Django and MySQL + Emoticons

This has been documented elsewhere previously but for my own recollection, here it is again.

If you create a typical UTF-8 database (CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci), you’ll run into the following error if you attempt to save 4-byte characters to MySQL (i.e. emoticons). This is due to MySQL’s 3 byte limit on utf-8 characters.

To remedy this issue, you’ll need to make a couple of configuration changes:

1) Switch your MySQL database to the utf8mb4 character set (you’ll need MySQL 5.5 or later).

2) Update your Django database settings to use the utf8mb4 encoding:

One thing to watch out for, if you have a CharField with a max_length of 255 characters and it has an index on it (i.e. unique), you’ll need to reduce the max_length to 191 as utf8mb4 takes up 33% more space. More info can be found in this Django ticket.