What is your experience in the areas covered by the workshop scope?
I have been involved in internationalization for more than a decade as an engineer, development manager and product manager. I have been responsible for the development and localization of international products, as well as tools that developers use to create internationalizable products. I have also been responsible for products for localization. I have been a member of the Unicode Consortium and NCITS L2 committee since 1993 and of the W3C internationalization working group since 1999. I am a contributor to the Character Model proposed recommendation and Ruby Annotation recommendation. I have been speaking at conferences on internationalization and development for many years. I have also written guidelines for the companies I have worked for.
What are the needs of your company/organization in the area of internationalization and localization; what would you like to be addressed in the workshop?
The W3C recommendations are written as referencable specifications, often cross-linked to other W3C recommendations and standards from other organizations. This is appropriate for their purpose, but makes it very difficult for software designers to understand how to apply the recommendations. Although there are many books written that explain how to implement or apply the recommendations, they often do not take internationalization and localization into account. We need a set of guidelines that provide an overview of how to apply W3C recommendations to create global documents and applications, which integrates all of the relevant pieces in an understandable and easily implementable way. Otherwise the Web will not operate correctly world wide.
I suspect the following is beyond the scope of the W3C, but the world needs a set of “best practices”, which take into account what vendors actually provide for, in their software. The best example of the need for this is the detection of the charset used by a browser. To understand how it is supposed to work requires wading thru several recommendations, and the reality is that often an undocumented technique of using hidden fields is required. This thwarts efforts to work globally on the web. Having a set of guidelines will be good, but it may not be useful if it addresses how the world should be, but not how it actually is. That said, I can understand why the W3C might not take on comparison of vendors products to establish best practices. However, a list of conformance requirements that a vendor could rate itself with and explain what level of support its products had would be very useful.
Facilities for localization have not been fully addressed to date. We may need guidelines for writing recommendations that take localization into account, before we create localization guidelines for implementers and web designers to follow. (The workshop goals were not clear as to which kind of guidelines were being proposed.) Localization is also a candidate for a separate group, since the majority of participants in the I18N group work on internationalization, and there are few that can represent the requirements of the localization (translators, et al) community. I think this should be discussed and I hope there will be some “localizers” in the workshop.
What are your general expectations on the final outputs of the workshop?
1. Identification of the problem areas.
2. Identifications of areas that make sense for next steps to advance I18N and L10N. (May choose to ignore some problem areas, perhaps because they are out of scope for W3C, perhaps they are not immediate problems, etc.)
3. Identification of the resource requirements and skill sets to move forward on the problems.
4. Recommendations for relative prioritization of the suggested activities.
5. Document listing all of the above and perhaps prototyping potential charter statements for the activities.
I think the above would help W3C members evaluate the value of the proposed efforts and the relative cost.
What are your potential contributions to the discussion, related ideas, and suggested solutions ?
I have practical experience with the current set of issues, I also develop development tools, so have an understanding of the requirements of web application developers (not necessarily web designers).
I am interested in the problem of scoping the guidelines. I have investigated several guidelines produced by vendors and I find they tend to tackle those problems experienced by the author, not necessarily even-handledly covering the subject. Also, they very much depend on the vendor’s technology and what it supports, not necessarily what is required. For example, if the vendor does not have functions specific to currency handling, it might not be discussed. Often, high level issues e.g. privacy, are not covered, yet these vary significantly internationally as well. The web touches on many high-level social issues. We should be careful to scope the guidelines to be achievable, without limiting the guidelines to what has been traditionally covered for other platforms. I did like the taxonomy for their I18N guidelines chosen by Sun:
Most of the other guidelines are listed in:
I would also like to see usability testing considered, to make the guidelines meaningful. I think Jakob Nielsen’s group (http://www.useit.com) for example, does a good job of identifying how users actually interact with web pages. I think guidelines would be more effective if they were developed in conjunction with purposed usability testing.