Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PDE Does Cairo

A Right-to-Left Crisis

Every year around May, when we think we are almost done with development, multi-language testing starts and we get bombarded with Bidi bugs. Bidi bugs are inherently difficult to address, mainly because very few developers can read/write Arabic or Hebrew.

Do Arabic developers really use the Arabic version of Eclipse for Java/plug-in development or do they prefer the English one? Is it worth the investment to spend time and resources on translating components like PDE and JDT into other languages?

I am a native Arabic speaker. Even though I am not necessarily a poet, I can read and write the language pretty well. However, I am not convinced at all that an Arabic IDE is necessarily useful for Arabic developers. After all, the Eclipse javadoc is entirely in English and does not get translated, the plugin.dtd tells you that you should only use the US-ASCII character set for plug-in IDs, etc.

Here is circumstancial evidence that proves my claim . It is a screenshot from a bug reported on Eclipse 3.3:
On the Target Platform preference page, arguably the most popular preference page for plug-in developers, the parenthesis for each of the labels in the tree are misaligned. If the Arabic version Eclipse is used by Arabic Eclipse developers, how did this problem go unnoticed since Eclipse 1.0?

So here is my theory: "While it makes perfect sense to translate, for example, a banking Eclipse-based RCP application into other languages. I am not so sure translating an IDE is all that useful."

Because I was in a Bidi kind of mood, I thought it would be good to take a trip to Egypt -- as an Eclipse envoy to the middle East, if you may. So I went.

A Nile view

While in Cairo, I stayed in the lap of luxury in a high-rise condo with a Nile view to the East. The picture is taken early in the morning from my balcony. The bridge shown is the University Bridge.

To the Pyramids, To the Pyramids
My second day there, we went on a two-hour camel ride to the pyramids. To my surprise, there were nine pyramids, the three big ones I knew about and six much smaller, less photographed ones.

Cairo in June is very humid and the humidity was not very kind to my hair or my nephew's.

Riding a camel is substantially more difficult than riding an elephant, particularly as the camel stands up and sits down. But it is so much fun once you get the hang of it. The camel also goes into a nice jogging pace, which was exhilirating.

Finally, this is the gentleman whose job was to make sure the camel does not kill me ;) The camels love the camera...

Back to Reality

Cairo was the last stop in the PDE tour. I flew home on Lufthansa (in support of Peter's employer). It was good to be back in my house. Next day, I had to mow the lawn which had grown to 5 feet after a two-week absence.

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