Monday, May 21, 2007

Myth #9 - Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9

(Play this blog backwards for the hidden messages.) As for the more overt message, I continue with the myths series:
"We've never localized this product/module/component/blidget, so it doesn't need internationalization."
It's a good thing that nothing ever changes in products, nor in markets. Oh, they do? Yes, even though your product has never been localized before, and this may be a real shock, it might be localized in the future. Whoa! And, another shock, localization is a business decision, not a technical decision. In other words, if a customer says, "We'll buy 2 million licenses for your product if you localize it into Cloqrat," you don't want to have to say, "Gee, sorry, it'll take a massive reworking of the code, say, 12 months to get that to you" since your customer will respond "That's OK, we'll just buy Microbrain's version" and then your problem will be solved because you won't ever see that customer again.

But there's more to it than that. Internationalization is a lot more than making the product localizable. It's primarily about data processing (see Myth #1). That is, even folks in the USA have to process data that is not US data. Was that another shock? I'm sorry; try some rooibos tea.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Oh no! Not Myth #8! Anything but Myth #8! ...Anything? ...OK, Myth #8

And now, we examine our heads, no, navels, no no, myths, we examine our myths (OK, can you tell I'm getting a little punchy here?):
"Administration interfaces don't need internationalization."
'Cause all sys admins everywhere speak, read, and write English fluently, don't they? You know, the funniest thing about this myth is that it's so often repeated, but I have yet to find any data, study, customer interview, or even efforts to obtain such, to support this myth. Maybe it's a mantra. In any case, the hard facts are that many admins are not that comfortable with English, or in some cases they don't know any at all. If you're charged with keeping a company's systems up and running, how keen are you to do that in an interface that is a second language? I thought so. Nothing like a message popping up on the screen with "Floozid iyarkaba panic gotrios piwec shutdown worqas!!" and there you are, madly flipping through your Cloqrat => English dictionary, trying to remember the conjugation of the verb gotrasco. And then more messages come flying across the screen...

The point being that admins are humans, just like you, and language has meaning for them too. They're going to function a lot better in a native language than in a second language, just like you. Many companies translate their admin interfaces - check out what your company does. And this actually leads into another myth, which I'll post at a later date, namely "We've never localized this before."