How to format? What locale?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/09/15 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/09/15/10062047.aspx


In reponse to Latvian. Genitive. Oops. commented:

Anyway, the long date format should, IMHO, depend most and foremost on the current input language, and not on the "regional settings". When I am writing in English, the month names should naturally be January, February, etc. But when I want to insert a timestamp (it's only F5 away) to my note written in Hebrew, I expect the system to use Hebrew names of the months, if not the Hebrew dates altogether (but that's a different story).

Well, people have problems with the date format in plain English: www.xpheads.com/.../160540-notepad-timestamp-yyyy-mm-dd-hh-mm.html.

Furthermore, the DD-MMMM-YYYY or whatever 'format' which is relevant for one language, makes no sense in another. In English, I would choose September 13, 2010 while in Russian it must be 13 сентября 2010 года (yes, genitive for month name and for the word "year"). Such 'cultural' setting is pretty stable, and could be hardcoded with other keyboard preferences. It may be easy (for somebody who speaks the language) to choose the nominative or genitive form from a drop-down box, without ever worrying about the underlying tokens. And for the happy users of English or Hebrew, where no separate genitive forms exist, the drop-down choice will simply be shorter.

Oh, and this way you could use the same UI to easily choose between יום ג'‏ and יום שלישי, which are both legitimate ways to express Tuesday. Or Tue and Tuesday. Or even between ספטמבר and תשרי.

Now this is an idea that some may find interesting.

Once could write applications that would use this kind of logic, in fact.

But this is not what applications on Windows actually ever do.

Thinking back to What is my locale? Well, which locale do you mean?, the suggestion is taking features currently allocated under the DEFAULT USER LOCALE (aka the Standards and Formats setting), and instead put them under the input locale (input language) settiing.

Doing this in a way that would not confuse every user who has ever used Regional and Language Options or read the various KB articles or help files or this blog would require a major overhaul of all of thw user interface and documentation around both these settings and keyboards.

And that assumes that the battle to convince all of the people who own all of this think it is a good idea.

I for one don't think so, and I'm not the only one who doesn't....


Cheong on 15 Sep 2010 8:43 PM:

While I don't have much preference about this (I'm perfectly fine with English date formats, and prefer short dates anyway), I'd think that the UI doesn't necessarily need to be confusing.

Just put a "Advanced" checkbox and make everything behaves the old way. When the checkbox is checked, display the other tabs for input locale or the others and let the user do all the choice (Think about how Internet Explorer handles proxy settings. For those who don't care can simply drop the line of IP and port. For those who do care can define their choice of proxy for HTTP/FTP/SSL/Socks/etc...).

That said, I don't really think of the setting is made to bind to input locale, lots of application would get this setting because we all used to depend on default user locale... I'd think it could be a nice per-application feature, however...


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