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Chemputing a mari usque ad mare.

I recently had the experience of taking one of my prize Lotus spreadsheets across Canada. This turns out to be much more difficult than I would have ever expected. In Alberta, I learned that some people like spreadsheets other than Lotus. Symphony won't look at the graphs stored within Lotus; Excel presents another set of problems. I quickly concluded that Lotus must be the only product that is 100% compatibie with Lotus ... or is it? In Ontario, a smooth curve had a big dip in it after encountering a math coprocessor that rounded off a calculation somewhat differently than did the system in which it was written. In Qudbec, the spreadsheet hung up totally. Both of these occurred using Lotus ! What can you do if you or your spreadsheet plan to cross this country? We have covered one solution in a few past issues. You can compile the spreadsheet into a stand-alone package using Baler (see July/August '89, pp.8-9) or King Jaguar (see March'91, pp.4-6), but this technique does not work with spreadsheets that grow in size or copy sections from one place to another.

One-Two-Three and un-deux-trois Why was the French version of Lotus unable to cope with an English spreadsheet? The commands within the spreadsheet are used by the program in machine language and translated into English or French with equal ease for viewing. We asked Lotus for a French version to accompany our English version (see April'90, pp. 6- 7), and what followed was an interesting exercise guaranteed to drive you up the wall. In reading this text, recognize that it could be written in either language with the terms transposed.

One of the big features of this spreadsheet was a user-friendly menu system written using the Lotus macro language. Macros are a series of steps the program can be taught to follow. They are entered and saved as data labels, ie. a form of text. These are not automatically translated. The macros in this spreadsheet contain a variety of commands using both the standard Lotus menu and the wide variety of macro commands.

When using the Lotus menu, the commands are all in the same place, but the first letters changed to match the words in the two languages. IC for Copy in English is seen as /C for Champs (Range) in French ... /R is Recopie, but becomes /R for Range in English. /F changes from File to Feuille; you /FR (File, Retrieve) with /TC Transfert Charge). Just when you've had enough, and try to Quit or Quitte, it won't let you go with a Yes; it needs a Oui. When you enter commands manually, you quickly see the difference and tend to either manage or climb the wall. When the commands are embedded into macros, Lotus tries to work with what it gets and inevitably comes to a halt with a beep and error' flashing.

A menu is built around the various commands in the macro language, starting with [menucall xxx], where xxx is the location of the menu. In French the command becomes (appelmenu xxx). (up), (down], (right] and (left) became (haut), (bas), (droite) and (gauche). In either language, they could also be shortened to the first letter, eg. (r) or [d). I was disappointed with (windowson/ off in English becoming (fenetreon/off) in French; I thought the on/off should have also have a French equivalent. There is a complete set of parallel commands in both languages. It took about an hour to revise the menu system macros into French. This produced the ultimate in linguistic cooperation: a spreadsheet with an English menu system operating from French commands. By saving the macro region as two separate spreadsheets: ENGLISH.WKI and FRENCH.WKI, it was possible to move the cursor to the named range MACRO', which is the start of the menu system and, using /FC (File, Combine) or /TA (Transfert, Associe), copy the correct language commands into the spreadsheet; thereby, allowing it to operate in either language.

The French version of Lotus also included a French version of Allways. It operated in an identical fashion to the English version reviewed earlier (see May'90, p. 4). Our English version of Lotus has been used to test a number of add-ins over the last few years. These were fully accepted by the French version, but retained their English identity. Although Lotus originated in English, the French version did not in any way look like an afterthought. The documentation was printed with the same quality as the English and the text followed the same layout. An important feature of Annexe H La fonction bilingue is a comparison of the French and English menus and macros. The English manual does not supply the same courtesy. If there is any complaint, the English version has dropped the pressboard box and the French retained it. The French manuals are few millimetres smaller than the English, preventing both from standing side-by-side in the same box. If you operate solely in English or French and keep to simple spreadsheets, you can get by with the one in the language of your choice. As soon as you add macros to automate the spreadsheet and allow it to travel, you must be prepared for differences. The obvious solution for the serious user is to have one of each.
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Title Annotation:comparing Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet software's English and French versions
Author:Silbert, Marvin
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:Donald B. Robinson, FCIC: educator and entrepeneur.
Next Article:What faces the Canadian pharmaceutical industry?

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