I just wrote about how to handle special characters in Flex 4 when written as HTML entities in MXML. Now I’ve moved my data with the special characters out of MXML and down into a MySQL database. Data access is provided by a vanilla LCDS 3 backend. I now have a very different problem than what I had before: How do I get UTF-8 data out of the database with LCDS and onto the display?

MySQL and UTF-8

In theory, LCDS is perfectly happy with special characters and foreign languages (here’s a link to supported characters sets in LiveCycle ES2). So this time around, our problem has nothing to do with Flex 4 or LCDS, instead it’s all about the database. For our example, we’ll skip the pure model driven development route and just start with a simple database with a single players table.

Create the database:

CREATE USER 'baller'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON ballerz.* TO baller@localhost;

It is possible to configure MySQL to default to UTF-8 friendly behavior but the CREATE DATABASE command guarantees that the newly created db will be happy.

Create the players table:

CREATE TABLE players (
  name VARCHAR(255),

Nothing special here, just use VARCHAR for the text fields. In this case, we only have the player’s name.

Insert some sample data:

INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (1, "Carmelo Anthony");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (2, "Chaunçey Billups");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (3, "Nenê");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (4, "Këñÿõn Martin");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (5, "LeBrøn James");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (6, "Mo Williams");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (7, "Shaquille O†Neal");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (8, "Ænderson Varejao");
INSERT INTO players (id,name) VALUES (9, "Zýdrunãs Ílgauskãs");

I put some extra special characters into the INSERT statements just for fun.

Digging Deeper: When connecting to MySQL from the commandline you can use the --default-character-set=utf8 option to force your terminal to show UTF-8 characters correctly.

LCDS and UTF-8

Now that the database is correctly setup to handle UTF-8, the rest of the LCDS setup is straight forward (see my getting started part 1 and part 2 posts). Create a new LCDS webapp via copy-and-paste from the template app, then fire up Flash Builder 4 and get to work. In the Modeler plugin, configure a new RDS connection and just drag-and-drop the players table into the model.

Here’s a screenshot of our LCDS model:


And here’s a screenshot of the running app (remember this is backed by LCDS, so no running demo):


Lastly, the frontend code showing just the highlights:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<s:Application ...
           private function complete():void {
                getPlayers.token = playerService.getAll();
        <s:CallResponder id="getPlayers" />
        <Ballerz:PlayerService id="playerService" />
            labelField="name" />

Again, no magic here, I use a simple getAll() query to retrieve the entire players table then feed it into a List via the CallResponder‘s lastResult property.


So the moral of our story is: if you correctly configure your database to support UTF-8 and you correctly get UTF-8 data into your tables, then everything just works. LCDS will transparently get data out of the db and Flex will transparently get it onto the screen.


© 2021