Software maker Uniscape Inc. has developed a new application aimed at helping software companies ready their products for a global market.
Global Checker is designed to scan software code looking for potential problems that arise when software created in the United States is used overseas.
It's a bigger problem than some may think, said Uniscape President Alex Pressman.
"There's about 200 things you're looking for when you try to globalize the code," he said. "And there are variations between Unix, NT, and other OS."
For instance, one problem that pops up frequently is the length of Asian characters. While U.S. English ASCII characters normally take up one byte of memory, Asian characters commonly use two bytes. If the software doesn't take that into account, the data files can be misread or entirely corrupted, Pressman said.
But even languages that use the same Roman alphabet as American English may run into problems, if they use other characters such as the tilde.
"In U.S. ASCII, some of the European characters never existed, and obviously the 36,000 or so Japanese or Korean characters never existed," Pressman said. "The source code needs to compare characters to another and it needs to know what they are."
The basic version of Global Checker, priced at $400, runs through the software and spots problem areas. For $650, a more advanced version will suggest fixes. And for $1,500, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company includes copies of its enterprise that include Global C library, which allows developers to create products that work in multiple languages in multiple operating systems.