Localization in code
Richard A. O'Keefe
ok at atlas.otago.ac.nz
Mon Oct 1 02:38:37 UTC 2001
Karl Ramberg <karl.ramberg at chello.se> wrote:
I find icons and pictures a interesting way to deal with
this. Numbers are language independent. So is music notation.
Numbers may be language-independent, but digits are not.
In Unicode 3.1.1 there are no fewer than 27 versions of "DIGIT ZERO";
No fewer than 5 of them are "fonted" variants for mathematics (I guess
the Unicode maintainers have decided that "the thing about rules is,
when you break them, break them hard"). But there are 17 genuine
culturally different versions of "DIGIT ZERO", seventeen.
Then of course there are decimal points and commas:
US ',' '.'
IEE ' ' '<middot>'
EUR '.' ','
and quite a few other variations. The underlying structure is
nearly language-independent, but the details of the writing system aren't.
As for music notation, it may be language-independent, but it is not
culture-independent. Byzantine music notation, old Western music notation,
classical Chinese music notation, and modern "Western" music notation are
all quite different. (Do I need to mention that modern music notation
includes many words, which are sometimes translated, and sometimes not?)
Come to think of it, when you see chord names, sometimes you see
"Fmin" and sometimes you see "Fmoll". Language difference.
As for icons, they are just a hieroglyphic code. By now we have enough
icons to make learning Egyptian (which at its peak had about 700 different
signs) look easy, and some of the commonest ones don't look the same under
different operating systems. Heck, they don't even look the same under
different *programs*. I'd be lost without tooltips.
Think about this: I have two keyboards on this desk. On one the "power"
key is left-hollow-triangle. On the other, it's "bicycle padlock" (or a
"C" lying on its back with an "I" between its jaws).
Pictures are interesting, but inherently ambiguous.
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