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2008年8月11日

Talk about "Ready for Localization?" again

Recently my colleague from UK ask me (and our team) for a favor. They encounter a problem that they thought they have localized everything, but the result is many text still show in English. I guess he is a guy who only have a limited knowledge of codes, but he has tried his best to dig into the deeper level of the materials. The localization project seems did not involve any engineer, I would said the project was under estimated.

There are several reasons which result in the fact that many text are still in English. It's pretty bad. The material seems never being examined if it's I18N ready or G11N ready. Not to mention to have a pseudo localization test.

The main product is a set of flash files. Ideally all the front end presented text are stored in the back-end database. The ActionScripts codes will then pull out the text from database and generate several XML in run-time, and then the flash will refer to those XML to present the text.

I saw one of the common problem which most of the UI designer may also make the same mistake. Normally when a UI designer create a new object like a button or a lable (a text field), s/he will also put a default string with it. For example, when creating a cancel button, you might put the "Cancel" in the button's text field, and then in design mode it will just look like what it will be in the run-time mode. It seems to be fine, but actually it's not. It will be hard to detect which object has not yet been externalized or linked with external text source. Because you will think everything "looks fine" in your testing.

A UI designer may not have enough knowledge in I18N or G11N area. In some cases, it's fine. But they'd better learn more from these areas.

A simple way to improve the process and prevent from the problem is to use code-like text. For example, use "_CANCEL_" to be the default text for the button.

Since the product will be localized into many languages, never thinking about to leave the English text to be the default text. Treat English as another language. Load all the English text from external text source just like what you plan to do for all the other languages.

In this way, it will be easier to localize this product and less problem will be.

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