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This directory contains source code for the SQLite "ICU" extension, an
integration of the "International Components for Unicode" library with
SQLite. Documentation follows.
1. Features
1.1 SQL Scalars upper() and lower()
1.2 Unicode Aware LIKE Operator
1.3 ICU Collation Sequences
1.4 SQL REGEXP Operator
2. Compilation and Usage
3. Bugs, Problems and Security Issues
3.1 The "case_sensitive_like" Pragma
3.3 Collation Sequence Security Issue
1.1 SQL Scalars upper() and lower()
SQLite's built-in implementations of these two functions only
provide case mapping for the 26 letters used in the English
language. The ICU based functions provided by this extension
provide case mapping, where defined, for the full range of
unicode characters.
ICU provides two types of case mapping, "general" case mapping and
"language specific". Refer to ICU documentation for the differences
between the two. Specifically:
To utilise "general" case mapping, the upper() or lower() scalar
functions are invoked with one argument:
upper('ABC') -> 'abc'
lower('abc') -> 'ABC'
To access ICU "language specific" case mapping, upper() or lower()
should be invoked with two arguments. The second argument is the name
of the locale to use. Passing an empty string ("") or SQL NULL value
as the second argument is the same as invoking the 1 argument version
of upper() or lower():
lower('I', 'en_us') -> 'i'
lower('I', 'tr_tr') -> 'ı' (small dotless i)
1.2 Unicode Aware LIKE Operator
Similarly to the upper() and lower() functions, the built-in SQLite LIKE
operator understands case equivalence for the 26 letters of the English
language alphabet. The implementation of LIKE included in this
extension uses the ICU function u_foldCase() to provide case
independent comparisons for the full range of unicode characters.
The U_FOLD_CASE_DEFAULT flag is passed to u_foldCase(), meaning the
dotless 'I' character used in the Turkish language is considered
to be in the same equivalence class as the dotted 'I' character
used by many languages (including English).
1.3 ICU Collation Sequences
A special SQL scalar function, icu_load_collation() is provided that
may be used to register ICU collation sequences with SQLite. It
is always called with exactly two arguments, the ICU locale
identifying the collation sequence to ICU, and the name of the
SQLite collation sequence to create. For example, to create an
SQLite collation sequence named "turkish" using Turkish language
sorting rules, the SQL statement:
SELECT icu_load_collation('tr_TR', 'turkish');
Or, for Australian English:
SELECT icu_load_collation('en_AU', 'australian');
The identifiers "turkish" and "australian" may then be used
as collation sequence identifiers in SQL statements:
CREATE TABLE aust_turkish_penpals(
australian_penpal_name TEXT COLLATE australian,
turkish_penpal_name TEXT COLLATE turkish
1.4 SQL REGEXP Operator
This extension provides an implementation of the SQL binary
comparision operator "REGEXP", based on the regular expression functions
provided by the ICU library. The syntax of the operator is as described
in SQLite documentation:
<string> REGEXP <re-pattern>
This extension uses the ICU defaults for regular expression matching
behaviour. Specifically, this means that:
* Matching is case-sensitive,
* Regular expression comments are not allowed within patterns, and
* The '^' and '$' characters match the beginning and end of the
<string> argument, not the beginning and end of lines within
the <string> argument.
Even more specifically, the value passed to the "flags" parameter
of ICU C function uregex_open() is 0.
The easiest way to compile and use the ICU extension is to build
and use it as a dynamically loadable SQLite extension. To do this
using gcc on *nix:
gcc -shared icu.c `icu-config --ldflags` -o
You may need to add "-I" flags so that gcc can find sqlite3ext.h
and sqlite3.h. The resulting shared lib,, may be
loaded into sqlite in the same way as any other dynamically loadable
3.1 The "case_sensitive_like" Pragma
This extension does not work well with the "case_sensitive_like"
pragma. If this pragma is used before the ICU extension is loaded,
then the pragma has no effect. If the pragma is used after the ICU
extension is loaded, then SQLite ignores the ICU implementation and
always uses the built-in LIKE operator.
The ICU extension LIKE operator is always case insensitive.
Passing very long patterns to the built-in SQLite LIKE operator can
cause excessive CPU usage. To curb this problem, SQLite defines the
SQLITE_MAX_LIKE_PATTERN_LENGTH macro as the maximum length of a
pattern in bytes (irrespective of encoding). The default value is
defined in internal header file "limits.h".
The ICU extension LIKE implementation suffers from the same
problem and uses the same solution. However, since the ICU extension
code does not include the SQLite file "limits.h", modifying
the default value therein does not affect the ICU extension.
The default value of SQLITE_MAX_LIKE_PATTERN_LENGTH used by
the ICU extension LIKE operator is 50000, defined in source
file "icu.c".
3.3 Collation Sequence Security Issue
Internally, SQLite assumes that indices stored in database files
are sorted according to the collation sequence indicated by the
SQL schema. Changing the definition of a collation sequence after
an index has been built is therefore equivalent to database
corruption. The SQLite library is not very well tested under
these conditions, and may contain potential buffer overruns
or other programming errors that could be exploited by a malicious
If the ICU extension is used in an environment where potentially
malicious users may execute arbitrary SQL (i.e. gears), they
should be prevented from invoking the icu_load_collation() function,
possibly using the authorisation callback.