Sometimes the things that used to be different aren't anymore

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2011/04/29 07:01 -04:00, original URI:

The other day, colleague Tom asked me:


This question is a lot more complicated than one might first imagine.

We'll start with the definitions:

You may want to read these definitions a few different times each, so you can try to understand the difference.

Did it work? Do you understand the difference?

Me neither.

Without explaining the difference between "local" and "international" in this context, it is not clear that they are any different -- or if so, how they are different.

Let's look for other clues.

If you look at the big list of Locale Information Constants, LOCALE_IINTLCURRDIGITS claims to be a part of Constants Used by GetLocaleInfo and GetLocaleInfoEx Only, while LOCALE_ICURRDIGITS claims to be a part of Constants Used by Both SetLocaleInfo and GetLocaleInfo/GetLocaleInfoEx. That's a genuine difference.

The CURRENCYFMT Structure, the NumberFormatInfo class, and the Microsoft Locale Builder

all have one thing in common: just one setting.

The underlying data store in locale.nls also has only one item in it, though the original source files still have two items. One just gets ignored when the file is being built.

At runtime, the only difference is that one only works for getting while the other works for getting AND setting. They are both using the same value (if you set LOCALE_ICURRDIGITS then LOCALE_IINTLCURRDIGITS is also changed).

So the difference is that there is no actual difference!

This was not always the case though, mind you.

If you go back to Windows XP and Server 2003, they were two separate items that could be different, and there were two theoretical purposes:

In practice, purposes such of these were represented in the data for some locales in Server 2003 and earlier -- Japan, for example did indeed have a LOCALE_ICURRDIGITS of 0 and a LOCALE_IINTLCURRDIGITS of 2. But this kind of difference vanished by the time Vista's locale data shipped. Note that formatting never used it, the documentation was never clear, and despite disappearing from everywhere as a distinct item there is a real lack of complaining about it.

Think of LOCALE_IINTLCURRDIGITS as an evolutionary blind alley in the development of Windows locale data.

And the documentation simply hasn't caught up to describng this vestigial tail (that catchup is slightly perilous for as long as it reasonable to use the docs for Windows XP/Server 2003 and earlier, unless the full scope of the setting is also documented).

Perhaps it just need a kickass KB article.

Or a kickass blog. :-)

John Cowan on 29 Apr 2011 7:36 AM:

"At runtime, the only difference is that one only works for setting while the other works for getting and setting."

I think you mean "At runtime, the only difference is that one only works for getting while the other works for getting and setting."  Things are weird, but not *that* weird.  

Michael S. Kaplan on 29 Apr 2011 8:23 AM:

That's what it SAYS! Well, now at least. :-)

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referenced by

2011/05/04 Regarding the overthinking and underimplementing of names

2011/05/03 Leave it to Microsoft to take the most confusing thing and make it worse!

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