Concerns with translating Access 2003 application into Japanese?

JayInPA used Ask the Experts™

A client has asked me to look into the feasibility of translating an application I wrote in Access 2003 into Japanese (it's US English right now). Obviously, I wouldn't be doing any of the translation itself, but will be replacing all of the table contents, interface elements (button text, labels, etc.), and report contents with corresponding Japanese text.

I guess I need some help figuring out how to scope this change and whether it is even possible to do this in Access. I would appreciate any guidance on:
1. What configuration issues there might be within Access itself in moving to Japanese
2. Other concerns I should be aware of for this project

Much appreciated...

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To translate an Access interface requires many changes in many places. First of all, it is important to maintain an "internal application language", namely English, for all system elements: table and field names, object names, code including variable names and comments, etc.

You will be translating the interface only.

For Tables and Queries, use the Caption property to translate fields; if the interface is well constructed, you will not need to modify the tables at all.

If system tables are used in the interface, for example as source for combo boxes, the data needs to be translated.

Form and Report controls need translation in:

* Label Captions
* Form Captions (i.e. form name)
* Format properties (e.g. dates if you use custom date formats instead of 'General Date', 'General Number', etc.)
* Validation Text
* Control Tool Tips
* Descriptions

In your code, you probably generate various messages. It is best to create a new table with all the needed messages, and use a lookup function to get the message in the correct language when needed. Translating the messages directly in the code poses two problems: 1) the maintenance becomes very difficult because you need to re-translate for every version and 2) VB source code doesn't support Unicode -- data in tables does.

If the application uses custom menus and traps all error messages, you can distribute an English run-time, but you will need to translate the menus. If not, you might want to consider distributing a Japanese run-time as well.

Note that a mixed English-Japanese interface is perfectly acceptable in most cases. This means that English menus, button captions, and messages might be tolerable; only the field captions, tool tips and reports need to be fully translated.

Final warning: do not underestimate the workload, even if you are a Japanese speaker yourself. Many tiny problems will surface (layout when captions and text change size, font substitutions, printer issues, etc.) And do not underestimate the load on maintenance. In the long run, it's best to create a multi-lingual interface (at run-time or design time) rather than to translate one version.


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