Universally Unique Identifiers: A closer look

A common data type we deal with in software construction is the Universally Unique Identifier, also known as Globally Unique Identifier to those of us in the Microsoft community. However, I often find that a lot of developers have a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to using this type, and how they’re actually generated. The basic concept behind these Ids is well-known, they offer a guaranteed (or highly unlikely depending on the generation method) unique set of 32 hexadecimal characters (or 16 bytes/octets – 128 bits) that are by all appearances completely random (more on this later). Conventionally represented by 5 hyphen separated groups often encompassed with definite brackets, e.g. “{8-4-4-4-12}”.

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