Profound UI’s Rich New Language Options
November 5, 2013 Alex Woodie
Multinational companies that need their IBM i applications to support users in multiple languages may fine the latest Web enablement software from Profound Logic to their liking. With Profound UI version 4.7, which debuted last week, Profound is including a new translation database that makes it easier to support multiple languages in the same application. A new code editor and the capability to persist grid changes from session to session round out the release.
With around 200 paying Profound UI customers and about 500 installations around the world, Profound Logic’s developers are keeping busy with fixes, updates, and change requests to the software. According to Profound Logic CEO Alex Roytman, the version 4.7 release includes about 200 enhancements, which is a lot for a dot release (apparently it has some big plans for 5.0, expected next year).
Much of the development work in 4.7 went into the multi-language capabilities, Roytman said. There are several related features that will help customers support multiple languages. The first is the new translation database that ships with Profound UI 4.7.
As Roytman explains, the new translation database makes it easier for developers to change languages used to display the hard-coded parts of an application, such as field names and error messages. It’s up to the users to populate the translation database with the phrases that will be used, such as “good morning” or “does not compute.” Once those phrases in various languages are added to the database, Profound UI’s visual design tool makes it easy to switch between the different translations, depending on the language of the user.
“As you’re creating a label or a grid with headings in the visual design tool, instead of typing those headings out in just one language, you’re tying them to this translation database,” Roytman says. “So when you’re designing those, you can actually switch languages. You can say, well right now I want to see everything in English. But those labels are not really in English. They’re really tied to a translation database. So you can switch things to Spanish, and right in the design tool you see everything previewed in Spanish.”
Another new feature that’s related to the translation database is a utility that finds those hard-coded phrases in an application that need to be translated. Developers can run a command that identifies the places in the display file source where those phrases are hard-coded, and then run another command to replace that text with a reference to the phrase ID in the translation database. In effect, Profound has virtualized the hard-coded text of an application, enabling users to easily swap in new languages as needed.
This approach automates much of the work of preparing an application for multi-language capabilities and actually delivering that application, Roytman says. “We’ve supported the concept of message files and database-driven fields, but that requires a more manual system and there wasn’t a concept of translation,” he says. “This feature is more specifically for translating constants, and the environment is aware of what is more or less a constant, versus what is data.”
Profound has also done the work of translating some the constant strings that appear in Profound UI applications, such as instructions, error codes, validation messages, and widget text into about a dozen languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and several others. Developers can also add their own translation files if their language is not supported.
The multi-language capabilities will be a boon to Profound’s multi-national customers, Roytman says. “We’ve had customers in different parts so the world. We’ve supported double byte [character sets] and all of that all along,” he says. “Now we have customers that are more sophisticated. Not only do they need to create applications in their own language, but they’re creating applications that they’re going to then serve to different sets or groups of customers, and they’re going to be in different languages.”
The final enhancement in Profound UI 4.7 is support for persistency in grid layout changes. For some time, Profound UI’s widgets have allowed users to sort columns by clicking on a heading–an action that many users have come to expect in this Web 2.0 world.
“But as soon as you left it and came back later, it was back to its default list, default sorting. There was no easy way to save that or persist that from one session to another,” Roytman says. “Now we have the capability to persist those. So if someone had rearranged everything and had it the way they like to see it, when they come back later, it sticks around.”