Re: Convincing executives of character code perils

From: Suzanne Topping (
Date: Tue Oct 24 2000 - 17:01:37 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "J. P." <>

> Articulating and expressing concerns to company
> executives about the perils associated with managing
> multiple character sets is DAUNTING task. The company
> would like to move ahead regardless, which tells me we
> haven't done a good job of educating them.
> I'm trying to temper my cry of "WOLF", while trying to
> educate executives on the RISKS of introducing a
> foreign lanugage other than ENGLISH - French, German,
> Spanish.

Are these the only languages being considered? If so, you
don't need to worry about character set issues.

> We're a multiplatform company (IBM mainframe, NT's,
> Unix, etc.) with a significant amount of programmed
> integration across platforms, managed centrally. Data
> exchange and integration is present across all
> platforms in many instances and is done both
> interactively and in batch or background.
> Localization aside, how have you communicated issues
> and risks associated with introduction of a Western
> European language?

What are your executives Ready-fire-aiming at? What are
they proposing that you do?

Can you give us a better idea about the types of products
you are talking about? There are risks related to delivery
to the market, risks related to regional regulatory requirements,
technical risks, and many others. In general, Western European
languages are not risky as Asian or bidirectional
languages. But without knowing what it is you have in mind, it's
hard to discuss risk.

It's not clear what you are concerned about; trying to make
sure that a single character set (Unicode) is used across
components, or some other issue entirely. Again, if you are only
talking about French, German, and Spanish, character set
is a non-issue. Are you worried about the integration aspects
being a problem? (Not sure how your integration is done, but
XML-based solutions seem like an obvious choice.)

If you can give us a bit more information about what the execs
are trying to do, we might be in a better position to warn about
potential problems.

Suzanne Topping
BizWonk Inc.
(International E-business Solutions for Today's Global Economy)

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