Life at Eclipse

Musings on the Eclipse Foundation, the community and the ecosystem

Eclipse for the World

Perhaps it’s because of my recent trip to China, but it is becoming increasingly clear that internationalization is a very big deal for everyone in the software world. The ability to fully enable products and applications for double-byte and bi-directional languages is key.

Enter ICU4J. One look at the JDK to ICU comparison chart reveals why this library exists and is used by so many ISV’s out there today (e.g. Adobe, Apple, BEA, Cognos, Debian Linux, Gentoo Linux, IBM to name just a few).

I haven’t seen a lot of fanfare about this, but I consider including ICU4J in the Eclipse Platform for 3.2 and Callisto to be one of the biggest things going on right now in Eclipse. With Eclipse 3.2, developers are going to have a much more powerful tool for internationalizing their applications. With significantly better functionality than what is supported in the JDK. Now Java applications can be competitive those written in other programming languages in countries such as China, Japan and India. This is especially important for Eclipse and Eclipse RCP compete with Microsoft’s Vista release, as they are clearly focusing energy on ensuring strong internationalization capabilities.

But isn’t the JDK enough? Unfortunately not. From one of the documents from the ICU4J team:

“…as a platform, Java provides support for only a small set of locales (only 21 locales are officially supported, another 73 are shipped by not tested). By comparison, Windows XP SP2 supports 159 locales. In the set of 94 Java locales there is support for only one of the 22 official languages of India, one of the fastest growing economies in the world…”

ICU4J supports and ships twice as many (over 230) locales as Java. And there are other important features as well, such as support for better/faster sorting, enhanced date formats, better calendaring options and the like.

So keep an eye on development with ICU4J. It’s just recently been included in the platform builds. Next is switching the 3.2 stream over to use it, and then for the rest of the Callisto projects to make the jump. The changes are minimal, so hopefully the switch will be relatively quick and painless.

Written by Mike Milinkovich

February 3, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Foundation

4 Responses

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  1. I’m glad to see that someone’s taking an interest in internationalisation at Eclipse. It’s been clear for a while that the application is being used over the globe, both as an IDE and increasingly as a platform upon which other RCP applications are built.That being said, it’s also the case that not everyone agrees with you. I submitted a bug report bug 108668 to Eclipse regarding suggesting the default use of UTF-8 to support files for transfer and between international communities. Unfortunately, it got taken as an operating system issue (rather than a regional issue) and was quickly shot down.The labels in SWT widgets also suffer from the same fate; because UTF-8 encoding isn’t used to represent those, it’s nigh on impossible to ensure that accented letters come out correctly.There’s demand for Eclipse to be international. But whilst we’re still shackled by ASCII descendents, there’s still scope for other platforms to overtake.


    February 3, 2006 at 4:29 pm

  2. I read the bug. I certainly wouldn’t agree that it was “…quickly shot down…”. Or at least in my mind two months of reasoned debate is not my idea of what that means.The issues are complex, and the installed base massive. The changes you’re referring to will take time. Lots of time….

    Mike Milinkovich

    February 3, 2006 at 5:19 pm

  3. Perhaps if you’d read the bug closer, you would have got the timescale correct. Or at least in my mind, two weeks is not called two months.Selected highlights from: Bug activity for 108668Opened: 2005-09-02Closed WONTFIX: 2005-09-15Reopened: 2005-09-15 Reclosed: 2005-09-16That’s not two months, unless time moves differently for Eclipse. It’s barely two weeks, and some of that was waiting in a variety of reassigned queues for different people’s comments.The other report was a specific issue that was later opened as a different bug.So no, it’s not going to take time to do the switch, especially since that switch has been shot down as WONTFIX. Perhaps I’ll have to wait for the next best IDE to come out and throw decisions like this one away instead of hoping that Eclipse improves.I’ve written about this issue and others in my blog.


    February 5, 2006 at 3:33 pm

  4. Sorry for misreading the timeline. But I still believe that the discussions and the resolution were reasonable.

    Mike Milinkovich

    February 5, 2006 at 3:47 pm

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