'Localizable' is not always 'Internationalized'

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/07/28 10:08 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/07/28/681487.aspx


The other day, developer Ellen sent me mail about the Soft-Keyboard, Spinner and List Scroller sample WPF controls for Media Center, asking if I felt like the move to get developers paying more attention to internationalization in software had turned a corner.

I took a look at the sample, and at the accompanying docs on building the localized versions. It is easy to look at the English screenshot:

and the localized one:

and feel like some important localization work has been done.

But of course the project really misses the point of covering soft keyboard and proper internationalization, since it does not cover the majority of the myriad of issues that many language keyboards use, from additional shift states to dead keys.

Or, lest we forget, there are all of the additional keys that have to be present on some keyboards (even if they are soft) to handle IME-type functionality. Like our "sample" above?

And when you get right down to it, is an MCE remote control really the expected model for rapid text input anywhere?

But ignoring that point for a moment, Ellen has actually noticed something important here, a phenomenon that should perhaps be a clue for all of us.

What encourages people to provide "easy localization" in their samples?

Basically, it is the ability to plug it in simply. If it is just a 'cookie cutter' feature, then it is easy to add. And so people will add it.

Unfortunately, it leads to a bigger problem -- and that is that LOCALIZATION is much more than what the sample provided, which is a limited form of LOCALIZABILITY that is not really able to cover the core internationalization requirements of most markets into which one migfht wish to localize.

The real problem is that there are no "cookie cutter" solutions to that problem. So I suspect we will see more and more samples that give us a slice or two rather than the whole loaf. :-(

 

This post brought to you by (U+1842, a.k.a. MONGOLIAN LETTER CHI)


Xslf on 30 Jul 2006 6:48 PM:

Indeed.

I have stopped counting the number of times where I have found some sort of software, saw that they claim great l10n support, and ask them about Hebrew/RTL/Unicode input, only to get an answer of "it's easy to translate this software to Hebrew! You can do it yourself!" and when I go and download the app, I discover (how did you guess?) that the only direactionality it knows about is LTR, and the only input that does not produce junk is either latin base or CJK but not Hebrew or Arabic.

GRRR!

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