Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Some quick tips to reduce internationalization nightmares


By Douglas Robinson

Running an international store entirely in U.S. dollars is obviously something that is done every day and widely accepted. But what happens when international customers think that your dollars are Great British Pounds, suddenly making your products or services cost twice as much, or even Turkish Liras, around 1.5 million of which add up to only a single U.S. Dollar? I've seen it. I still have the nightmares.

So when a concerned customer pointed out to us that his server suddenly looked as if it was going to cost almost twice as much as our ad said it would, we checked it out. As we all should (and probably did) know, but forgot, whenever you have a number field, such as a calculated value coming from an online store, there are options for presentation.

One of these, of course, is currency. The default value for this field, however, is "User setting." This will translate into the local currency of choice and, thus, is obviously bad. But fixing it is simple. Selecting the field in question, select Edit -> Properties, then choosing Control (the second tab from the left).

There it is. Number format on the left, probably already reading currency, and then display formatting on the right. Switch to custom in the drop-down menu and then the bottom row becomes available, where you can set most any options you'd like, from more currency symbols than I knew existed to whether you want the symbol before or after the number, etc.

I still lock the doors at night, but I sleep a little easier knowing this has been fixed.

Another little issue we came across hosting companies from the far side of the world was that most people outside the U.S. don't want to use the month-date-year date system. So we rushed into the fray, searching for an answer.

Turns out there's a fantastically easy fix for this problem, and I'll show you two different ways to do it. The first is simply to fire up an editor -- but be sure your Domino server isn't running whenever you do this -- and then open up your Notes.ini file. From there, all you need to do is paste the line "DateOrder=DMY" as a new line anywhere in the file and save it.

The second, for those of you who are console junkies, is that you can open up the Domino Administrator, highlight the server in question, and select Server -> Server -> Secure Console and, after you authenticate with the server and get into the console itself, type "Set Configuration DateOrder=DMY". If you want to make extra sure it was successfully changed, type "Show Configuration DateOrder" If it comes out as DMY, you know you got it right.

Either way you choose, you need only restart Domino and you'll find that all dates have been reformatted to display date-first. And then the customer can smile, sip a cup of tea, and take an afternoon siesta.

Doug Robinson works as an Account Executive at Prominic.NET (see http://www.Prominic.NET) and can be reached at DRobinson@Prominic.NET.