Planning an International Application

By designing an application for international use, you can reduce the cost and time to market instead of modifying it later for international use. When you prepare to design an international application, make sure you consider the following:

  • Acceptable data for an international application.

  • Writing code for an international application.

  • Design considerations for the user interface.

Preparing an international application usually involves the following steps: creating data, writing code, and designing a user interface. The following sections contain more information about these considerations.

Determining Acceptable Data for International Applications

To determine acceptable data for an international application, consider the following:

  • Locales of the application users.

  • Languages that affect the code page used to prepare data.

The locales of your users determine the cultural content of the data as well as the languages that affect the code page. A code page is a character set that a computer uses to display data properly, often to handle international characters. International characters include characters that have diacritical marks. Diacritical marks are placed over, under, or through letters to indicate sound changes from the unmarked form. For example, the most common diacritical marks are the grave accent (` as in à), acute accent (' as in á), circumflex (^ as in â), tilde (~ as in ã), umlaut (¨ as in ä), and slash (/ as in ø), all used in conjunction with vowels.

Ordinarily, data is automatically marked with the appropriate code page when you work with it. However, if you manually assign a code page to a table, or if you otherwise cause the code page to change, users might not recognize some or all of the data displayed. For more information, see Code Pages in Visual FoxPro.

Some languages, such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, use double-byte character sets (DBCS) to represent their data. If your application might run in these environments, you might need to use special string-handling functions and collation sequences for the application to work properly. For more information, see Application Creation with Double-Byte Character Sets.

Writing Code for International Applications

An application consists of an application component and a user interface component. The application component contains the code that runs for all locales, including code that processes the strings and graphics used in the user interface. The user interface component contains graphics, text strings, and settings related to various locales, such as dates, currencies, numeric values, and separators.

When designing your application, keep the application and user interface components separate because independent components make the application easier to localize and maintain.

For example, you do not have to browse the source code to localize interface elements when they are separate components. For more information, see Modifying International Applications.

Designing the User Interface for International Applications

The menus, forms, controls, toolbars, and bitmaps used in the user interface must be appropriate for the locales for the application you design. For example, if you design the application for users in Germany and France, dialog boxes must be large enough to display instructions that are localized in German and French. In addition, the images used in icons and bitmaps must be culturally appropriate and correct so that users in target locales can understand them. For more information, see Designing for Localization.

Testing International Applications

When testing international applications, remember to check the following:

  • Country and language dependencies for the application.

  • Application data and user interface for conformity to the locale's standards for date and time, numeric values, currency, list separators, and measurements.

See Also

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