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Thread: Unicode or NOT!

  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot boballoo's Avatar
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    Unicode or NOT!

    There are two problems here: 1) How do I display two different languages on the same page? 2) Should I use Unicode or specific language encodings for the pages sent to the user's browser?

    I have a very limited knowledge of this area so please correct me if my understanding of this issue is wrong. I have, unfortunately, concluded that it is best to use language specific encodings for a site using multiple languages on one page. Yes, browser support for Unicode is almost universal now but when a browser is installed, it automatically uses the language encoding for the user's OS language as the default. This means that when the user goes to a page using Unicode the user must change the language encoding of their browser in order to view the page. For many this action is not difficult but I would rather not force the user to perform a task just to view the page.

    The site, TranslationHelp, allows translators to create their own Web profile in their target language and in their source language (one page for each). The problem here is that the common menus and links are in English (eventually the site will be translated into several other langauges), but the text of the profile page will be in the translator's chosen language. (The translator's target and source languages are selected upon registration and the language encoding is automatically chosen when the translator enters the text in the respective Profile creation forms.)

    My original idea was to have both Unicode and language specific pages available and then dynamically detect the language settings of the user's browser ("user" here means potential clients searching for a translator) and send the appropriate page (presumably the user would only want to read the web profile pages in their language) in either Unicode or the specific language encoding of the user's browser. Therefore, if the site can detect the user's language settings the user will be able to view the correct page without having to adjust the language encoding of their browser.

    So, the question is do I need to use Unicode if the pages are set to display correctly for those users who have the same language encoding settings as the page they are viewing? The answer is NO! If the pages are created with the language encoding appropriate for that language then those who wish to view that page will (presumably) have the correct browser setting and thus we do not need to use Unicode.

    In the end, I think the answer is to simply send the page with the language encoding chosen by the translator upon registration. Potential clients wishing to read that translator's page will have the same language encoding as the translator's page. Unicode is not the default encoding of user's browsers so I cannot see why anyone would choose to use Unicode. Why not simply use the specific language encoding for that page?
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  2. #2
    In memoriam gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Schulz's Avatar
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    What languages do you plan to support on your Web site?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot boballoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Schulz
    What languages do you plan to support on your Web site?
    Thanks for breaking the silence here on Sitepoint, Dan. This is a translation web site (http://www.translationhelp.com) There are over five hundred translators registered. Each of these translators will have a Target language page and a Source language page. I have not gone through to count the specific languages yet, but there will be several dozen languages from all countries in the world.

    I should add sheepishly that I have changed my mind from the original posting here. Unicode is probably the only way to do what I want to do efficiently.
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