Designing for Internationalization
Web sites and Web Applications today, are very often exposed beyond the borders of your home country, and therefore users speak different languages, and has a different currency, date- and time formats etc. ASP.NET provides you with an entire namespace for handling things like this. That is the System.Globalization namespace, where you will find a lot of classes for handling your every day globalization tasks. I’m not going to cover anything in this namespace now, if you want to get your hands dirty take a look at this video: http://asp.net/learn/videos/video-40.aspx where you will see how to use local and global resources for your application.
Using a global resource file for a place to store display text on buttons, labels, validation controls etc. is fine. But if you have an e-commerce site, selling products in multiple regions with different languages, you need an extra level. That level is a way to globalize e.g. the name and description of your product. When a user changes language, the name and description of your “display product details page” should change accordingly.
For me, the ideal solution should not result in extra database columns like name_us, name_da, name_es. This would be a very static solution, as you would have to change your database whenever a new language is added to your application. Nor should it require extra tables, so you need to join like hell, when you need to select a product.
I’ve decided to store e.g. the Name values as XML in the database, and parse that XML into a Dictionary<string, string> property on my Product object, with the key of the Dictionary being the language code (en-US for US English). To me this seems to work just fine. My database design is not getting more complex, and I can get and set values quite easily.
The XML string that goes into my ProductName column in the database table, looks like this:
On my Product object, the Name property is a Dictionary: