6.1 Use a "Scaling" or "Test Card" Language
A useful technique in the development of standards and practices for multilingual applications development, is the use of a "scaling" or "test card" language.
To do this, you just invent a "new" language.
The recommended identifier is LLL and the description should be something like "Scaling / Testcard Language".
The LLL language sets the standards and scaling sizes for all other languages.
For example, when you put a new field in the dictionary you would also specify its description, label and column headings in the "LLL" language as rows of "LLLLLLLLL"s or "XXXXXXXXXX"s.
This information establishes the application designer's scaling limits for the maximum lengths of descriptions, labels and column headings.
All other language's details, whether filled in now or later, must conform to the scaling limits established by the designer in the scaling or test card language.
It may also be useful to set up the environment for application developers so that they actually do all initial development in the scaling language.
This may have several benefits for the developers:
- They are continually reminded that they are working on a multilingual application system.
- They are effectively prevented from performing development in just one specific language, helping to stop any natural bias towards a specific language from being reflected in their work. They develop and perform basic functional and layout tests in the scaling language. Only after this work is complete do they elect to see the application running in a "real" language or languages.
- They continually see the scaling limits set by the designer when laying out screen panels and reports. This again helps to prevent any natural language bias creeping into their work and aids in understanding why screen panels and reports have been laid out in a possibly foreign manner.