Open it all up, get out of the way, and then what happens?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/12/12 10:34 -05:00, original URI:

When I posted Subsets of subsets of subsets of subsets of subsets, I didn't talk about an interesting side effect that we have as a team, being on the bottom this pyramid of "number of locales supported."

The problem, simply stated, is that generally speaking we lead the pack in what is supported, so we also lead to the most likely source of customer disappointment when (like Aldo) they walk into our simple statements like "Vista supports Sinhalese" (it does) or Vista supports Tibetan (it does), yet there is no way to get either one on the UI language list right now.

And there is no way to get SQL Server (or Microsoft Access, or Microsoft Jet) to properly sort either one, even running on Vista.

And there is no way to hit F7 right now and get spell checking to happen on the Sinhalese or Tibetan text at the moment.

Because as hard as we work to fulfill the promise inherent in "Windows version ____ supports the ________ language" may or may not be on the part of the NLS or the typography teams, the work does not imply that everyone else will support the same languages, too.

Now some apps get some of the way there -- like Word's language list that you can use to explicitly tag text with a specific language has ll of the new Vista locales:


But then the Access New database sort order list looks the same as it did in Access 2000, with a list that is not even up to the Windows 2000 list (let alone the Vista one), a problem it shares with SQL Server (minus some of the minor work done in SQL Server 2005):

It is easy to ask why, but even easier to be told that the reason is that SQL Server and Jet and Access don't have that compelling business case to support the next 100 languages. That the ROI (Return On Investment) has not proven itself yet, has not made its case.

MSDN Magazine has an article this month entitled Enable Global Apps With Locale Builder And Windows Vista (by Kieran and Shawn) that talks about an incredibly exciting feature (custom locales) and the tool that helps you build them, plus some great tips on best practices for people who are going to take that next step and go into adding locales to the big list.

But those applications don't support any of it. None of them show up in any of their lists.

Two my commitments for this upcoming year are quite literally open it all up and get out of the way. But as I (and many others on the team) make plans for the future on how to accomplish these two tasks, I am frustrated by the fact that the next logical steps -- support in these big applications -- are not happening. And as John Hudson said in a different post about OpenType support:

...the fact is that 'Microsoft support for OTL typography' for most people means support in Office applications, particularly support in Word. Now here is Office 2007 and yet again the Office team have failed to show any sign of even being interested in quality typography. I'm afraid until Office show join the party, you are going to continue to suffer complaints like Ruben's, and no amount of reasoned discourse about how well Microsoft is supporting OpenType in other areas is going to put an end to them.

You can remove the OTLS support pieces of the comment and insert proofing tools support or language tagging support or collation support and you will cover the feelings of people when they are told their language can now be supported, which they find out is not really quite supported just yet.... 

So the best I can really hope for at this point is that the more we get out of the way, and the more we open it all up, the more people will start complaining about these folks who aren't opening anything or getting out of the way of anything. Because us telling them it is important (and we have!) is not enough (many people there may agree but lack the authority to prioritize the work) -- we need their customers to tell them that it is important if we want anything to happen. Important enough that people there realize what they are missing out on.

And this applies to other applications running on Vista, too. If OpenOffice or Oracle or OtherCompany that may or may not have a name starting with O wants to announce that their super-super next version support these new bold steps forward in the platform, then I'll give them a try. and I'll talk about it right here at SIAO. People who and companies that are going to take that next step with their products will get mentioned right here and I'll be happy to do so.

And not just because it is frustrating to do work that people don't get to use (though that is a part of it!). It is also because this is the next step -- the way to enable the big list of locales to be in control of the people who should control it -- the customers....

This post brought to you by áž± (U+17b1, a.k.a. KHMER INDEPENDENT VOWEL QOO TYPE ONE)

# dmanchester on 12 Dec 2006 9:58 PM:


You may want to ask the Access team to take a closer look at the contents of that "New database sort order" drop-down list. There appears to be an extraneous "o" in the second option ("Chinese Pronounciation")!


# Michael S. Kaplan on 12 Dec 2006 11:02 PM:

Hi Dan,

I believe that is actually a longstanding spelling error in the dropdown. :-)

# Rosyna on 13 Dec 2006 11:13 PM:

Apologies for this, but somehow this post immediately made me think, "anal leakage". Please tell me there is something connecting this post to that idea. If there isn't, I need to go see a psychiatrist.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 14 Dec 2006 3:08 AM:


Thankfully, there is no connection there, and not even an implied Olestra allusion. :-)

Interestingly, your use of the word 'anal' in the comment caused the spam filter to flag it!

# Mihai on 14 Dec 2006 11:53 AM:


After you "get out of the way," get behind (those teams), and push :-)

# Rosyna on 14 Dec 2006 8:00 PM:

Michael, that explains why my comment didn't appear like it normally does. At first, I thought the worst.

But the "leakage" thing popped into my mind before I even had a change to read the post. I just glanced at it in my rss reader. Something about scanning the page for less than a tenth of a second and my mind "reading" random words. Then I read the title...

Anywho, I had to read this post 3 times just hoping for something in it to connect the dots. Nothing has. I'm scared.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 14 Dec 2006 8:16 PM:

Hmmm... what part is confusing, exactly?

# Rosyna on 14 Dec 2006 8:51 PM:

err, nothing about the post is confusing. I had to read it 3 times in order to be sure there was nothing connecting it to "leakage". The post itself was clear, confident, and connected.

referenced by

2008/06/30 Thirdly, aka Forty two, aka Understanding the answer can require a properly defined question

2007/03/13 Track change (a.k.a. A new job that has a few things in common with the old one)

2006/12/26 On holiday? Outlook might try to tell you where....

2006/12/16 Thinking about MUI is making me bipolar

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