Introducing i18n and l10n

When you develop a piece of software or a website up to a certain point, there comes a time when you try to reach an international audience.

No doubt your first move will be to provide an English version of your software or website.

However, you will soon realize this is not enough. Of course, many people do understand English to some extent; but you have to realize how painful it can be for them. Maybe you don't even realize how easily you can understand English compared to the average. Of course, if you are yourself a native English speaker, you need to try and imagine that every software you use comes in French or German by default! How would you feel about that? :P

Furthermore, you may have spent some time on making your software or website accessible. Users can now change the font size and enhance contrast if they have trouble reading those lines of funky rendered text... That's fine... but what's the use if their problem is not with the formatting but with the language!?

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When the browser wars began...

Eric Sink has this very interesting piece about how he witnessed the beggining of the browser wars, working at Spyglass (the company that licensed the original IE rendering engine to Miscrosoft).

About Spyglass:

"We considered ourselves to be the arms dealer for the browser wars."


IT independant innovation... dead?

Two quotes from PHPeverywhere:

"Perhaps the problem is that the computer industry is maturing, so all the cool corners where you could do your own thing in peace are disappearing slowly..."

-John Lim: "Gamma Radiation from Microsoft turns open source advocates into Sulks"

"[We] are caught between a rock and a cheap place, where your software cannot get enough market share in a world dominated by Microsoft (and other BigCos), and at the same time your niche is being commoditized by free software.

The only way to make money in the IT industry nowadays unless you have colossal market share (which you use to eat up niches such as anti-virus software) or are creative enough to compete in the PC-gaming industry, is by combining your products with services. And make sure your services is the main component, otherwise you risk going out of business when your product is commoditized. The whole industry is moving this way, from minnows like my company to giants like IBM (which is the furthest in this transition, buying up Rational and PWC). Sun is learning it the hard way."

-John Lim: Tim O'Reilly: "The Open Source Paradigm Shift"

And make sure you don't miss Eric Kidd's "The Missing Future". Excellent!

Firebird, bleh [en]

[Version française]

Almost everyday, I read someone saying "why would someone still use [a suposedly abandoned] IE when he could indeed use a [supposedly better] Firebird ?".

Hold on guys... you know brainwashing may not be the best way to evangelize, right? ... and could we at least try to sound a little less naïve?

I'll tell you why: because, as of today, Firebird is just a prototype, far from offering the usage comfort IE does! :(

Firebird may be good at respecting web standards... nevertheless pretty poor at respecting windows standards. And the sad thing is, the average user reacts to that! Even unconsciously!

For example: while Windows menus look "outset" by default, Firebirds menus look "inset"; toolbars cannot be moved (I'd like to have those links in that wide empty space right to the menu); the windows resizing handle is invisible; etc... globally Firebird really doesn't fit into the OS it tries to conquer...

Add all those annoying details like the ALT texts not being displayed (even when no TITLE is specified) or the insertion point not being blinking whenever there happens to be an animated GIF on the page... and you'll probably understand why Firebird just doesn't feel natural to plain Windows users. (Not mentionning incompatible javascripts...)

Don't get me wrong, I am *not* saying that IE is the best browser. As a developer, I favor Mozilla... but as an end user, I definitely favor IE! By the way, as an end-user, I really don't need to open 30 pages simultaneously that often... thus, not even needing tabbed browsing that much... ;D

(Once again, don't get me wrong: I think Firebird has a great future and can't wait to see if the next versions get better on these flaws... but it just isn't ready to seduce the Windows world yet!)

Date Arithmetic With MySQL

MySQL offers pretty useful functions when you want to manipulate days:

  • You can add a time interval to a date value with ADDDATE() or DATE_ADD()
  • You can subtract a time interval from a date value witf DATE_SUB()
  • You can find the interval between two dates with  DATEDIFF()

It's often easier to compute this stuff directly in MySQL rather than in PHP.

For all date functions see the MySQL Manual.