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Soapbox - Trigeminal Software, Inc. (English)

The TSI Soapbox
(where Michael Kaplan and others tell it as they see it and hope no one is offended enough to come after them with a gun)

#8: The Earth is round, people!

This trip to the Soapbox is mainly for people who live in the United States of America.

I have been working hard these last few months in trying to get the TSI Form/Report to Data Access Page Wizard into as many languages as possible. All of the feedback I have been getting from people outside the United States has been great; people are either really excited that the wizard is localized, or eager to assist in getting it done for languages not currently listed (always a welcome thing on a free utility!), or pointing out the odd mistake in terminology or usage (easy to do even in English, let alone English translated 30+ ways!), and the like.

And inside the USA? The great "melting pot"? No one has even mentioned it, including people at Microsoft, except to ask why I am bothering. Why am I trying to find people to handle so many languages, and trying to get feedback. Why I am even paying money for localization when I cannot find people who speak a certain language. Why I am trying to expand beyond the "sacred 25 languages" of Access? Or, in the most extreme cases, why am I doing it into any languages? Don't they speak English?

To them, I say


Microsoft and many other companies have found that anytime you give someone a choice between their native language and English (when they are not the same), they will pick their native language between 70% and 100% of the time. And in cases where you do not offer them the choice, they will pick the product that does, if there is one. Even Microsoft Office itself owes over 60% of its sales to countries outside the United States. So, at least 50% of the world does not want an English product, they want one that is localized! And that is not even counting on the fact that the less technical people are, the more likely they are to find an "English only" product to be really unacceptable (a fact which is true).

And that is why I am localizing my product, the only "UI" product I have currently. Because I do not ever want to be some lame, provincial little snot that does not understand why a Dutch developer cannot just learn English. Because that's just not smart these days. And its not thinking globally.

Actually, do you want to know something interesting? That Dutch developer most likely does speak English. And Dutch. And German. And French, too, maybe. Because they do think globally, even if people here don't. And if I can't be smart enough to take the time to learn to speak more languages, the very least I can do is make sure that the products I have something to do with speak their language.

So in year 2000, I am doing articles in at least four magazines on issues related to enabling your Access/VB applications for international markets and localizing your applications for those markets as well. I am speaking at several DevCons on the same topics. I am doing consulting work for other consultants to help them "think global" (in the intl sense). And so far, I am one of the only people doing it! But I don't expect that to last; I think between the work of Office 2000 and its LangPacks, and Windows 2000 and its support for new languages and worldwide binaries, that the scene is going to start to get more crowded as the time goes on.

In the meantime, if you are from the USA, spend a day trying to use a product in another language. Then ask yourself if maybe you should give a bit more thought to the decision on whether to localize your product before trying to break into an international market.

UPDATE 11/27/99 I have decided, after feedback from many people on this very Soapbox topic, to take the plunge and localize my entire website. This is a work in progress, and available languages for any given page will always be at the bottom of the list. I would especially like to thank the many people who are helping me with this project (most of them for no charge) for the purpose of making all of the utilities and knowledge presented here more available!

Michael Kaplan
Trigeminal Software, Inc.

Agree? Disagree? Feel indifferent? Tell me about it! Send e-mail to and if its interesting I'll post it here!

PLEASE do not send mail to flame, these are just my opinions.


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