Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

Cover Story: A Practical Solution to Internationalization of a J2EE Web App

Making Web Applications Multilingual

As the Internet crawls to even more remote corners of the globe, the internationalization of Web applications exposes a plethora of challenges. As a real-world example, if an airline starts reaching far more remote destinations across international frontiers, a Web application representing the airline's ecommerce will face numerous challenges in terms of internationalizing the ecommerce itself.

These challenges result from many causes. For instance, one basic thing that differs from one country to another is the spoken language. Among countries where the same language is spoken, the colloquiality of the language differs. For example, in some parts of the world, the word "baggage" is widely used to represent personal belongings such as suitcases of a traveler. In some other parts of the world, the same is referred to as "luggage." In terms of ecommerce, there are numerous variations from country to country such as different currencies, different tax laws, different forms of payment, and - most important - different business rules governing the application.

Essentially, there are two parts to the internationalization of a Web application. The first part is internationalization of the application code. This involves preparing the code so that it can adapt itself to new languages and regions. In practice, this preparation involves the separation of text, labels, display messages, and any other data that is sensitive to language and region of the world. This type of adaptation of code enables generalization of the product in such a way that it can handle new languages and countries without any re-design. The second part is localization of the application. This involves actual adaptation of the internationalized code to a specific language or region (aka locale). In practice, localization involves creation of translated text, labels, and messages, and the addition of any other application data that is specific to a certain locale.

Internationalization is a common problem that typically gets a blind eye turned toward it during design and development. Internationalization design must be up-front work in the development life cycle and not an afterthought. It is rightly said, "a stitch in time saves nine." It may not be too easy to design for internationalization up front; however, it will be far more difficult to incorporate internationalization at a later stage when the application has already been developed. Up-front planning for application internationalization can save significant amounts of time and money. There could be myriad ways of addressing this problem; however the following approaches are widely used:

  • Creating internationalized pages that retrieve locale-dependent content using custom tags. This approach is typically employed if all of the pages consistently follow the same structure and look and feel across different locales. This approach also provides for easy maintenance and future enhancements across all of the locales. This approach may also employ a single source for business logic components that process the logic based on the locale.
  • Creating separate locale-specific pages. This approach is typically employed if the structure and the look and feel of the pages differ significantly across locales. In this case, there may be separate business logic components for each locale.
  • Using portal technology. Vendors such as BEA provide support for portal technology. For example, BEA WebLogic Application Server has excellent support for developing internationalized portals in the form of a set of custom tags that can be incorporated within the portal pages. Portal technology is widely used and is definitely an excellent candidate for implementing internationalized Web applications.
This article will delve into a real-time application against the backdrop of a Web-based airline-booking engine that has internationalization requirements complemented by a content management system. The implementation approach is aligned with the first option described above, where a single set of JSP pages are developed that work with locale-dependent content. The presentation tier of the application was built using existing frameworks such as Struts and JSTL custom tags. Both the Struts framework and JSTL custom tags offer internationalization support by providing mechanisms that are built upon the standard Java internationalization classes such as Locale, Resource Bundles, etc. The article will discuss in detail the technicalities involved in extending these frameworks to internationalize the Web presentation by incorporating means to retrieve localized content dynamically from the underlying content management system.

The Fundamental Concepts
Before we delve much into the implementation details, it is worth browsing through some key concepts. Terms such as "character," "character sets," "character codes," "character encoding," and so on are often heard when people talk about internationalization.

A character is the smallest component of a written language that has a specific name and some semantic value. Each character can have more than one graphical representation. For example, character "A" can be graphically represented as "A," "A," or "A." Independent of the graphical representation, the meaning of the character remains the same. Each such graphical representation is called as a glyph. A set of glyphs is called a font. So a character will have a different glyph in different fonts. A character set comprises of a group of related characters that can be used for some purpose. All the characters on an "English" key board can be grouped into a character set because they provide ability to develop meaningful and informative documents in "English."

Computers do not understand characters automatically but rather need a coded set of characters to process the data. In a coded character set, each character is assigned with an integer value commonly referred to as code point. American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a good example of a coded character set. ASCII is a small coded character set that comprises 127 characters. There are other coded character sets such as ISO-8859-1 and Unicode. Essentially, the code point of a character in the coded character set is used to identify the right glyph to display on the computer screen.

Character set encoding is yet another term that is widely used. A character set encoding scheme is a set of rules for mapping byte sequences (aka octets) to character code values and vice versa. Coded character sets such as ISO-8859-1, UTF-8, and UTF-16 have their own encoding schemes. For example, different schemes encode the character "ß" into byte sequences as shown in Table 1.

The terms "coded character set" and "coded character set encoding" have different meanings and should not be used interchangeably. To avoid this confusion, the short name "charset" is usually used to represent coded character set encoding. Table 2 shows some of the charsets that support different languages.

Table 2 leads to a big question: what character set should be used to support multiple different languages in an internationalized application? For example, the ISO-8859-1 character set will not support Chinese characters that are actually supported by the GB2312 character set. Obviously, there should be a common character set that can encode all of the characters in different languages of the world. Unicode is one such coded character set that promises to provide a unique code point for every character in every language. Java uses Unicode to encode characters. JRE 1.4 supports Unicode 3.0. Unicode is a large character set composed of almost 65,000 characters covering almost all world languages. Unicode encodes characters in 2 bytes, i.e., Unicode is 16-bit encoding with a range of code points from U+0000 to U+FFFF, represented in Unicode hexadecimals.

There is one more character set, known as the Universal Character Set (UCS), which can support all language characters and symbols. However, UCS uses a 31-bit encoding scheme that is not supported by most of the computer applications, whereas 16-bit encoding is widely supported. To address this issue, new transformed encoding schemes have been created based on Unicode and UCS. One of them is UTF-8 (UCS Transformation Format). UTF-8 transforms UCS characters into 1, 2, 3, or 4 byte encodings. UTF-8 preserves ASCII codes and encodes an ASCII character as a single byte. In essence, UTF-8 uses multi-byte encoding to represent characters in 1-4 bytes (octets).

The UTF-8 support for a wide range of characters and the efficient way of encoding makes it the de facto character set that should be used for displaying multiple languages. The application described in this article uses UTF-8 everywhere there is a need to encode content in different languages.

The Internationalization Requirements for the Example Application
The application described in the article is a Web-based airline-booking engine that has points of sale (POS) in different countries. The requirement was to support a number of POS countries (24 all together) such as the US, Germany, the UK, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Canada, China, Uruguay, etc., with room to expand to other countries of the world. For each POS country, the requirement was to provide a list of preconfigured languages specific to each POS in such a way that a user could select a particular language from the list in order to display content in that language. The requirement was to support a number of languages (10 all together) such as English, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, etc., with room to accommodate any other language in the future. By default, when a user lands on the application in a particular POS country, the content is expected to be displayed in the native language of that POS country.

More Stories By Murali Kashaboina

Murali Kashaboina leads Enterprise Architecture at United Airlines, Inc. He has 15+ years of enterprise software development experience utilizing a broad range of technologies, including JEE, CORBA, Tuxedo, and Web services. Murali previously published articles in WLDJ and SilverStream Developer Center. He has master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton, Ohio.

More Stories By Bin Liu

Bin Liu is a lead software engineer at United Airlines. Bin has more than seven years of experience developing distributed applications using J2EE technologies, WebLogic, Tuxedo, C++, and Web services. Bin has previously published articles in WLDJ.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Raj Kumar Kundu 06/04/08 10:52:33 PM EDT

This content is very useful for all those people who are thinking about internationalization of J2EE/ Web Based applications. It explains and points out the areas which should be rather can be considered for this activity. This can help people start thinking in right direction.
But this can be made extremely useful by providing some example files (Resource Bundle related AppResource files and the java files which are using those property files) or snaps of the java codes.

Henry 10/23/07 08:34:21 PM EDT

Is database-centric internationalization with JSF similar with this article?

@ThingsExpo Stories
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
With privacy often voiced as the primary concern when using cloud based services, SyncriBox was designed to ensure that the software remains completely under the customer's control. Having both the source and destination files remain under the user?s control, there are no privacy or security issues. Since files are synchronized using Syncrify Server, no third party ever sees these files.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
delaPlex is a global technology and software development solutions and consulting provider, deeply committed to helping companies drive growth, revenue and marketplace value. Since 2008, delaPlex's objective has been to be a trusted advisor to its clients. By redefining the outsourcing industry's business model, the innovative delaPlex Agile Business Framework brings an unmatched alliance of industry experts, across industries and functional skillsets, to clients anywhere around the world.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...