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Using Jujitsu to Globalize Web Applications

Tex Texin - XenCraft & Chris Langewis - ABLE Innovations, Inc.

Intended Audience: Managers, Software Engineers, Systems Analysts, Content Developers, Site Coordinators, Testers, Web Administrators, Web Designers
Session Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Many modern web sites are built using a conglomeration of technologies. Take text from a database, programmatically generate other text, merge in some static HTML or XML pages, perhaps blend in some configuration data, shake well and serve the resulting pages up.

If these pages are to be translated in multiple languages, the traditional approach is to translate each component, the individual text fragments in the database and in the generator program, the static pages, etc. and create a complex system to assemble the pieces while insuring they are linguistically correct. For sites supporting large numbers of pages in many languages, the problem can become intractable.

Jujitsu is a martial art. The main concept is yielding and using the opponents energy to your advantage. This paper will propose an alternative approach to globalizing web applications. Rather than burdening the process of creating web pages with the complexity of translating fragments of text and establishing how to assemble them so they are also linguistically correct, our proposal is to leverage the final output, in the original source language, and use it to our advantage to dynamically translate the assembled page. Jujitsu!

This greatly simplifies the translation and content management problems of the traditional approach.

By using proxy servers, the source language pages are easily intercepted and replaced with their equivalent translations, while strong performance and flexibility are achieved. Schedule conflicts between content developer, software developer, and translators are also greatly reduced.

We will show how this method can work, the issues and benefits of this approach, and provide a demonstration.

This session will be of interest to anyone either involved with the globalization of web applications or having a business need to reduce the cost and complexity of running a multilingual web site.

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30 May 2003, Webmaster