W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-international@w3.org > October to December 2001

Re: Euro mess (Was: valid locales ---> was bilingual websites

From: <David_Possin@i2.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 13:16:42 -0600
To: "Tex Texin" <texin@progress.com>
Cc: cbrown@xnetinc.com, www-international@w3.org, www-international-request@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFE3AFD3BA.C4E86229-ON86256AFD.0067882F@i2.com>
I would propose to open a discussion forum for locales in the yahoo.groups 
like many other globalization people have done for other issues. It will 
be tough keeping up to date with all the threads starting to pop up, and 
all are extremely important to me and my job. Here are the issues I have 
been trying to monitor and even reply to, adding my 2 cents:

Locale definition - what is a locale?
Locale identification - how many parameters are needed for a default 
minimal locale description?
Language identification - how can we identify languages that are not 
included in the ISO 639 language group standard? (Current locale 
identifiers use the 2-letter code, not the 3-letter code)
Time zones - There is no standard, the tz database is as close as I can 
get to a standard and it is not officially tied to a locale. This only 
touches the need for a standard global time & date display.
Currencies - Locales have only one currency tied to them, and European 
locales still all have their national currencies implied.
Euro - The big problem is not the display, but how to use it. The EC has 
strict requirements on how to do currency triangulation with the euro. We 
discovered that rounding problems popped up everywhere, especially when 
using euro precision for calculation and had to display the value in a 
currency without decimals. It would be a dream to have this in ICU.
Even when the euro becomes standard for a country, older transactions will 
still have to be working with old currencies and/or triangulation. We 
can't just convert them.

This only lists what has been mentioned in the last few days, there is 
much more to be mentioned. I am trying to make PMs, Devs, QA, etc globally 
aware here, but it is very hard to get official requirements written up 
when there are no standards I can show as reference. 

And my biggest proposal is to break the tie between language and country 
when selecting a locale.


"Tex Texin" <texin@progress.com>
Sent by: www-international-request@w3.org
11/07/01 12:15 PM

        To:     "Carl W. Brown" <cbrown@xnetinc.com>
        cc:     www-international@w3.org
        Subject:        Re: Euro mess (Was: valid locales ---> was  bilingual websites


I hope the locales issue doesn't fan out into thousands of other
threads, I won't be able to track them.

With respect to the Euro, there are several different issues.

a) Of course the Euro is important and having proper support for the
Euro is required.

b) ISO 8859-15 does not seem to be getting much adoption, which is a
good thing. Since 8859-15 and 8859-1 are incompatible, and if you adopt
8859-15 you likely still need to interchange text with users of 8859-1,
(as they both support the same languages more or less), the world would
be a very difficult if there was a lot of adoption of -15.

Anyone considering -15, should instead be considering Unicode.

And there are other alternatives if the only requirement is to support
the Euro character and continue with a single byte codepage.
Spelling out "Eur" or "Euro" is acceptable if there is space. And
inventing mechanisms (e.g. escape sequences, or other specialized
encodings) to print the Euro symbol are also possible.

c) The issue relative to locales, is there is no standard handling for
the Euro. So my understanding is some software will change the currency
of their European locales from native monetary units to Euro on Jan. 1.
This may be useful for some, but will likely break many applications as

Others will create new locales specific to the Euro and/or specific to
the old native currency. But which nomenclature you use when you are
integrating software with different technologies and different locale
naming conventions is a mystery to me.

So now if I say fr_fr I do not know which currency I get and it may
change from Dec 31 2001 to Jan 1 2002.
If I use an application that integrates technologies with different
rules for locales, it could get very messy.

I presume reading monetary data created before 2002 may also be
interpreted differently after 2002.

And minor upgrades of software may in fact invoke these locale changes,
so what should be a minor patch may in fact be a large change to
monetary handling.

d) I don't know why there isn't more of an outcry over this. Maybe there
is a reason the problems I cite in (c) won't happen that I don't
understand. (I am by no means an expert on the subject. Most of my own
software has explicit regional settings and doesn't follow the locale
model.) It will be interesting to know what people find if they change
their system clock to 2002 and do some application testing.


"Carl W. Brown" wrote:
> Tex,
> I wonder why no one seems to care about the Euro?  Are sites going to
> continue to use iso-5589-1?  How many browsers and systems support
> iso-5589-15?
> Carl
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: www-international-request@w3.org
> > [mailto:www-international-request@w3.org]On Behalf Of Tex Texin
> > Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2001 7:42 PM
> > To: Martin Duerst
> > Cc: David_Possin@i2.com; Karl Ove Hufthammer; www-international@w3.org
> > Subject: Re: valid locales ---> was Re: bilingual websites
> >
> >
> > Martin,
> >
> > You mean I can't just grouse and take potshots from the sidelines? ;-)
> >
> > Well, I have not seen an alternative proposed and I don't have one at
> > the ready, but I don't mind taking a shot at improving the current
> > situation. However, I am crunching now thru the end of the year, so I
> > will give it a go in the new year.
> > In the meantime, I would be happy to collect both suggestions for
> > requirements and suggestions for solutions on this list or privately.
> >
> > The new year should be interesting, as the switch to the new Euro
> > currency will demonstrate some of the chaos with locales.
> >
> > tex
> >
> > Martin Duerst wrote:
> > >
> > > Tex - Could you write up (short), or point to, any proposal
> > > for how to do better than currently?
> > >
> > > Regards,  Martin.
> > >
> > > At 14:57 01/10/31 -0500, Tex Texin wrote:
> > > >David,
> > > >
> > > >FWIW, I thoroughly agree that locales as we currently define and
> > > >implement them, do not work.
> > > >As a naming convention it is inadequate, and when you select a
> > name, you
> > > >are not sure what behavior you will get.
> > > >
> > > >I have mentioned this before, and the response is always "Yes, it's
> > > >broken, but it is the best we have at the moment.".
> > > >
> > > >It is rather unfortunate that we have this methodology therefore, 
> > > >that it is accepted, since it won't be fixed as long as this 
> > > >continues.
> > > >
> > > >tex
> > > >
> > > >--
> > > >-------------------------------------------------------------
> > > >Tex Texin                    Director, International Business
> > > >mailto:Texin@Progress.com    Tel: +1-781-280-4271
> > > >the Progress Company         Fax: +1-781-280-4655
> > > >-------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > --
> > -------------------------------------------------------------
> > Tex Texin                    Director, International Business
> > mailto:Texin@Progress.com    Tel: +1-781-280-4271
> > the Progress Company         Fax: +1-781-280-4655
> > -------------------------------------------------------------
> >

Tex Texin                    Director, International Business
mailto:Texin@Progress.com    Tel: +1-781-280-4271
the Progress Company         Fax: +1-781-280-4655
Received on Wednesday, 7 November 2001 14:22:29 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 22:40:45 UTC