Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Turkish Java Needs Special Brewing

Turkish Java Needs Special Brewing

On a recent trip to Turkey to meet with a customer, I heard a comment that one of the reasons Java is being held back in that country is because of an almost ubiquitous local bug.

In the Turkish alphabet there are two letters for "i," dotless and dotted. The problem is that the dotless "i" in lowercase becomes the dotless in uppercase. At first glance this wouldn't appear to be a problem; however, the problem lies in what programmers do with upper- and lowercases in their code.

The two lowercase letters are \u0069 "i" and \u0131 (dotless "I") and are totally unrelated. Their uppercase versions are \u0130 (capital letter "I" with dot above it) and \u0049 "I". The issue is that this behavior does not occur in English where the single lowercase dotted "i" becomes an uppercase dotless "I."

With the statement String.toUppercase(), most Java programmers try to effectively neutralize case. Consider a HashMap with string keys and you have a key that you want to look up. If you want to ignore case, you'll probably uppercase everything going into the map, its entries, and the string you're doing the lookup with. This works fine for English, but not for Turkish, where dotless becomes dotless. I was shown an example of this bug in a popular HTML editor where a developer had done this with the set of HTML tags, so <title> would be indistinguishable from <TITLE> to their program and all variants in between, and probably looked like:

If (tagEnteredByUser.toUppercase().equals("TITLE"){
doTitleTagStuff();
}

In Turkish when "title" is entered, the resulting uppercase string has a dotted uppercase I (not the English dotless one) and the program wasn't working as desired. This bug is just one example of where it had occurred. Another popular Java application failed with a similar bug tied back to the following code:

if (System.getProperty("os.name").toUppercase().equals("WINDOWS"){
doStuffSpecificForWindows();
}

The current locale is set as the user's country, and the implementation of string methods use the default locale.

String toUppercase(){
return toUppercase(java.util.Locale.getDefault());
}

Given that this works for English (where /u0060 uppercases to /u0049 correctly), why doesn't it hold true for Turkish? The developer did find special code that deliberately does the dotted to dotted, dotless to dotless, complete with a comment ironically stating:

// special code for turkey

The solution is to specify an explicit English locale when uppercasing for programmatic purposes, so the first line of buggy code would become:

If (tagEnteredByUser.toUppercase(java.util.Locale.ENGLISH)).equals("TITLE"){
doTitleTagStuff();
}

Even if this were diligently done by everyone developing your code, you'll still encounter a problem when using something written by someone else whose source you don't have access to. For this the current workaround by Tamar Sezgin and others is to switch the locale of the program before the buggy code, make the call, and then switch back.

Locale.setDefault(Locale.ENGLISH);
// Use incorrectly written code
Locale.setDefault(new Locale("tr","","");

The problem with this is that it fails to follow the principle of least astonishment. It's only there because Java supports locale-sensitive case conversion. However, this isn't offered by alternatives such as VB, C++, or Delphi, where case conversion follows English rules and if you want to do dotless "correctly" you have to implement it yourself. The only case where you would actually want to do it "correctly" would be for a user-visible string accepting a Turkish name (such as a surname), and the developers who want to do this would be those who were more likely to be aware of locale issues. The exception would then be:

Locale turkishLocale = new Locale("tr","","");
String tag = anotherUserVisibleString.toUppercase(turkishLocale));
String s2 = anotherUserVisibleString.toUppercase(turkishLocale));
If(s1.equals(s2)){
doSomethingFunWithTwoEqualsStrings();
}

However, even better would be:

If(sq.equalsIgnoreCase(s2)){
doSomethingFunWithTwoEqualsStrings();
}

so the only real case of wanting to uppercase a user-visible string to compare against another user-visible string is left to developers of database indexes and doesn't need to be tackled at all by most Java programmers.

There is a PMR 53119 open to try to get Java changed so the default logic is to assume the string is not user visible. However, because this would be a breaking change to the current behavior, it can't be done. In the meantime, I would urge all developers who ever find themselves converting a string into upper- or lowercase to think about whether these are user-visible strings. If not, make sure you explicitly use the English locale, otherwise you're going to serve up Java that tastes great everywhere except Turkey.

.  .  .

I would like to thank Tamar Sezgin of IBM Turkey for explaining this problem to me and helping with this editorial.

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (2)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...