Multi-language support: German User Interface added
As announced, after Italian other languages are following. This time is German time:
Visual SEO Studio with German user interface
Since the very first time I announced Visual SEO Studio user interface would support multiple languages, Jörg Barth offered to translate it to German. This requires quite an effort: when you translate a software, unless you are the developer you start translating "in the dark"; often you have no context about a short text usage, you do not see the effect in the UI straight away, sometime the text is an error message you have no clue where and when it would show up, and for text appearing in the user interface you have size constrains (and German is a very verbose language compared to English).
Nevertheless he did it iteratively with no fear. Not only that: in the meanwhile he gave me loads of suggestions and feedback. Before being an SEO the guy is a tough programmer, believe me he knows what he speaks and what it might imply in terms of development effort and performance overload, so his suggestions are always golden.
Thanks to his patience we also have come up with a translation process and a little tool to permit seeing the newly translated texts in the program without having to ping back to the programmer; it will ease translation for the next languages to come.
An important stability release
German language support apart, there are many other changes under the wood. The user interface layout has often been revisited, and there are several minor usability improvements and fixes.
I put a lot of effort fixing the most critical crashes reported by the users, now the software is much more robust. There still is one crash condition I've not being able to fix, it affected about 2.4% of the user base.
I take bugs very seriously and prioritize their fixes, but unless I found them by myself, I need user feedback to know them (crashes apart, for them I receive an automatic notification).
One concerning the choice of the correct character encoding when not provided by an HTTP header was luckily reported by Mariusz Kołacz with his Web Site Audit - 3 Free Tools review (in Polish).
I had only few hours to fix it in time for this release, but I did it. According to HTTP specs, when no character encoding is provided by the Content-Type HTTP header, ISO-8859-1 encoding (a.k.a. Latin-1) has to be meant as the default, and that's what Visual SEO Studio did.
Unfortunately in practice this turns out to be a poor choice: while two out of three times (according to a 2005 Google study, situation might have improved) the character set is not provided by the HTTP header, UTF-8 is nowadays the most diffused encoding. The correct solution is doing the way browsers do: attempting to read with one encoding, looking for an http-equiv="Content-Type" meta tag in the html (an interesting chicken-and-egg problem, as to be able to read html one must first choose an encoding) and if present and different, discard the result and decode the html stream again. Of course, many things can happen: the meta tag could not be there, it could be too deep in the html, it could be mismatching, having an incorrect value... not having the info in the HTTP header might lead to performance penalties.
Having a strict time constrain, I followed - at the moment - another route. I did some research and estimated that adopting the "UTF-8 as default" heuristic I would reduce the probability of choosing the wrong encoding from 50% to about 7%, a value destined to decrease in time with the steady adoption of UTF-8 worldwide.
Still not perfect, but much better. I suspect my most prominent competitors are doing the same.
Needless to say, not only I plan for the future to adopt a more correct solution (so for now I wouldn't call it a fix, just a workaround), all this deep-diving into specs has given me lots of ideas about future reports Visual SEO Studio could provide.
Conclusion, and What's Next
This version represents an important milestone for the German speaking market, and a more stable release for all the users.
It also receives several little improvements. For a detailed list of the changes, please refer to the full release notes.
Being this release mainly a maintenance release, the list of what's boiling down is pretty match the same as described with the previous release, with some little addition... after so much bug hunting, I'm looking forward to release some new features many of you will appreciate!
Is there any other feature you'd love to see prioritized in Visual SEO Studio?
Then launch Visual SEO Studio, select the menu entry "Help" -> "Send the author a Message", and let me know!
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