Welcome!

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Add Localization to Your Web Site

Adapting an application to a specific locale

Welcome to another installment of Extending ColdFusion. In this edition, we are going to look at one of the ways you can add localization to your Web site. What do we mean by localization? Localization or L10N (L10N is an abbreviation for the 10 letters between the "L" and "N" in localization) describes the process of adapting an application to a specific locale.

You can think of L10N as the process of applying a locale or language "skin" to an application. That can mean many things like date, currency, and number formatting; calendars; text direction, and so on. Typically localization is done after a process called internationalization. Internationalization or I18N (I18N is an abbreviation for the 18 letters between the "I" and "N" in internationalization) is the design and development of an application so that it functions in at least two locales. You can think of I18N as making an application language or locale neutral.

In this article we are going to focus on one aspect of localization, and that is the site user interface and static text. In a later edition we will talk about how dynamic content can be localized. We are going to talk specifically to the concept of "resource bundles." These are files that contain a set of translations. For example, here is a representation of a simple English resource bundle:

Cancel=Cancel
Save=Save

Not very exciting, but the basic concept here is that we have a list of keys (the strings on the left side of the equal signs) and values (the strings on the right side). This becomes clearer when we look at the French version of the bundle:

Cancel=Annuler
Save= Enregistrer

As you can see, we have the exact same keys, but the strings on the right-hand side, the actual values, are the French versions. Extending this a bit farther, you can use a larger set of keys and values, one key for each piece of text on your Web site. To add support for a new language, you simply create a new resource bundle and do the translations. You should understand that managing the translation of resource bundles can become quite a task for anything complicated. One of the more popular tools for this task is IBM's Java-based rbManager, which you can download from http://oss.software.ibm.com/icu4j/demo_tools/RBManager.html.

One note about resource bundles: we use a Java object, java.util.PropertyResourceBundle, to handle parsing in the resouce bundle. This Java object requires that the resource bundle files be encoded using escaped ASCII. For example, here is the Thai version of "Cancel": \u0E22\u0E01\u0E40\ u0E25\u0E34\u0E0. Besides the rbManager tool mentioned above, Sun provides a command-line tool, native2ascii, that handles the creation of properly escaped Unicode text. This program is included in the "bin" directory of standard Java installs. You can find documentation for it at: http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.1/docs/tooldocs/windows/native2ascii.html.

How do we use this in ColdFusion? Listing 1 demonstrates a simple CFC that we will use to load resource bundles and display them on our Web site. Let's begin by looking at the getResourceBundle method. This method will take a resource bundle and return a structure of keys and values. The method takes two arguments. The first argument is the file name of the resource bundle. (We actually do some magic with this argument, which I will go into a bit later.) The second argument is optional, and represents the locale. Java uses a different format for locales than ColdFusion. Notice how the default is "en_US." In CFML, this is the same as English (US).

After initializing our arguments, we then have a set of var statements. Do not forget that it is vital to var scope any variable created with a CFC method. As I said above, we are going to do some magic with the resource bundle file name. If the file doesn't exist as passed, we check to see if a locale version exists. What do we mean by that? Imagine you have a set of resource bundles in your c:\projectX\resources\text folder. Each one is named "language_en_US.properties", where the only part of the name that changes is the locale version. In other words, the French version would be "language_fr_FR.properties." The getResourceBundle method allows us to simply pass in "c:\projectX\resources\text\language.properties" as the file name. When it discovers that the file does not exist, it will automatically try to load "c:\projectX\resource\text\language_en_US.properties". This is because the rbLocale argument defaults to en_US; to load the French version you would simply pass in fr_FR.

Once the method finds the file (it will throw an error if it cannot), we then use a set of Java objects we created in the constructor area of the CFC:

<cfscript>
variables.rB = createObject("java", "java.util.PropertyResourceBundle");
variables.fis = CreateObject("java", "java.io.FileInputStream");
</cfscript>

These objects then enable getResourceBundle method to load the properties file:

variables.fis.init(arguments.rbFile);

and then initialize the PropertyResourceBundle object:

variables.rB.init(variables.fis);

Once we have done that, we can use another method, getKeys(), to get the keys of the resource bundle. We then simply loop over our keys and create a structure of the values. Once we have the structure we return it.

So, let's take a quick look at how this could be used on a sample page. Listing 2 contains a simple form, in this case, one with just a submit and cancel button. However, the labels for these buttons need to be localized. To get the correct strings, we use <cfinvoke> to get the resource bundle from a property file, and to specifically grab the fr_FR version. We can then use this returned structure to populate the values of our buttons. As you can see from the code, switching to English would be a trivial change.

Let's take a look at another method in the CFC, loadResourceBundle. This is an extremely short method. All it does is take a file and an optional locale. It calls the getResourceBundle method we described earlier, and then stores it in the CFC's local variable scope. This allows us to create an instance of the CFC and have it parse the resource bundle once.

Finally, the method getResource allows us to grab one particular string from the structure. Why would you use this when you could getResourceBundle? This method will slightly modify the result when debugMode is detected. Instead of returning just the string, it will actually return the string wrapped in * characters. Visually, this makes it easy to see which parts of your page are localized and which are not. This method will also "swallow" any errors that involve missing resources, so if you try to retrieve a resource for the French locale that doesn't exist, you will get a blank string. (This may or may not be preferable. What's nice is that you can modify the CFC to handle it differently. You may want it to retrieve the en_US version if one doesn't exist for the fr_FR version. You could also have it optionally log a warning, or e-mail a localization team.)

One more example before we end. In the code in Listing 2, we had a hard-coded locale. Normally you probably want your user to select a locale. You may think it's a good idea to store the resource bundle in the user's session scope. However, this means that every user in locale N will have a copy of the bundle, which isn't efficient. Listing 3 shows a modified version of Listing 2. This time we allow the user to select a locale. We store the user's preference, but keep the bundles stored in the application scope.

The author wishes to give special thanks to Paul Hastings, who he says is, without a doubt, the localization/internationalization master, and was a big help in writing this article. His blog can be found at http://cfg11n.blogspot.com. (Watch for a series by Paul in future issues of CFDJ.)

More Stories By Ray Camden

A longtime ColdFusion user, Raymond is a co-author of the "Mastering ColdFusion" series published by Sybex Inc, as well as the lead author for the ColdFusion MX Developer's Handbook. He also presents at numerous conferences and contributes to online webzines. He and Rob Brooks-Bilson created and run the Common Function Library Project (www.cflib.org), an open source repository of ColdFusion UDFs. Raymond has helped form three ColdFusion User Groups and is the manager of the Acadiana MMUG.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...