[Marshall, 1997] Cr. Marshall. Business Object Management Architecture. OOPSLA'96 Workshop Business Object Design and Implementation II: Business Objects as Distributed Application Components - the enterprise solution http://jeffsutherland.com/oopsla97/marshall.html [Oracle ODS] - whatis.com - http://searchoracle.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid41_gci786730,00.htm [Wikipedia, ODS ] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operational_data_store Authors' Information Krassimir Markov – Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, BAS, Information Research Department;
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fourth International Conference I.TECH 2006 INTERNATIONALIZATION AND LOCALIZATION AFTER SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT: A PRACTICAL CASE Jesus Cardenosa, Carolina Gallardo, Alvaro Martin Abstract: Internationalization of software as a previous step for localization is usually taken into account during early phases of the life-cycle of software development. However, the need to adapt software applications into different languages and cultural settings can appear once the application is finished and even in the market. In these cases, software localization implies a high cost of time and resources. This paper shows a real case of a existent software application, designed and developed without taking into account future necessities of localization, whose architecture and source code were modified to include the possibility of straightforward adaptation into new languages. The use of standard languages and advanced programming languages has permitted the authors to adapt the software in a simple and straightforward mode.
ACM Classification Keywords: D. Software, D.2.7 Distribution, Maintenance and Enhancement Introduction Any technical device devoid of human interaction operates and yields an expected level of productivity regardless of the cultural environment where it is located. The same can be said for software, as long as it does not call for any human interaction. However, many software applications require human interaction for a correct functioning.
In this case, the level of productivity of the software will depend not only on software’s intrinsic technical characteristics but on external human factors.
When a software application is used in a context with a different cultural environment (like different mother language, different icons, symbols, etc.) from its original one, a process of adaptation into the new work culture is required. This process is known as localization. The adaptation into a new culture not only comprises evident factors like the language of the interface and messages to the user, measure units or data formats (also known as overt factors according to [Mahemoff et al, 1998]); but also other slippery and fuzzy issues that finally distinguish a culture, like mental disposition, perception of the world, rules of social interaction, religion, etc., which are referred to as the covert factors of a culture. More specifically, the process of localization consists on the “adaptation of a product, application or document content to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market (a locale)”, as expressed by the W3C [W3C, 2005].
On the other hand, internationalization refers to the design and development of a product, application or document content that enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in work culture, region, or language. In this sense, it can be said that internationalization precedes and facilitates the task of localization.
Besides, the processes involved in localization of software applications changes significantly depending on whether it is done over a pre-existent application or over a developed application.
The next section sketches the most frequent practices of software internationalization and localization in software design. However, in pre-existent applications, and depending on the system development methodology, the localization process can become very expensive in terms of time and resources. We will show how we internationalized and subsequently localized a pre-existent application in a cheap and quick manner, by means of advanced standard implementations languages like Visual.Net and XML.
Information Systems Software Architectures for Internationalization and Localization As we commented in the previous section, the internationalization and localization (I&L) processes deal with more that mere language issues. However and for the purposes of this paper, we will consider only the language adaptation, which is the most prominent and visible aspect of I&L.
Apparently, an internationalized product does not entail structural changes in order to adopt a new language.
Internationalization consists on abstracting the functionality of a product of any given language, in a way that the support of the information of the new language can be added afterwards, without facing the source code (dependent of a given language) when the product is localized into a new language. Currently, main development platforms offer support and tools to facilitate the internationalization of over factors of applications [Hogan, 2004], [Huang et al, 2001], in a way that currently problematic questions are centered on the optimization of the internationalization processes within the life cycle of the application.
There are three main approaches for internationalizing an application. The first one is the system where messages, menus and other culture-sensitive factors are embedded in the source code of the application. This approach obliges to develop a different version of the system for each of the target cultural environments. Each version requires independent process of testing, maintenance and upgrading, multiplying the costs of localization.
The second approach consists on extracting messages to the user of a given application into an external library.
The application is generated from a common source code that links to the culture-sensitive libraries. Although this architecture resorts on a unique source code, only the languages contained in the external library could be incorporated, and it is required to test and maintained each of the supported languages individually.
The third and last approach consists on an architecture composed of the core of the application comprising all the functionalities but independent of cultural factors, which dynamically access to files of external resources that contain information about the corresponding culture (localization packages). The difference with the previous approach lies in the fact that the culture-independent code dynamically calls to the information of culture, so that only one executable must be tested and maintained. Once the set of supported cultures is tested, the addition of new cultures does not imply modifications. From this general idea, each author develops his/her own way of acting. For example, [Stearns, 2002] describes the process of developing systems sensitive to cultures using JAVA and XML for resources files, whereas the environment GNU/Linux [Tykhomyrov, 2002] and the Free Software Foundation [FSF, 2002] prefer the use of special libraries that facilitates the extraction of the localizable contents of the application and the construction of localization packages.
Regarding the aspects related to the life cycle of the internationalized software, [Mahemoff et al, 1999] presents a methodology for requirements specification to develop culture-sensitive systems. On the other hand, [Huang, 2001] offers a description of the processes to be followed to create culture-sensitive software, emphasizing the fact that the internationalization tasks should be included in the corresponding phases of the life cycle of software.
The work on the area of localization is complemented with research on the problem of localizing software already internationalized. Even when the technical procedure for software internationalization is optimized, the bottleneck lies in the localization processes of a product. The process of internationalized software localization resorts on the concept of repository and reuse of translation resources. That is, apart from the external file that contains the messages to the user and its translations, there is a repository where translations are stored for their subsequent reuse. In some cases, there are also repositories for terminology.
The following standards have been established to facilitate the task of managing the culture-sensitive resources files and their communication with repositories:
- XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format) defines a standard format for resources files that stores the translated strings, in a way that tools for assisted machine translation can be developed Fourth International Conference I.TECH 2006 independent of the application to be localized, as well as transporting the translation information from one phase of the process to the following phase [OASIS, 2003].
- TMX (Translation Memory Exchange), allows for the storage and interchange of translation memories obtained after the use of automatic tools for translation [LISA, 2005].
- TBX (Term Base Exchange), defines a standardized model for terminological databases [LISA, 2003].
There are also some common practices among companies that have become a “de facto” standard [Hogan, 2004] aiming at minimizing the impact of localization on commercial software products, namely:
- Extraction of the fragment of texts used in the user interfaces into resources files.
- Control of the extracted texts, contexts and their translations.
- Outsourcing of the translation tasks to specialized companies.
- Simplification of the contents of the chains and their contents as a previous step to the sending to translation centres.
However, as can be seen, internationalization architectures and localization standards do not offer a solution for already existent applications that require international dissemination. That is, according to these architectures, localization is a bottleneck and it is only possible with an internationalized architecture. But what happens if we want to adapt a software application into many languages The next section presents how an architecture can be changed in an afterwards-mode and how we internationalized and subsequently localized a pre-existent application in a cheap and quick manner, by means of advanced standard implementations languages like Visual.Net and XML.
Internationalizing an Existent Application: the Context The starting point of this work is a software application for multilingual generation that allows for human interaction. It is an interactive application composed of a user interface where the user can manipulate semantic representations of the text to be translated.
The only requirement in the development of this tool was the use of UNICODE files, because of the almost certainty that the tool was going to be used for analysis and generation in a variety of languages. This obviously involved the future necessity of localization of the tool. It seems clear that the internationalization should be foreseen and reflected at the level of requirements specification and that it consists on something more than the mere use of UNICODE files. We will show how, in cases where internationalization has not been taken into account in the development processes, a pre-existent system can be adapted a posteriori for internationalization purposes. That is, our work is framed in the following context:
- There is a need of a future internationalization and localization processes, which is partly reflected on the requisites through the need to work with UNICODE files.
- The system is implemented in a development framework compatible with the use of UNICODE files (VB.NET), which guarantees the strict observation of the previous requisite, but nothing else.
- Apart from UNICODE files, there is not any other feature in the system oriented towards internationalization and subsequent localization.
The result of this situation is an environment able to import and deals with UNICODE files, that works with several languages (it is a translation aid tool) but with the totality of the user interfaces functionalities in just one language (in this case, Spanish).
The internationalization process that we are going to describe has been carried out after the complete development of the tool, proving that at least on of the most important and basic tasks of localization, such as language adaptation, can be done even without having internationalized the system in previous development phases.
Information Systems Description and Preliminary Analysis of the Pre-existing System The application is conceived as an environment for linguistic tasks, in which some external resources and components as language analyzers, language generators and dictionaries are integrated, with a powerful user interface and graphics management. From the architectural point of view, there are three main subsystems in the environment, which are:
- Kernel: it is the component in charge of managing most of the information and data flow of the application, as well as integration with external language analyzers, generators and dictionaries.
- Graphic controller: this component is in charge of managing the graphical display of abstract and semantic structures, as well as the correspondence between semantic structures and graphics.
- Interface: this component manages the communication of the application with the user. It mainly consists on the user interface with a few functionalities, which are delegated to the kernel or the graphic controller.
Figure 1 shows the application architecture and information flow graphically.
Environment Language Generators Interface Dictionaries Dictionaries Graphic Controller Language Kernel Analyzers Figure 1. Architecture of the application The entire interface is in Spanish. It is important to note that there are two types of textual elements in the application interface: “message errors” occurring in unexpected situations (also called emerging messages) and the text of the environment itself.
Each subsystem can generate a given number of emerging messages and windows with their corresponding text elements. In this way, the textual elements are scattered all over the source code.
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