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Japanese Localization Help?

Cliff posted about 9 years ago | from the I-really-think-so-think-so-think-so dept.

Programming 102

TwoPumpChump asks: "I'm a young engineer, with only modest programming training and experience, (Nothing to match you Gods of the code,) and I have just been assigned with the task of traveling to one of our Japanese factories to learn, then translate and localize some VB 6 code for a product line that we'll be setting up here at our American facility. The application's purpose is to run various tests using GPIB communications, with NI-DAQ hardware for instrument control and dump results into a database, all of which I'm comfortable with. My question is, before I travel half around the globe for the first time ever, is what issues can I expect when localizing Japanese code to US English and what sort of 'toolkit' should I take?"

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102 comments

Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12040778)

Lots and lots of asprin.

Re:Asprin (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12041422)

i dont get it.

how does this affect me as a proffesional visual basic computer security program develloper?

i work in delhi for an american bank to improve their account-management with newest security and marcomedia flashtechnology.

i use a one string for american, one string for french etc.

then i select which string to use with if-question in the code everywhere i need to:
if (ENGLISH): function_call("Hello" + "\n")
else if (FRENCH): function_call("Oui" + "\n")
it's easy if you have some experients with the visual basics; i cannot understand why you americans need indian contractor to do such easy programming.

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12041620)

Professional VB programmer == Professional idiot!

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12041678)

because you are having the terrible engrish

Re:Asprin (1)

bgog (564818) | about 9 years ago | (#12041990)

You are unbelievably ignorant of how to internationalize professional software.

Do you also write loops like this?
num[0] = val[0]
num[1] = val[1]
num[2] = val[2]
num[3] = val[3]
num[4] = val[4]
num[5] = val[5]
...
num[1345] = val[1345]
num[1346] = val[1346]
num[1347] = val[1347]

Really... You should stay away from computers. You might cause real harm one day.

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12042078)

indeed. i do not see a problem with it.

after all, our clients pay us the money depends with the lines of code.

Re:Asprin (1)

jojo tdfb (126691) | about 9 years ago | (#12042243)

actually that would probably run a bit faster than a loop....

cursed branch predictor

[OT] Re:Asprin (1)

pkhuong (686673) | about 9 years ago | (#12042439)

Backward conditional jumps are predicted taken on x86, so the longer the loop runs, the least overhead there is from misprediction. Moreover, main memory latency is huge, as we all know. Less instructions -> smaller memory footprint -> less loads from main memory. Loops are usually better left rolled.

Take that, -funroll-loops etc. people ;)

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12043971)

num[5] = val[5]

...

num[1345] = val[1345]


Good sir, this no compile on my Windows 95 box. It compile for u? Please advise!

Re:Asprin (1)

bgog (564818) | about 9 years ago | (#12044693)

It's called psudo-code. Try compiling it with your mind. I was making a point. Tis all.

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12048685)

It's called psudo-code. Try compiling it with your mind. I was making a point. Tis all.

That's the 2nd sonic boom of a joke flying over your head and you missing it.

Re:Asprin (1)

bgog (564818) | about 9 years ago | (#12050565)

Indeed... Doh. That'll teach me to post to slashdot when tired. :)

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12059968)

It's okay. It was fun watching putz like you.

Re:Asprin (1)

middlemen (765373) | about 9 years ago | (#12045392)

i cannot understand why you americans need indian contractor to do such easy programming.
That's because we Americans sit and do the best research and work here, and send the stupid and time-consuming stuff to India. It's cheaper. You have a large population in India, and hence labor is cheap and you have ample time in your hands to write "stupid & time consuming" albeit necessary part of the code for 1/100th of the price. It makes economic sense. So moral of the story: Americans are not stupid. They are utilising the stupidity of the Indians :))

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12075026)

So, americans are just arrogant?

Blaming VB for bad programming. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 9 years ago | (#12063435)

Is like sueing the hardware store that sold you the hammer that your dropped on your foot.

Re:Asprin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12076037)

Because "hello" in english translates into "bonjour" in french and not in "yes".
We need an indian dictionnary to achieve that.

First things first (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12040792)

localhost$ sed --in-place s/l/r/g *

You are being tossed into the deep-end, my friend (3, Insightful)

treerex (743007) | about 9 years ago | (#12040798)

You must have pissed someone off in a previous life, because this is usually a non-trivial exercise, and the company is trying to do it on the cheap.

Presumably you speak Japanese.

Try Google, searching for localization and internationalization. There are some sites out there that discuss it, even for VB.

How much string processing will you need to do? Will there be data file changes? What is the scope of the UI changes required?

There are companies out there, like Lionbridge or Basis Technology, that make good money doing this for people. Usually they get called after a company has already spent too much trying to do it themselves.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (1)

mystran (545374) | about 9 years ago | (#12041297)

If you don't speak Japanese already, then your attempt at doing even half decent localization (assuming that includes translation) is going to futile, at least without help of someone who speaks both fluent Japanese AND fluent English.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (5, Informative)

patio11 (857072) | about 9 years ago | (#12041673)

Hello from Gifu-ken. Good luck, my friend, you're screwed. Localizing a medium-scale Java program from E->J is a huge undertaking, and Java is practically built around the assumption that the code will go international (native Unicode strings, etc).

Some of your challenges:

1) User expectations. Become friends with your testers (I hope you got a testing department?) and continuously ask them to evaluate whether the software works like expected. Obvious things to watch out for: date, number formatting issues, and the fact that alphabetic sort is expected to be by the table of fifty sounds, not the abc order.

2) Input verification. Strip half-width kana, save yourself a LOT of pain later. Make sure you use a consistent internal representation of Japanese (if I see another person trying to compare Shift-JIS and Unicode for equality by casting to integers and using the equals operator I will stab my own eye out with a pencil).

3) Canonicalization issues in data. Be prepared to weep tears of blood for this. My bank still hasn't figured out how to do it right, so I can't access my account online because my name is written in romaji in their database but their web site accepts only hiragana. Be especially careful with using consistent romanization. This probably means waging total war on both your users and existing data -- have fun!

4) Conversion of postal addresses. You would think this is easy, but people screw it up anyhow. Make sure any input UI asks for addresses in the order expected locally and parses them correctly! I have some business contacts in the US who have my city listed as my apartment building due to software which made assumptions about address ordering for them.

5) Suicide. Japan doesn't have a love affair with it -- thats a myth. You'll want to commit it by the end of this project -- thats a fact.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (1)

abradsn (542213) | about 9 years ago | (#12042525)

Why did this only got mod up one point? This seems very insightful to me.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (2, Insightful)

gibodean (224873) | about 9 years ago | (#12044249)

Why did this only got mod up one point? This seems very insightful to me.

Probably because the poster of the article wants to convert a piece of manufacturing production-line software from Japanese to English, and the parent to your post is talking about going the other way, English to Japanese. He's talking about coding issues with the Japanese language, stuff to do with romaji, postal addresses.

Whilst interesting for other people, that information is probably next to useless for the poster of the article.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (1)

bladesjester (774793) | about 9 years ago | (#12041723)

Either someone is really confident in him or he really cheesed someone there off.

First, you're right. It won't be easy. Heck, accurately translating plain text isn't easy and this is worse.

Second, with VB6 on the chopping block since MS is ending support, why are they wanting to translate a VB6 program *now*?

Just a couple of things to consider...

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (2, Insightful)

Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) | about 9 years ago | (#12041902)

He's right -- this is a difficult task. If you're really sure you want to head this project yourself, though, here's some tips.

(This comes from a recent C/S grad with development experience and five semesters of Japanese.)

I'm assuming you have no Japanese language experience of your own. Maybe you have some experience with their culture. I imagine you will be given access to bilingual folks, who will help you understand their application well enough to Americanize it.

First, remember that Japan and the US have very different ways of thinking. There's a good reason Japanese is a difficult language for us western folk to learn -- just learning to convert one set of concept-words to another set of concept-words isn't sufficient, if the concepts are different.

In practice, this means you need to drag your translation help (kicking and screaming) through the process of translating situations, translating use-cases, not just translating words into different words. Be sure you understand the program's design nearly well enough that you could build it yourself. Ask your translators to spell out what the reader should be thinking when they read something, or what the reader will probably want to do when they read something.

Hope this helps!

--Michael Spencer

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (2)

RootsLINUX (854452) | about 9 years ago | (#12042369)

We are quite similar. I am a recent computer engineering graduate with 5.5 semesters of Japanese (I dropped half-way into my 6th one because it was redundant and annoying). I guess I'm weird, because I never found Japanese difficult *at all*. Especially when compared to some of the CmpE courses I had to take during those 4 years. >_> But yeah, if they expect you to localize software and you don't have an inkling about Japanese language or culture, I would tell your bosses boss that your boss should be fired for either being a moron or a jerk. :)

Hmm, now I'm curious if Slashdot supports non-romanized input for comments. Let's see...

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (1)

RootsLINUX (854452) | about 9 years ago | (#12042406)

It doesn't. It just took the Japanese I typed and threw it away like it was garbage. Damn prejudiced comment board!

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12046871)

God only knows why Slashdot doesn't permit Unicode comments... it's like it's stuck in the 20th century or something.

It's not even like Slash can't handle Japanese perfectly well: slashdot.jp rather proves that.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (1)

Tiroth (95112) | about 9 years ago | (#12089935)

Yeah, I don't get it either. It doesn't munge things up at least...if your browser defaults to Shift-JIS you can enter Japanese comments, but to anyone browsing in ISO it's gibberish.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12042872)

like Lionbridge

Good grief, no need to pile woe upon woe.

Re:You are being tossed into the deep-end, my frie (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | about 9 years ago | (#12043469)

The good news for this guy is that he's being expected to bring the code to the States, not to Japan. So, there's a minute chance the code was written with english variables, so that he can understand the program before having to dig through the software and excising all the strings with a Translate()'d version.

Learn english (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12040866)

for fuckin's sake. you got one "is" too much. it might look irrellevant on slashdott, but it meight be important on your resumee.

Re:Learn english (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12041011)

Eigoga jouzu hanasemasu ne.

Re:Learn english (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12041198)

You speak english skillfully, right?

Re:Learn english (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12042698)

Hai, soo da.

Re:Learn english (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12046816)

hi no seex langages, hinglish de best!

Re:Learn english (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12049350)

"Skillfully" fits kind of awkwardly there. I read it as something more like "this guy speaks great English, doesn't he?," but there are plenty of ways to interpret it.

Re:Learn english (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12049135)

Sou desu.

Depends, has this been localized before ? (2, Informative)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | about 9 years ago | (#12041273)

Maybe not to English - but to SOMETHING.

The first L10N effort involves having to do all the I18N work (ie. moving string resources out of things so that you can just have a translator work on it).

If the code has never been I18N'd - it is a huge horrible task. If it has, just bring an English/Japaneese translation book and do the translation (he he he - if only it really was that easy though)

Translation (1)

packrat0x (798359) | about 9 years ago | (#12041333)

I'm assuming translation for non-japanese speaking programmers.

Try a straight kana -> romaji conversion of the programs first. Next, replace variables with english equivalents.

Same thing with the data, but more (possibly much more) difficult.

Toolkit. Hmmm. Well, something that allows both English and Japanese input (like MS IME stuff). Do you need a dictionary, like edict?

Re:Translation (1)

marcelmouse (74690) | about 9 years ago | (#12047696)

You need a JP EN tech dictionary. What's edict's technical coverage like?

As a point of reference, one of my EN -> JP translators (who is primarily a social-services-and-tourism translator, not a tech translator) owns about $1200 USD worth of JP EN tech dictionaries (that's two dictionaries, fyi). She owns about $6-8K USD worth of dictionaries all told (to cover both JP EN and JP whatever-the-lang-code-is-for-German).

It's not always true, but usually, free dictionaries are crap for translation purposes - or so say my translators. Thr only dissenting opinion is one of my BSC translators (Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian); he uses a 4-lang text file I tracked down to precisely identify colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions. (It's gotta be tough to keep 'em straight, if you're the offspring of a Bosniak & a Croat raised among Serbs.)

Moral: Pay your translators well.

Wait, your bosses have budgeted for translators, right?

Experience level going up up up (2, Interesting)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 9 years ago | (#12041415)

>I'm a young engineer, with only modest programming training and experience, (Nothing to match you Gods of the code,)

If you pull this assignment off, you can change your intro to read: "I'm a seasoned programmer,"

Because it ain't easy.

I think your success will depend entirely on whether someone in the Japanese team is willing to really help you out.

If you've never been to Japan before, read up on cultural differences.

Re:Experience level going up up up (1)

jafuser (112236) | about 9 years ago | (#12044822)

If you've never been to Japan before, read up on cultural differences.

Does anyone know of a good and real readup for this topic? Most of what I read seems to have been passed through several layers of political correctness BS while tiptoing around taboo issues.

As someone who is interested in an extended visit there sometime in the not-too-distant future, I'd like to find something which gives a real perspective of the differences, not a glossy tourist guide version of them.

Re:Experience level going up up up (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 9 years ago | (#12046877)

My wife is japanese, from Japan (she left when she was 25 or so).

I have been to Japan.

Culturally there is very little you can do as an american to get prepared. It's going to be the shock of your life, and not only because it's so foreign, but because it's so modern. Americans equate state-of-the-art with western culture. in Japan, one realizes that state-of-the-art is not American. That's probably the biggest shock.

To get along with the japanese, have "kejime".

quoted from: http://ccins.camosun.bc.ca/~tonks/courses/psyc106/ 106oh5.htm [camosun.bc.ca]:

"-Kejime marks the ability to sense and appropriately react to given situations."

and from http://www.ed.gov/pubs/JapanCaseStudy/chapter5d.ht ml [ed.gov] :

"Teachers emphasize the importance of teaching children to distinguish between times to be quiet and times to be active as well as to distinguish between the noise next door and the quiet activity in their own classroom. Learning this distinction was referred to by teachers as kejime, (to distinguish between) and was seen as an essential socialization process for all Japanese students. One vocational high school teacher told me repeatedly that his goal for his less diligent students was to get them to have kejime so that they could go out into the world of work and behave appropriately in various situations. The architectural openness encourages teachers to teach students to learn to distinguish between appropriate behavior for different times and places."

Re:Experience level going up up up (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 9 years ago | (#12049225)

Ah, reacting appropriately.

This one thing that would be most helpful to know, but which is impossible to convey in any other way that learning the hard way. I think another way of saying it is: "do not cause any friction".

Re:Experience level going up up up (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 9 years ago | (#12049073)

Cultural differences between Japan and what country? There is no single source, because you need one source for every single culture. Thus: find someone smart around you (not just any chick-hunting loser) that has been to Japan, and ask some questions. But even that is probably not enough. It seems Americans among others usually have a great deal of adjusting to do, while some other cultures are more similar.

The starting point is the same as for all other cultures though: Drop all your prejudices and conceptions beforehand. That includes stuff you learnt from anime. Then you can start reading some stuff, but never trust one source alone.

zerg (4, Informative)

Lord Omlette (124579) | about 9 years ago | (#12041448)

Lonely Planet [lonelyplanet.com] and Pimsleur [pimsleurapproach.com].

Japanese write software like crazy and there are plenty of open source coders out there. Make contact w/ a few of them and try localizing their projects to English (US) for the hell of it.

Sounds like you're on a mission impossible, good luck.

Re:zerg (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12042972)

You know, it's not like there's a law that you have to comment on every single story. If you don't have a clue and others (as in this case) are offering real advice from real experience, why not shut the hell up instead of just offering the least stupid thing you can think of?

Re:zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | about 9 years ago | (#12047172)

What didn't you like about my advice? Alternatively, what makes you think I don't have a clue or real experience here?

It seems to me that he's going someplace he hasn't been before to do something he hasn't done before, so IMO, in order to be safe, he should read/listen up on the subject and get some practice in.

Re:zerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12049356)

His question was about performing localization. This [slashdot.org] and this [slashdot.org] are useful, informed advice. Telling him "Gee, if you're going to a foreign country you should buy a guidebook and a dictionary!" is simply running your mouth because you can't bear to stop.

Typically, though, the moderators seem to think that your nonsense is more valuable than their expert advice, so what do I know?

Zerg.

Re:zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | about 9 years ago | (#12049945)

Localization is difficult when you don't know anything about the culture that you're supposed to be localizing to or from. He's going to have to get out and about if he wants to identify and translate the quirks the Japanese programmers may have introduced into their program, quirks that only a native would grok.

I appreciate the direct replies, but if you don't like what the mods mod, then why don't you get an account and mod and/or metamod?

Ah... (2, Funny)

eviltypeguy (521224) | about 9 years ago | (#12041505)

Hello American Investor,

I see you are interested in distributing Mr. Sparkle VB6 Code in your home prefecture. You have chosen wisely. But, don't believe me, observe this commercial...

Random line from the commercial:
Join me or die, can you do any less!

Insight from one who worked in Japan (4, Informative)

panoplos (584853) | about 9 years ago | (#12041657)

I lived and worked as an embedded engineer in Japan on cellular technology, so there are few NB I can perhaps throw your way.

  1. Expect the worst
    All the strings are most likely hard-coded.
    What this means for you is: you will not have the luxury of running this code through a perl script, extracting strings to eventually provide one-to-one correlations in the other target langauge (in this case, English).
    Given that Japanese and English grammar differ greatly enough to affect the formatting of strings, many of the strings that will require translation will necessitate rethinking how the data is displayed on the GUI. This is only exacerbated by the fact that VB allows you to build strings with semtantics like "Processing test #" & testIdx & "'s results." (in Japanese: testIdx & "banme no tesutokekka wo shorichuu") -- damn slashdot completely removed my Japanese when I tried to input it!!
  2. Encoding issues
    I am not sure about VB in this regard, but you may run into issues with the character set encoding they are using. Most likely this will be Shift JIS on older Windows systems.
    ASCII is pretty much universal accross code sets, but it would be wise to port everything over to UNICODE, just incase you are going to have to support other langauges in the future.

I am sure there are other things you will run into, but I wouldn't sweat it. As much as possible, use tools for internationalisation of strings, i.e. gettext.

Hope this helps.

Only one thing to do... (2, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | about 9 years ago | (#12041984)

I had to think about this for a bit, but I think there's only one thing to do:

Quit.

Honestly, if I was in your situation, and I could not talk anyone out of it, I'd either quit or demand a gigantic pay raise unless they were already paying me really well.

Were this in Java or Python or a web app, something where you stand a chance with international charsets, it might be OK.

English to German or some other Latinate language might be OK.

If this was in something that didn't depend on drawing static forms on the screen, but instead built the forms from metadata, you might stand a chance. (This is assuming your VB app took the path of least resistance and doesn't already run this way, so you'll be completely re-drawing every form.)

An app that had already been localized into something else might be OK, or one that had been planned for it since the beginning.

But this? Absurdly large task for one person. You could be doing this for years, and it's just not fun enough for that.

I sure hope the code is of a decent quality. If it's spaghetti code to boot, this message goes from 25% toungue-in-cheek to full out serious advice, because the L10N is going to touch everything. You're going to be stunned what new code paths are going to be generated.

Re:Only one thing to do... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12042050)

Quit.

What the fuck? They're sending the dude to Japan. He should go and have a damn good time. A damn hell ass good time. If it doesn't work out, THEN he can quit.

Re:Only one thing to do... (1)

Jerf (17166) | about 9 years ago | (#12042447)

AC says: What the fuck? They're sending the dude to Japan. He should go and have a damn good time. A damn hell ass good time. If it doesn't work out, THEN he can quit.

Touche'.

But you get my point. :-)

Issues? (1)

Kanasta (70274) | about 9 years ago | (#12042167)

Well, everyone in Japan speaks Japanese for one thing. If you can't, then be prepared for a fun time!!
Sounds like a fun job tho. Where did you find it?

Thanks for the advice so far, some more points... (4, Informative)

TwoPumpChump (767573) | about 9 years ago | (#12042247)

I'm very grateful so far for the advice, (I submitted this,) I should have mentioned that yes, I do not speak a lick of Japanese but will have a couple of bilingual assistants. Only one of whom, however, is fluent enough in English to be of any use. Also, he is a decent VB programmer in his own right and as you may guess, I'll be buying him dinner to keep him on my good side. Unfortunately, he's a busy fellow so he won't be dropping in to help, except sporadically. The only other saving graces is that the software will have limited users (all in house; not released to the public, so I can indeed babysit the application.) But the biggest tip I'm picking up is to learn at program inside and out while I'm there, around the original developers, so when I get it stateside I'll know intimately what it's supposed to do and what it's supposed to accomplish. That, and to pray and pray hard ;-) Thanks, y'all

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (4, Insightful)

bladesjester (774793) | about 9 years ago | (#12042376)

Honestly, who did you get on the wrong side of? They're sending you to Japan when you have absolutely no Japanese language skills in order to work on translating a program written in a language which is not going to be suppored by its creator in a few months.

To top it off, you have only two assistants for this on the native language side of things, only one of which is any help and he's not going to be there all that often.

It sounds like a project someone wants to fail before it's even started. I'd be asking myself if you angered one of your bosses (or if it's a power play between two higher ups and you're just a pawn).

Please tell me your boss didn't catch you in bed with his daughter or wife ;)

In all seriousness, though, this may be (though is not necessarily) a rather negative indication of your life expectancy at the place you are currently employed (wether it is because of something you did or if you're just a sacrificial lamb...)

My advice? Do the best you can without killing yourself and try to have some fun while you're there. Good luck. You're going to need it...

Oh man (0, Offtopic)

Eternally optimistic (822953) | about 9 years ago | (#12042676)

This does look grim. Maybe while you are there, learn some Japanese, and find a new job in a better company there. Best thing would be to defect to the competition.

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (2, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about 9 years ago | (#12044468)

I agree with the other poster - this project sounds like it's set up to fail.

You haven't mentioned a timeframe for the project. If it's a year or more, really, seriously consider studying Japanese half-time during your stay (you really should be able to make a good case for it, seeing as how localization is supposed to be the point). Also, make a point of befriending people and absorbing the local culture. When you are fired and the project cancelled, you have a couple of pretty weighty bullet points to add to your resume.

Oh, and don't sweat being in Japan too much. It's not all that different from Scandinavia, for example; just go with the flow, learn from your experiences and try not to make too big an ass of yourself and you'll be fine. Just like everywhere, if people percieve that you are making an honest effort, they will be very gracious about stuff and very willing to help you out.

Living in this country is a very worthwhile experience.

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (1)

computational super (740265) | about 9 years ago | (#12048178)

Honestly, who did you get on the wrong side of?

You know, I read the post and thought "Who did he get on the right side of/who did he have to have naked pictures of to land this position?" I've had lots of s-sucking assignments which I had to complete in such exotic places as Oklahoma city, Champaign Illinois, and Cincinatti, Ohio. When I was in college for my undergraduate (10 years ago now), I took courses in Japanese because I dreamed of a job involving overseas travel. I knew such jobs existed, and I even spent a year studying in a Japanese university learning to speak the language fluently. After graduation (majored in Computer Science, flame away), I've worked for several companies with international presence, with lots of opportunities for travel (including to Japan), all of which I've applied for... and all of which I've been turned down for. Yet, every day I run into somebody who spent years over there on their employers dime - who never even bothered to learn the language in the first place! I guess I've just been unknowingly somehow pissing off each and every human being with whom I come into contact at work in spite of my best efforts to get along with my coworkers, 'cause this doesn't make any sense at all. Sigh... must be true what they say - "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

Wow... I didn't realize how jealous and angry and sad and bitter I was about that until I started responding. Hey, parent poster, have a fun trip - Japan is an awesome place to live for a Gaijin. I'll be over here seething with jealousy, but don't take that personally - that's just the way I am.

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12058811)

You'll get there eventually but you can't wait for it to happen, you need to go and get it. Take yourself there if your employer won't. The older you get the bigger the gamble will be, so don't waste too much time thinking yourself out of it.

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 9 years ago | (#12049177)

I'm torn between "you're probbably right" and "his bosses are just fools who think it'll be a trivial task".

The upside sounds like the app doesn't have to support both languages at the same time. That's a MAJOR saving grace. That means he can just rip out the japanese menu descriptions, and put in english equivs. No infra-structure for swapping between english/japanese is needed. There's disadvantages to this too of course. A code fork means two seperate, but incompartible versions of the app are going to be developed. Sharing code between them is going to be non-trivial because of the language barrier.

The easy part is going to be translating the interface. Menu item labels, etc shouldn't be that hard if you have someone to help you translate them. You might have to have a translator sitting at your side as you translate the interface. The hard part is going to be any maintenance done to this program. Since all the variable names, comments, etc are all going to be in Japanese this app is going to be a nightmare to maintain.

Not a whole lot to add. (1)

hrieke (126185) | about 9 years ago | (#12045217)

Assuming that the function of the code does not change often then I really see your project being more of adding a locationization modual and making sure that the data entered validates before hitting the DB (formating too), and that the querries return the data in the local format.

I would personally have the local programmers sit down and do the following:
Build a branch of the source code for you.
Translate all strings and comments into English.
Then you will have to:
Comment the code with your own thoughts as you run it in debugger mode.
Watch everything and see how the program should and should not be used.
After wakarimasu (lit. understand, but more like eruka!), make your changes.

Good luck!

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (1)

pavon (30274) | about 9 years ago | (#12047650)

The application's purpose is to run various tests using GPIB communications, with NI-DAQ hardware for instrument control and dump results into a database, all of which I'm comfortable with.

How large is this program? From you description, it sounds like a simple test and mesurement application, and you have done those sort of things in the past. It also sounds like the real task you are being assigned is not to "port and localize", but to make an application that "does pretty much the same thing as the one we have in japan". Does your boss expect the Japanese program and the American program to have an identical code base when all is said and done? Does he care at all if you use the same code, or just wants something that words?

Localization can be a fairly difficult job - it involves making code that can adapt to all sorts of different languages and cultural expectation, by changing just a few translation files and not the entire code base. If that is what you boss wants then I agree with everyone else that you are up for trouble. But it sounds to me that you don't need to go that far. You just want to manually adapt a program to english, so you have something to use in-house. Get familiar with what the program does, and ask yourself if you could do that from scratch, given your knowledge of test and measurement programming. Don't automatically freak out if it is bigger in scope than anything you've done before, so long as the individual chunks seem managable to you. If you can handle them I wouldn't worry - you'll survive.

I'd also talk to you boss about what your constraints are. If all the code (variable / class/ function names) is not in english, and if it is a small program, it might be better to write the code from scratch in english using the existing software as a guideline and reference, not a code base. I am porting some code written by a german, and it is really tricky to figure out what the code does when all the variable names are randoms strings to me. If the code is very readable, and all you need to do is change the prompts and dates to english and what-not, then by all means use the existing code.

I would definately try and figure out how you technical ability stands up against this project very soon. Take a good look at the timeframe you have. If this project slips will it prevent or delay the product line? Most importantly be very upfront with your boss if you have any doubts about fulfilling his tasks. Better you warn him upfront then he find out when the project fails. If you decide you are in over your head, and your boss is inflexable, I would start looking for other jobs in case you become a scapegoat.
Regardless, enjoy your trip to Japan. That alone is a wonderfull opportunity, and you should take full advantage of it.

Re:Thanks for the advice so far, some more points. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12050009)

As for living in Japan, be aware of the difference in exchange rates and the overall cost-of-living differences.

Depending on where you go, the USD->YEN exchange rate will not work in your favor and downtown Tokyo (for instance) is outright obscene when it comes to daily expenses (Read: expensive for Japanese people).

IMHO, don't do this without a sizable per-diem and/or one helluva raise.

Don't forget, they're also impacting your personal life as you'll be thousands of miles away from anything or anyone you're familiar with. You deserve compensation for that.

Don't listen to them (4, Informative)

ag0ny (59629) | about 9 years ago | (#12042549)

I've been living in Tokyo for three years now, working for a software development company. Even though I'm a systems administrator, I've had to do localizations on occasion. Both ways: Japanese to English and English to Japanese.

If you were to do an English->Japanese localization you would be in deep trouble. But you say that the work is in the opposite direction. In that case it's not that hard, assuming that you can read some Japanese or that there's someone in the company who can help you with the translation.

Some of the problems you'll be facing:

- Get used to work on a Japanese Windows. Your English Windows will not be adequate for this.
- Dates. They are written as YYYY+(kanji for year)+MM+(kanji for month)+DD+(kanji for day).
- Input validation. You'll have to REMOVE lots of code that you won't need in the (more simple) English version. And in order to know what you have to remove, you'll have to understand it first. Learn about hankaku-zenkaku characters, katakana, hiragana and kanji, and how they're encoded in Shift-JIS.

Mail me if you need help/advice.

Prelim work (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 9 years ago | (#12042737)

My question is, before I travel half around the globe for the first time ever

As this is internal company code, have you seen it and done some of the groundwork before you go?

Jumping all the way to Japan, blind, is not the way to do it.

Many years ago (3, Informative)

darnok (650458) | about 9 years ago | (#12042809)

I had the job of translating some Swedish surveying software into English. I also had to convert it for use in the southern hemisphere, which was non-trivial as well.

By the time I finished, I swear I knew every line of that code. It's a BRUTAL job, trying to translate variable, class, functions etc. names to English. You know how you may abbreviate a variable named "count" to "cnt"? Guess what, they do the same in Sweden too, except they abbreviate Swedish words.

If I was doing this again, I'd
- NOT agree to have it working within a specific timeframe, because the work consists of loads of breakthrough thoughts and ideas that are essentially unplannable
- give serious thought to a rewrite from scratch. As your code is VB6 which is now out of MS support, and not that easy to support anyway, you may want to consider this option
- demand a local, bi-lingual coder who'd worked on the code to work with me, at least in the initil phases
- state very clearly that I'd be working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and no more on this project. It's extremely easy to fall into working huge hours with a project of this type, as you wind up having to hold huge amounts of info in your head and time just blows out the window in those cases
- try to get a work partner, as the task is mentally draining and you need someone else to look at things when your brain starts to wind down

Good luck, and enjoy Japan - it's an incredibly beautiful place to visit. Make sure you set aside time to have a look around

Re:Many years ago (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 9 years ago | (#12044437)

The Japanese code I've seen (which admittedly is a bit limited) mostly uses english-based wording for stuff like variable, function and class names.

Comments, on the other hand, are of course usually in Japanese. On the third hand, most peoples' comments don't really become any more understandable just because you have them in a language you know :)

I'd say the big challenge is in the string translations. You really need someone with both really good working (not just study) knowledge of both languages as well as at least some domain knowledge. If you haven't, it's going to be an ugly mess no matter what you do.

Re:Many years ago (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 years ago | (#12050204)

I also had to convert it for use in the southern hemisphere, which was non-trivial as well.

Was this toilet flush vortex management software or something?

Re:Many years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12061256)

Tough.

Just worth noting, that in general, Swedes don't code in Swedish. It's considered bad style. Of course, being a VB app, I can see it happening.

(Wouldn't suprize me if MS example programs were written with Swedish names, just to be more 'user friendly')

Practical solution (1, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | about 9 years ago | (#12043575)

Hi,

I emailed a response to the address on your /. id. I'm an experienced software developer and business coordinator based in Tokyo. I've got a lot of experience in localization and other issues you will be running into head-on, am also a professional translator and fluent in Japanese.

Anyway, I'm willing to talk to you more about your own project to give you some pointers if you want, though from a business perspective you most likely should hire me or someone with similar qualifications to solve all the problems for you quickly and at minimum cost.

It's good to have relations between factories but if you are juggling budget and time constraints while not being experienced in Japan I think you should get an ally who can navigate you through those waters or just do the whole job. Otherwise you are likely to reiterate typical technical and cultural issues that usually accompany such projects.

Technically though going from Japanese to English is much better than the other way around, since the roman alphabet is usually supported within Japanese though many symbols are not. More likely you will have problems getting there, commmunicating without any misunderstandings (they will expect you are a pro at localization just like your company expects they are), reading documentation, and then expectations about what is acceptable technically, user-wise and culturally. Also you will likely also have to represent your company and answer business-related questions, though this will be in English probably. Anyway if you don't take this advice I sincerely wish you luck, but I doubt this is the time for expensive lessons in intercultural communications and problem solving. Anyway check the email please. I could get this done for you this week, save you a trip, and either do the whole thing or help you localize yourself.

mattr (at no spam) telebody (dotnet)

Wrong man for the job. (1)

sakusha (441986) | about 9 years ago | (#12044005)

It is best if the translator to be a native speaker of the target language. So you really need to have E->J work done by a native Japanese speaker. You're the wrong man for the job.
Just think about it. How many times have you read crappy instruction manuals written in incomprehensible English that were obviously produced by non-native speakers of English? You're about to produce something roughly equivalent. The world has enough sucky incomprehensible things, even in Japan, do you want to create more of them?

Re:Wrong man for the job. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 9 years ago | (#12047892)

You really need to RTFA, he isn't going from E->J, he is going the OTHER way around.....jeez....Japanese fanboys......

It isn't clear what the task is (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 9 years ago | (#12044126)

It isn't really clear to me from your post what the task is. Is it to translate the code itself, so that a programmer knowing only English can understand the variable names and so forth, or is it to localize the interface, that is, provide English messages and labels, use American format dates, and so forth? The best thing that you can do is get a look at the code long before you leave for Japan. In my experience (which is mostly of research code written by electrical engineers and computer scientists) the code itself is written in the Roman alphabet and frequently uses primarily if not exclusively English identifiers. The comments, on the other hand, are often in Japanese written the usual way, encoded in Shift-JIS or EUC-JP. If you're lucky and either are not tasked with translating the code itself or find that it is in English already, you only have to worry about the interface, and with luck you'll be able to figure out a lot of that without actually being able to read Japanese from the program logic and your knowledge of the tasks the program performs.

If you are actually expected to do extensive translation, you're in big trouble. It simply isn't reasonable to expect someone with no knowledge of Japanese to do this. Not only do you have to deal with an almost completely unfamiliar vocabulary, you have to deal with a very complex unfamiliar writing system and with a language that is grammatically very different from English. Translating from Japanese to English is not just a matter of looking up the words.

Anyhow, if you're going to have to try to deal with written Japanese, you can at least give yourself a head start. Get yourself a straightforward textbook that focusses on the grammar and basic vocabulary. Since your primary goal is NOT to learn to speak Japanese, the conversation oriented books for tourists and even those used in university courses aimed at developing speaking ability are not what you want. Try "Teach Yourself Japanese". It covers the basic grammar and basic vocabulary quite nicely, in romanization. Secondly, learn to read kana. In a short time, you aren't going to learn a sufficient number of Chinese characters to be useful, but you can learn kana, which will at least give you an idea what you are looking at.

If you are going to have to tackle unromanized text, you need a way to look up words, and unless you have a terrific visual memory and linguistic skills, looking up Chinese characters in a regular dictionary as a raw novice is going to be terribly difficult and time consuming. Familiarize yourself with a tool that glosses the text for you andmake sure you'll have access to it. Try Japanese Reading Tool [tiu.ac.jp].

Other side of the coin? (1)

The-Bus (138060) | about 9 years ago | (#12044832)

I think an easy way to get a Japanese perspective would be to ask this same question on Slashdot Japan [slashdot.jp]. Then at least you can compare expectations.

Don't freak out yet. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 9 years ago | (#12045944)

It may not be so bad.
The program I work on supports English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
If the programmers did it right to start with it could be as simple as editing a few resource files. Our app is set up this way yes it can be done for some types of programs.
From your description I am guessing that things like phone numbers and street addresses are not an issue.
The only really tricky part is will you have to deal with unit conversions I.E. metric vs US. And or date issues DD/MM/YY vs MM/DD/YY. Hopefully the database has standard date format. I have yet to see one that does not.
The other issue I see is will the two locations be sharing data? Will the program have to support data in both English and what ever flavor of Japanese they are using?

Two (plus) part process... (1)

j_cavera (758777) | about 9 years ago | (#12047301)

Part zero - Do the metric conversion. All measurements and engineering units should be displayed in metric. The rest of the world just doesn't do as well with rods per hogshead.

Part one - Get rid of all hardcoded strings. Anytime you need to display a string, read it from a config file (numbers excepted of course). This part can be done in english. Make sure that the config file, and the utility to read it, understands unicode.

An easy way to make sure that you get every string is to (temporariliy) tag all strings with some known garbage string. Doesn't matter what the garbage string is so long as it will never appear in the finished app. In other words, if a hardcoded string in the application says "Connect", then change the app to read a string from the config file that says "baloney-Connect". As you are using the app, every string should be prefaced by "baloney-" and if not, then you've forgotten it and need to put it in to the config file.

When you are done, you will have an app that gets all UI strings from a unicode file.

Part two - Change the contents of the file from english to Japanese via hiragana and katakana. Don't try for the proper kanji just yet. Run it past some (native Japanese-speaking) testers to get the vocabulary and the feel down.

Part two and a half - Finally ask several native Japanese speakers for the proper kanji. This is a tough part for someone who learned Japanese in school (or at least it is for me). Don't necessarily trust yourself to it. You could inadvertantly say something along the "all your base..." lines.

Part three (optional) - Do try to move them from GPIB. It's real a pain, cables can only go 3 feet, data rates are low, and the NI-DAQ drivers can be... obscure. At least save a bit of suffering and switch to LabVIEW.

- Jim

Toolkit Suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12047600)

www.google.com
A big bottle of gin!

zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | about 9 years ago | (#12047648)

Michael Kaplan [msdn.com] is Microsoft's Unicode expert. You might want to read through his blog's archives.

I mean, if the project is VB6, there's a good bet that it's using multi-byte characters instead of unicode, but maybe reading his blogs will help give you an idea of what you're facing and what to look for...

Man, I really hope you give us a slashback of how it went after you get back...

Re:zerg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12049064)

I've seen this myth perpetuated time and time again, but VB6 strings are native Unicode. (Which actually sucks, but that's another issue. :) Oddly enough, though, the IDE seems to be multibyte, and won't display Japanese characters on an American version of Windows.

If you're running Windows XP, I recommend Microsoft's AppLocale utility, which should let you fool any Windows application into thinking it's running on native Japanese Windows.

Something important you won't be told (2, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 years ago | (#12047667)

1. Get some good business cards and a silver or aluminum business card holder to put them in. Present them held with two hands as if presenting a letter sealed by wax. When someone gives you one, treat it as a ceremony and place it reverently in the holder.

2. Hold your arms close to your body - do this all the time as if at attention.

3. YES does not mean yes. It means maybe. People will say Yes and not do what you think they agreed to a lot.

4. Food is very very important there - if someone invites you to eat, always accept and always try every dish offered - at least some. Yes, they make loud noises when eating - this means they like it - don't try to imitate this for a while until you understand when.

5. Small gifts are part of the whole respect thing, you're expected to choose something nice for people you work with.

Noone will tell you this to your face.

Take a step back and think. (1)

mozu (862682) | about 9 years ago | (#12047774)

All is not lost. You can't speak Japanese but fortunately you have two bilingual assistants. Both of them are going to be useful.

Stick to coding and leave the translation to the translators. However make their job easier by prioritising what needs to be translated first ie. GUI. Also make sure the template that needs to be translated is kept concise, neat, and easily understood.

With regards to above, expect your translators to really screw up your source code. So be ready for some emergency debugging.

Learn Japanese customs and its cultures. Learn simple polite greetings and etiquettes. This is important. Eg. CmdrTacosan, bowing, being polite etc. Also the Japanese may like to see you working slightly longer and a bit harder than the rest of your team. Don't forget there are slight regional variations.

Lastly don't forget that your main job is to be a project leader. Don't let the enormity of the task lead you astray.

Bring gifts and some cultural pointers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12048418)

Bring some regional speciality from your area. It doesn't have to be much but bring enough for 10-15 people at least. If your coworkers invite you out for drinks remember to never pour your own drink and be sure to pour for other people. Pouring your own drink makes you look like an acholohic and it's impolite or something. All japanese business men are alchoholics but they don't want anyone to know it. When you eat sushi dip the fish part in the soy sauce and never put soy sauce on rice. Also never stand your chopsticks up in a bowl of rice, it reminds people of a funeral ceremony. Eat at places with the plastic food out front. You can bring the waiter outside to point at what you want. The plastic food places are cheaper too. You're not allowed in "snack bars" (hostess bars) if you're white.

Notes on Japanese Localization (1)

lyasik (867989) | about 9 years ago | (#12053497)

Notes on Japanese Localization. ... For the localization supplier, a methodical approach and local help are indispensable, and it is necessary to establish ... Not Japanese Localization on snowboard [sportinworld.com] and jewelry [jewelrydiamondgift.com]

Been There Done That (2, Informative)

Space Cow (93479) | about 9 years ago | (#12055779)

I read, write, and speak Japanese daily in my full-time job. Before that I free-lanced doing translation of both documents and software.

There were a number of useful comments posted in response to your question, but there is an important point most of them leave out (speaking from experience here). VB and VBA applications written in Japanese tend to have UI objects with Japanese names. There may be hundreds of widgets with the default name of CheckBox1, etc, but in Japanese. You must change the Japanese object names for the application to run on English language machines. Tracking these down and correcting both the object name and all ocurrences in the source is not trivial and no fun. I cannot recall if VB6 has an autochange feature (newer VBA has this) that changes source code references for objects when the object name changes, but you should look into this immediately.

For one enormous MS Access VBA localization project, I ended up writing scripts that scoured through the object collections and changed the names for me...this was significantly faster than clicking through the VBA UI and manually making the changes. If you have experience with VB, you should consider creating tools like this to speed up the process. A toolset like this will be very helpful for this project and future ones they will likely throw at you if you are sucessful.

To be honest, it is going to be much more difficult for you since I read in your followup that you don't read Japanese. I believe your company is making a mistake and should consider hiring a contractor with appropriate experience and skills to do this. I am willing to go into more detail on some of my experiences via email. If you are interested, contact me at spacecow10 at hotmail.com. Make your subject easy to pick out from spam since I will have to find you in the Junk Mail folder.

Good luck.

Japanese stress testing (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 9 years ago | (#12062788)

I work as a sysadmin in a freakin Japanese goverment institute with about 4000+ machines in there. I have to manage not only the systems analysis, but build new systems, upgrade and patch machines, document them, translate announcements to English, handle system events, and write work reports to superiors. And I have to do all that alone, on their schedule. Basically they replaced a guy with 17 years of experience (who couldn't hack it anymore) with me with only 2 and a bit years experience. Somehow I am coping because I devised some survival strategies. Basically, Japanese employers are like spoilt children. They demand too much for too little and they want to have everything done yesterday. They also don't care about whatever you feel because they're paying you (a lousy salary) so they don't have to care. I can see how this would cause certain salarymen to jump in front of trains. I don't think it's unusual in Japan for people to overwork and stress out like this because of ridiculous work conditions and greedy employers. Chances are you have been given "mission impossible", and so my advice to you is not to stress out. Take your time, and learn to STALL your project to your own schedule. It's rude in Japan to say "I can't do this", or "I won't be able to make it on schedule" to your employers because it takes away the warm fuzzy feeling you want to give them (which is more important than your techinical ability). NEVER tell them that the project is a complete mess that you just can't do. You will basically have to spin a web of half-truths to keep your head above water. Japanese are very group oriented, and you can use that to your advantage so you don't have to take individual blame for anything that goes wrong. Learn to share the blame (i.e. "It was a team failure") rather than incriminate yourself for a mistake you made. The Japanese do this all the time themselves. If you're not making things on time, blame something else and tell them you're "still checking" the situation ("kakuninn chuu" in Japanese). This confuses the Japanese, and they think that you're taking so long to do the job because you are being "thorough" and perfectionist... something the Japanese like. You can almost do this indefinately to stall things. Also blame other external influences and say "shikataganai" (it cannot be helped) to stall things further. Also, if you appear anal retentive about checking your work out - you'll impress people. As long as you appear like a perfectionist, you can take all the time you want. It's a fine balance keeping superiors happy, getting the job done, and not stressing out yourself. Good luck.

Doomed, I say! (1)

chiph (523845) | about 9 years ago | (#12062797)

Yes, it's a doomed project. But look at it this way, you'll get to spend a month or so in Japan (one of the most expensive places on Earth) with all of it being paid for by someone else. My advice is to leave work early on Fridays, buy a rail pass, and go see the sights. Just be ready to jump ship the moment they bring you back to the US. This will count as "burning your bridges", career-wise, but is justified, based on what they want you to do. Chip H.

String resources! (1)

DeanAsh (531960) | about 9 years ago | (#12072862)

I recently had to facilitate translation of our (C++) instrumentation software into 5(!) different languages, including simplified Chinese. Luckily, almost all the strings in the project were in resources. Unluckily, there was no unicode support.

Surprisingly, it didn't take that long to write in unicode support and fix up the few remaining string literals. One thing is paramount - make sure that the code is separated from the language specific stuff. Do Not Fork! You should be able to make changes to the code and produce up-to-date English/Japanese versions at will.

I keep each language's resources in a separate DLL. At runtime, the main exe will search for any language DLL in the same dir, and load resources from the first one it finds. If no dlls are found, it falls back on the English resources in the main exe. The installer copies in the right language dll (if needed).

I can't vouch for the difficulty involved in translating the resource strings, though I understand it's a Pain In The Arse. Happily, it's a non-software specific PITA which you might be able to palm off onto a non-developer. I did.

Gambatte kudasai (Good luck) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12073823)

Going to Japan? lucky you, It is my favourite place and I have been to about 20 countries (From East Europe to Central America to Asia and Pacific).. I am very envious..
BTW, Do not take your credit card anywhere near "electric town"..
Pitty slashdot won't let me post kanji...

Anyway.. these people have some translation software (I have a OSX version on my Japanese iBook): http://www.asciisolutions.com/ which you can buy at http://www.shinseido.co.jp/ in Shinjuku or at the "Softmap" in Shinjuku or Akihabara (Electric town)...

Stay out the BJ bars.

Make use of design patterns (1)

gothmog666 (688652) | about 9 years ago | (#12074629)

Design patterns are universal.

If you are working with OO, create a singleton adapter called configuration manager.

Configuration options should be decorators.

Managed data, let's say Multiple laguage strings must be in a separate database (or text file, suit yourself) from the system.

Make your code enter in the japanese codebase.
This is the only way you are getting support for the rest of the team.

And remember: Japanese is just another language. There is nothing magical in their alphabet - it is just incomprehensible.
Japanese people acctualy CAN read what they write. ;)
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