defaults to encoding strings in UTF-8.

Solving the syntax highlighting was relatively painless, though I did learn something interesting while testing out that letters are converted between lowercase and uppercase: ß (sharp s) is the only letter in the Latin alphabet that has no traditional uppercase form.

Looking at Sublime Text’s console, and seeing: UnicodeEncodeError: 'ascii' codec can't encode character..., it became apparent that while the text strings are using UTF-8 character mapping, the file they were being written to is being encoded as ASCII. My mistake was thinking that just because a certain character set is used to display a string of text, it doesn’t mean that it will automatically be encoded as such when written to a file. The solution was to make sure that files are always encoded as UTF-8. Luckily Python (and Stack Overflow!) makes this easy:

import codecs
f ='path/to/file.txt','w','utf8')
f.write(my_unicode_string)  # Stored on disk as UTF-8

For a great primer on character sets and the differences between ASCII and UTF-8, read Joel Spolsky’s “The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)”.