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Can UTF-8 shapefiles be imported into or exported from an ArcSDE geodatabase?
At ArcSDE 8.x and prior versions, Unicode is not supported.
At ArcSDE 9.0 and 9.1, Unicode support is available, with some limitations, when using Oracle or DB2 databases with a UTF-8 character set. However, UTF-8 shapefiles could neither be imported to these geodatabases using the shp2sde command nor exported from the geodatabase to a shapefile using the sde2shp command. This is because ArcSDE's shp2sde and sde2shp commands use ArcINFO's ShapeIO library to read and write all character strings in and out of Esri shapefile format. Currently, ArcINFO's ShapeIO library does not support a shapefile with the character string in UTF-8 encoding.
Beginning with ArcSDE 9.2, Unicode support is available when using Oracle, DB2, or SQL Server databases with a UTF-8 character set. To import such data, connect to the geodatabase in ArcCatalog and use the Import command to import the shapefile to the ArcSDE geodatabase. To export UTF-8 data to a shapefile from an ArcSDE geodatabase, use the Export command in ArcCatalog.