Q

Managing multiple languages for a single document

This may be a simple question. So far we have been using third-party tools for OMS solutions. Now, we are planning to use Smart Forms in R/3 4.6C.

How do we manage multiple languages for a single document say, an invoice using one layout set in Smart Forms?

I would like to know the effective/advantageous approach because we need to support around 10 different languages.

I would recommend that you create a single Smart Form in the primary supported language (or the one which you're most comfortable maintaining forms). Embed all necessary logic in this form, and design it with the idea that it would need to be viewable in multiple languages (e.g. is there room for potentially alternate language headers?). Then use transaction SE63 to translate all necessary form components into each desired language -- one by one -- and they will all be bound together under the same form name. In my experience, a basic multi-column spreadsheet (put together with the guidance of professional translators) works well as a translation guide.

The advantages of a single, shared form include: consistent look and feel, avoiding dual maintenance for shared logic (or, in your case, up to 10x maintenance), and simplified output determination. On the other hand, a single form does constrain your design and can make for a more complex implementation. Also, it requires just as much testing as multiple forms would. Generally speaking, I prefer to leverage a single shared form whenever possible. In your case, since there are ten, that may be a challenge, but it seems possible. The decision point is best reached mid-way through the design process, so that there is still time to choose another approach.

This was first published in June 2006

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