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2.0.0 • Public • Published


A data structure for fast Unicode character metadata lookup, ported from ICU This version was copied from https://github.com/foliojs/unicode-trie and modernized slightly.


When implementing many Unicode algorithms such as text segmentation, normalization, bidi processing, etc., fast access to character metadata is crucial to good performance. There over a million code points in the Unicode standard, many of which produce the same result when looked up, so an array or hash table is not appropriate - those data structures are fast but would require a lot of memory. The data is generally grouped in ranges, so you could do a binary search, but that is not fast enough for some applications.

The International Components for Unicode (ICU) project came up with a data structure based on a Trie that provides fast access to Unicode metadata. The range data is precompiled to a serialized and flattened trie, which is then used at runtime to lookup the necessary data. According to my own tests, this is generally at least 50% faster than binary search, with not too much additional memory required.


npm install @cto.af/unicode-trie

Building a Trie

Unicode Tries are generally precompiled from data in the Unicode database for faster runtime performance. To build a Unicode Trie, use the UnicodeTrieBuilder class.

import {UnicodeTrieBuilder} from '@cto.af/unicode-trie/builder.js';
import fs from 'node:fs';

// create a trie
let t = new UnicodeTrieBuilder();

// optional parameters for default value, and error value
// if not provided, both are set to 0
t = new UnicodeTrieBuilder(10, 999);

// set individual values and ranges
t.set(0x4567, 99);
t.setRange(0x40, 0xe7, 0x1234);

// you can lookup a value if you like
t.get(0x4567); // => 99

// get a compiled trie (returns a UnicodeTrie object)
const trie = t.freeze();

// write compressed trie to a binary file
fs.writeFileSync('data.trie', t.toBuffer());

You can also pass in string values to set and setRange:

t.set(0x4567, 'FOO')
t.setRange(0x40, 0xe7, 'BAR')

The intent is that you might use a small number of strings, such as the names of Unicode property values. These strings are converted to small integers, and the mapping is stored into the compressed trie.

Using a precompiled Trie

Once you've built a precompiled trie, you can load it into the UnicodeTrie class, which is a readonly representation of the trie. From there, you can lookup values.

import {UnicodeTrie} from '@cto.af/unicode-trie';
import fs from 'node:fs'

// load serialized trie from binary file
const data = fs.readFileSync('data.trie');
const trie = new UnicodeTrie(data);

// lookup a value
trie.get(0x4567); // => 99 or 'FOO' (if a string was stored)

Example usage

There is an example in the examples directory showing how to parse a sample UCD data file, create a trie, and use it at runtime. To run it:

cd examples
# Create trie in lineBreak.js
# Get the Line_Break property of codePoint U+000A, which is "LF"
./getLineBreak.js 000a



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