Internationalisation programmation

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Why

The common I18N method using resource strings requires a development environment and programming skills to make or improve translations.

For Gestinux, we have used another system.

Translation are read by the software from mere text files (inifile like) and read when forms are loaded. This is quick enough.

This way, it is possible to define or modify translations directly when running the application, without developing tools and skills. There is no need to recompile anything to add a new language, or to modify an existing language.

GTranslator is an utility integrated in the application, to make and check translations easily.

It is also possible to toggle between 2 languages at runtime, to check a new translation.

How it works ?

Language file

Translation are stored in text files, referred as language files.

There are two language files for each language, and they are merged at startup in a single Inifile in memory.

To locate, or create or improve a translation, see this page.

Simple controls

For each control of Gestinux_util, the translation is searched in the language file :

The section is the Form name (the form class name in version under development). The parameter name is the component name, followed by a dot and the property name to translate. The parameter value is the translation

If the file or the parameter is not found, the design properties are used.


E.g :

[FormConnection]
LabelUsername.Caption=Username
EditUsername.Hint=Enter your username
BtnOk.caption=Connect
BtnOk.Hint=Click here to connect
MenuItemQuit.Caption=Exit

GGrid and GDbGrid

For each column, indexed by its position, we can define the title. The Columns property must be defined, and all columns must be added, to allow translations (and other features).

E.g :

GridEmployees.Name.Title=Name
GridEmployees.Address.Title=Address
GridEmployees.City.Title=City

Messages

MessageDlg and ShowMessage procedures must not be used, since they don't use the same translation system.

Messages are identified by keywords not used for control's translations. They are stored in the form section, along with other control's translations.

Parameters are allowed.

Example :

UsernameConnectError=%0:s in not a valid username, retry.

To display a translated message, use only one of these functions member of TGForm :

AbortMessage ( 'UsernameConnectError', [EditUsername.Text] );
ErrorMessage ( 'UsernameConnectError', [EditUsername.Text] );
ConfirmationMessage ( 'UsernameConnectError', [EditUsername.Text] );
InformationMessage ( 'UsernameConnectError', [EditUsername.Text] );

The message form displays an Help button, which opens by default the wiki page named after the HelpUrl property of the form. There is also a button to copy the message in the clipboard, to paste it somewhere else.

In some special cases, a more general procedure can be used :

DisplayMessage ( ParentForm, Section, MessageId, [parameter-1, ..., parameter_n], Severity, WikiPage );

Other strings

Other parameters can be present in the language file, for special usages. Their translations can be queried at any time by :

TranslateText( Section, Key, Default );

or

TranslateMessage ( Section, Key, [parameter_1, ... parameter_n] );

When these procedures are used, and to enable dynamic translation (triggered by F4 key), a Translate method must generally be added in the form, overriding the ancestor, and calling the TranslateText or TranslateMessage for the new language.

Example :

procedure TFormAccountingEntries.DisplayNotSelected;
begin
if NumberSelected = 0 then
  LabelNotAllSelected.Caption := 
else
  LabelNotAllSelected.Caption :=
     Format(TranslateText(Name, 'NotAllRecordsSelected'), [MaxRecordsSelected]);
end;

procedure TFormAccountingEntries.Translate;
begin
  inherited Translate;
  DisplayNotSelected;
end;

How to make a translation

Use the translation utility, available for Linux and for Windows, which can read a reference language file, and fill another language file, detecting missing translations.