What is Unicode?
The Unicode Standard is an encoding system for the representation of characters in software technology. It provides a unique code point, i.e. a number, for each character or character-like sign. Today this standard contains already more than 100.000 signs from thousands of languages which makes it a superset of all existing character sets, for example the ISO 8859-xx standards, Shift-JIS, Big5, GB2312-80, etc...
For details about the history and the content of the Unicode Standard, please visit the website of the Unicode Consortium: www.unicode.org
From Code Pages to Unicode
SAP implemented several SAP Code Page Solutions Before Unicode before Unicode became popular in the computer industry. But all of them had their shortcomings, one of which is the fact that each single non-Unicode code page supports only a certain group of languages (e.g. Western European, Eastern European, Japanese) or an extended group of languages (SAP Blended Code Page Solution). The MDMP - Multiple Display/Multiple Processing approach increased the possible number of supported languages per installation. But MDMP is unknown to the non-SAP world and even unsupported for non-R/3 components and their successors (e.g. BI, CRM, SCM). Therefore, seamless communication in a 'normal' SAP system landscape has always been problematic and in some cases impossible, especially with the advent of Java-based applications and web-based frontend technology (see Why Unicode? for details).
Unicode technology and the tools for converting existing non-Unicode SAP systems to Unicode have been introduced with SAP Web Application Server 6.20. For a short introduction to Unicode in general and the history of Unicode as SAP's code page solution, see What is Unicode. For more information, read SAP Note 1322715 (Unicode FAQs) and SAP Note 79991 (Multi-Language and Unicode support of SAP applications).