Exposing custom cultures?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/04/22 11:30 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/04/22/410797.aspx

Last night I got a piece of email from someone who had seen my talk for the .NET Developer's Association back in February and they had just downloaded Beta 2 of Whidbey.

He was very impressed with a lot of the features and even played with my Normalization as Obfuscation sample.

But custom cultures did not seem as exciting to him. How many developers are really going to use this feature? He could see the sysadmin script kiddie types wanting to tweak locales on Windows, but they would not really care about cultures in the .NET Framework. And they would not be writing extensive code like that anyway. All of the language experts for cultures that are not there at all would also prefer it happen in Windows, and none of them are developers. So who is the market for this feature, he wondered?

I had to tell him that I agree with a lot of what he was saying. I do not think that it is a mainstream feature for developers. It is pretty fringe.

But there is one really important customer of this feature -- Longhorn. As Cathy and I said months ago at IMUG and a year ago at GDDC (without really giving much in the way of specific since there were none then!), the custom cultures you create in Beta 2 and RTM of Whidbey will be custom locales in Longhorn.

This will not help the bar that exists for people who would want to use the feature but would not feel comfortable writing code that makes use of the CultureAndRegionInfoBuilder class. But obviously there a huge space here where developers anywhere can write tools that will allow the files to be created, KB articles can be written with ready made code to create them for the various "sysadmin tweaking" scenarios, and the chasms between developer and language expert, between developer and sysadmin are easily bridged.

Well, maybe not easily. There is a lot of information in a culture/locale. Trying to present it all in an intuitive and non-daunting way is a serious challenge for a developer. I have given it some though from time to time, though not too much since I am a really good UI developer. The only time I have done well is with extensive interviews with the customers who will be using the UI to collect the requirements in a highly itertative set of discussions, and I am not sure how a developer would be able to find a group of people like that who would be representative of the broad cross-section of people who would be interested in the end result of customized locales.

Does anyone out there see a design paradigm that would work well to capture hundreds of data items that people do not intuitively bunch together in most circumstances? I have to admit that an intuitive answer to the question eludes me; I think I would try to aim for somthing understandble rather than intuitive. And then provide a lot of documentation to allow people to grasp the "understandable" concepts....

How would you try to capture things?

# Jeff Parker on 22 Apr 2005 10:28 AM:

Well one use I see for this I might try to use or at least I have sat back and wondered how this would work and if this could be use in this way. I have not done any proofs of concept. But I do programming in the auto industry. A great many things actually 99% of things still use flat text files for passing information around. So a lot of my code transforms these files into xml so I can work with it easier once it comes in.

So anyway we work with Ford, GM, Volvo, Honda, BMW, etc. While all of them send us the same information it is all formatted in a different way. Dates, Times, Money amongst many things are all formatted different between the companies. So anyway I have envisioned using maybe a customs culture for Ford and another for GM and so on. Now I do not know if this will work or not I haven't tried it yet. Honestly there are some more exciting things in beta 2 I have been playing with. So it is low on my list of priorities, right now I am in my coding for fun phase with beta 2 and very high level stuff not to worried about cultures just playing with general features new controls, but I have thought about it and wondered if it would work.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 22 Apr 2005 11:31 AM:

Things like that can work, though I wonder if there are truly that many differences between the companies where they are entirely consistent across the whole company? People seem so much less organized than that!

# Michael S. Kaplan on 22 Apr 2005 3:10 PM:

I swear that I get more offline email then comments these daye on items like this!

I am not fishing for ideas, it just strikes me as an interesting problem, one that the whole world now has to deal with as the CultureAndRegionInfoBuilder makes its way through the collective psyche of the development community....

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referenced by

2006/05/18 Where are the other Tamils?

2006/03/20 Practical Uses for Replacement Cultures/Locales

2006/01/04 Determining (and correcting) locale settings

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