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This entry has been published on 2014-07-28 and may be out of date.

Last Updated on 2014-07-28.


Framework CakePHP sets strings to null which are loaded from database tables and contain special characters like German Umlaute.


In app/Config/database.php, add to your config array: ‘encoding’ => ‘utf8’


public $default = array(
		'datasource' => 'Database/Mysql',
		'persistent' => false,
		'host' => 'localhost',
		'login' => 'asdf',
		'password' => 'meow',
		'database' => 'bsdf',
		'prefix' => '',
		'encoding' => 'utf8',

It seems like this works even if your DB columns have another charset / collation like latin1_swedish_ci.


If you are using Ajax, make sure you clean the browser’s cache after modifying the .php file. Otherwise the changes might not be shown immediately.

Basically, it would be also a good idea to use UTF-8 in your DB and all your .php / .ctp files.

  • In MySQL, you have to change the default collation per DB, per table and also the columns themselves. phpMyAdmin is a good choice for doing this. Usually, no problem should appear if you e.g. change from latin to UTF-8, but to be safe create a backup first.
  • Use collation utf8_unicode_ci, NOT utf8_general_ci! It could end in wrong results.
  • For your files, if you use a PHP IDE like NuSphere PhpED: Right near the bar under the code window where the line numbers etc. are shown, you see the charset of the file. Click on it to change it to UTF-8. Windows Notepad has similar functions in the Open/Save dialogs.
  • Make sure you set the correct charset in the header of your PHP files. In CakePHP, UTF-8 is already set in app/Config.core.php.