What Does NSString’s Length Method Really Return?


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You would think that it returns the number of characters in the NSString, but it doesn’t. Instead, it returns the number of

unichars

(1 or 2 byte characters). So as far as

-[NSString length]

is concerned every 4 byte unicode character (the double flat, for instance) counts as 2 characters even though it’ll only be displayed as one character on screen.

This isn’t a bug per-say in

-[NSString length]

, but it’s not the behavior I was expecting. To count the number of characters in NSString use the following function adapted from AGRegex:

int utf8charcount(NSString *string) {
    char *str = [string UTF8String];
    int chars, pos, len = [str length];
    unsigned char c;
   
    for (pos = chars = 0; pos < len; pos++) {
        c = str[pos];
        if (c <= 0x7f || (0xc0 <= c && c <= 0xfd))
            chars++;
    }
   
    return chars;
}

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