Target Audience: Manager, Software Engineer, Systems Analyst

Level of Session: Intermediate

The domain of Environmental Health, Safety and Transportation (EHS&T) management is essentially multilingual and is one in which Unicode should shine. For example, regulations around the world mandate that hazardous materials be accompanied by Material Safety Data Sheets, which must be in the local language(s) of all countries that the materials are shipped to or through; hence multilingual data sheets and stickers, in contradiction with the old model of one (or a few) language per character set.

Atrion International's flagship EHS&T product, CHEMMATE(r) Intelligent Authoring, faced this issue and solved it by migrating to Unicode. At the same time, a sizable business opportunity made it necessary to localize the existing product in Japanese, which implied at least double-byte enablement. Faced with a tight schedule and those requirements, Atrion decided to use Alis' Batam Internationalization Library for Windows, which allowed easy Unicode-enablement using the UTF-8 encoding, thereby avoiding a costly and time-consuming rewrite. Batam also provided OS language-version independence and allowed use of ordinary codepage-based fonts -- as opposed to so-called Unicode fonts. The result was that in the time it would have taken to do just a Japanese localization, CHEMMATE was turned into a fully internationalized, Unicode-based and easily localizable application, benefiting from a single set of sources producing a single binary able to do its job in any language on any Win32 platform.

This paper will tell the story of CHEMMATE's migration to Unicode, address the issues encountered along the way, and do away with the myths of necessary OS and font support in the making of Unicode applications.

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14 Jun 1999, Webmaster