Internationalization in HTML Interface Design

Andrea Vine - Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Intended Audience: Software Engineer, Systems Analyst
Session Level: Intermediate


To help engineers and designers understand internationalization issues in CGI scripts/programs.


This presentation begins with the design of HTML forms. HTML has character set limitations which require planning and workarounds to produce a properly internationalized interface. Designers must consider that the server has limited knowledge of client preferences, and so must provide explicit information from the user interface. Field-inclusion based on an international audience is discussed; designers must determine whether the data is just language- specific, or locale-specific. CGI language strengths and weaknesses are briefly presented to illustrate the functionality which software creators should examine before selecting a particular programming language. Problem areas in writing the HTML pages are covered, such as displaying two different charsets in a single frame, or understanding native system control of input text areas. Some scenarios are described illustrating these points. Engineers are advised of particular HTML quirks, and ways to work around them. Coding and testing issues are then presented, highlighting some key places to watch for. The summary stresses that building an internationalized application with an HTML interface requires planning and creative solutions.

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21 Jun 2000, Webmaster