I think we're taking the wrong approach, mostly

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/11/06 03:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/11/06/9046130.aspx

In the past, I've done a lot of presentations on globalization and localizability issues.

In different companies where I was brought in to do this, they were very well received, because generally a company is being asked to do the work to support another language and the people being trained found themselves quite hungry for the info.

But when it came to conferences, most of the positive feedback went along the lines of "very interesting presentation" but in the checkbox for whether it was useful for their immediate work, often they'd say no. Because if a company is spending thousands on a conference, they don't usually have such a focused requirement. If the person even signed up for the talk, it was either curiosity and thought they'd see me cause trouble or maybe they'd heard of me or whatever.

There are exceptions to this, like the Internationalization and Unicode Conference. But this only proves my point -- you could probably fit over 30 IUCs in a TechEd or a PDC. So you end up with the very small number of people being sent to a specialized conference, often with a generic requirement of "we need to support GB 18030" or "we have to do Japanese" or whatever.

When it comes to Unicode support, NT shipped well over 10 years ago and quite a few applications out there still don't support it. Slides like

Language Matters! 

are only interesting for shock value -- they aren't going to convince anyone who isn't already convinced, and looking their own presentation to justify it to upper management.

Because how many companies are thinking of shipping their software overseas and not just shipping it as is?

MUI is a cool technology, but it is not of general interest to anyone other than people trying to build in-box drivers in windows who are told they must support it by contract. People are given an assignment to ship the product in Japan; they don't wake up and say "we should support 10 languages in a switchable fashion" for the hell of it and then the sales people cn figure out what to do with it."

The flaw is that by trying to get people interested based on some nebulous notion of "best practices" it is hard to get people interested.

Best practices for globalization? Manuel Garcia O'Kelley Davis would say null program.

But when asked to do presentations on security issues with string comparisons or the consequences of  user settings breaking applications, I often get a lot more interest.

People care a lot more about consequences than they do about nebulous features (since selling software in another country is a lot more complicated than just these issues -- there are legal issues that by themselves would block most people from ever even considering it).

I mean, a lot of the PC game industry and a lot of the driver industry "supports" Unicode. 

I put supports in air quotes because they may not be and in many cases probably aren't doling anything outside of the ASCII range.

But they support Unicode because the OS underneath them does and they want to avoid the extra OS conversions.

I guess what I'm saying as is that we have to stop trying to appeal to "best practices" or the miracle of dynamically supporting UI in 40+ languages.We need to focus on:

People care about those kinds of issues a lot more than they care about good globalization or localizability.

Unless they are are already in those markets or want to be acquired by a company who is that pays attention to whether this work is already done, of course!

Now I have a couple of regular readers here.

But mot of the traffic comes from people searching for information on bugs or issue hitting them now.

All of this is why I think we're mostly taking th wrong approach....


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Simon Buchan on 6 Nov 2008 11:56 PM:

So.... who's the other regular?

Michael S. Kaplan on 7 Nov 2008 2:26 AM:

I might be slightly off in my count. I think they use Diebold technologies for the counting....

Yuhong Bao on 8 Nov 2008 11:20 PM:

"NT shipped well over 10 years ago"

Actually 15 years ago.

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Nov 2008 8:36 AM:

Yes, and 15 is indeed well over 10. :-)

Yuhong Bao on 10 Nov 2008 9:19 PM:

IDA Pro "supports" Unicode but displays Unicode characters correctly only if the character in the Latin script:


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