web development

Creating a multilingual website with Smarty

Some time ago I was required to adapt a bespoke website application (which I had originally written) so it not only supported multiple languages but also multiple character sets. The website, MakingContact.org, is a on-line community for families with disabled children run by the charity Contact a Family. It required "support" for four languages in addition the English it was currently in: Somali, Arabic, Farsi and Simplified Chinese. Yes, I know the latter is not actually a language but for these purposes the cap fitted.

I decided to do it using Smarty, the PHP-based templating engine. Whilst it was possible that a CMS or similar could do the job now, at the time I could find none which supported multiple character sets in the way I required. I've been meaning to write the process down for some time so here's how I did it.

Why did Javascript/AJAX mop the floor with Java, Flash and Silverlight? Or, why open standards eventually win

It's not always true that the neatest, most advanced technology ends up winning most of the market share. There are other reasons which get in the way. Sometimes, the less advanced solutions end up winning -- and evolve in order to become more solid and established. An example of this is Javascript/AJAX, which has conquered most of the web-based client programming -- despite the fact that there were competing technologies which could (and maybe should) have easily won, purely based on technical merits. How did that happen?

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