International Features

Office provides a host of international capabilities. A complete list of features that have been specifically created or modified for international users is not practical in this space, but some examples include proofing capabilities, support for Asian-language input, sorting support, date and currency formats, support for input/output (I/O) of text files and of Web pages in any encoding, and application-specific features for certain markets.

Proofing in over 40 Languages

Office applications provide multiple spelling-checker engines. They also offer considerable assistance to the international user through a grammar checker, thesaurus, hyphenation options, and bilingual translation dictionaries.

Support for Asian-Language Input

Office applications, especially Word, have always had rich support for features associated with Input Method Editors (IMEs), the components that allow the user to enter the thousands of different characters used in East Asian languages with a standard 101-key keyboard. These features include:

  • Modeless input. A method of entering East Asian language input with an IME. In contrast with modal input, modeless input allows you to easily and seamlessly switch back and forth between the composition mode and the direct mode (the document itself). You can easily correct, navigate, and make input to the general document, whereas with modal input the rest of the document is temporarily unavailable as long as you are in composition mode.
  • Reconversion of errors. A feature that allows you to correct inad-vertent input-conversion errors. For example, the word "kaeru" in Japanese means both "frog" and "go home." If the IME picked the wrong one-and you didn't notice until much later-you can recon-vert the word by right-clicking it (or selecting it), and then using the Convert key on Japanese keyboards. You can also use the Reconvert command in Office applications or the IME toolbar.
  • Mode biasing. Incorporation of logic that biases the method used for input (mode) toward the type of input that is expected. For example, the name field on a Contacts dialog box will have information telling the input method expected for people's names. With this information, the input method biases toward those results and thus provides more accurate input.

These features extend the capabilities of the IMEs to make input of East Asian text easier. (For more general information on IMEs, see Chapter 5, "Text Input, Output, and Display.")

Support for Sorting in a Wide Array of Languages

Collation or sort order, which is the way characters or ideographs are sorted, varies among different languages, countries, and regions. Office handles this task automatically.

Whenever sorting is needed-whether you are creating Access databases or lists in Excel-Office uses the correct sort order.

It is important to note that the meaning of "correct sort order" can change between contexts, which is why each Office application handles collation settings differently. Outlook uses the collation settings of the operating system to determine how to handle sorted lists of contacts. Excel uses the default user locale to determine sort order. Access uses the sort order of a particular database to determine how to return ordered data (a setting that can be changed during the database Compact operation). Word, on the other hand, supports marking specific text in a document as being part of a different language, and thus if you choose to sort data in a table, it can rely on this particular setting rather than on the default setting. (For more information on sort order, see Chapter 4, "Locale and Cultural Awareness." )

Proper Date and Currency Formats

Just as sort order differs from one language, country, or region to another, so do date and currency formats. Once again, Office uses the correct format based on the application and the particular context at hand. For example, the date format in an Excel spreadsheet will follow the preferences indicated in Regional And Language Options within Control Panel, by default. Likewise, the choice of a currency symbol in Regional and Language Options will affect the way that newly added currency fields are formatted in an Access table that is created. Furthermore, applications like Access do not blindly apply the settings from Regional And Language Options in a way that would change the meaning of existing data; because of this, existing data in a table will keep its original currency format, so that $2.00 does not suddenly appear to be 2.00 or 2.00. (For more information on date and currency formats, see Chapter 4.)

Support for I/O of Text Files and of Web Pages in Any Encoding

This support includes many types of Unicode, local code pages, standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), national standards, and so on.

Application-Specific Features for Certain Markets

Within the Office product suite, individual applications provide their own international features geared toward particular markets. These features are too numerous to list here, but the following sampling gives you a good idea of these individual applications' versatility. Application-specific features include:

  • A table-drawing tool, which Word pioneered to make creation of complex tables easier. In many Asian countries, typical documents are laid out as forms, with all the content contained in boxes. The table-drawing tool, which is now in Excel and PowerPoint, provides an easy way to create tables with odd shapes.
  • Special text layout for Asian languages, such as phonetic guides, horizontal text in vertical flow, and inline annotations within Word, Publisher, and PowerPoint.
  • Vertical text for Asian languages in many Office applications such as Word, Publisher, and PowerPoint. Bidirectional text support in all applications in the Office suite.
  • Locale-sensitive presentation templates in PowerPoint.
  • Proper local address formats and parsing in Outlook.

You have seen some of the international features that Office provides. By adhering to some basic international guidelines, you can take full advantage of all these capabilities in order to make your application world-ready.

Microsoft Corporation - Developing International Software
Developing International Software
ISBN: 0735615837
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 198

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