I recently came across bsmedberg’s Locale Switcher extension. I was thinking that something like this was needed for Internet cafes, where successive people may want to use the browser in different languages. However, the ability to change languages on the fly is not common, and so the UI for doing so needs to be really obvious and up-front if people are going to find it and take advantage of it.
The problem is further complicated by a technical limitation. It’s not possible to change the language of an already-existing window. All you can say is that all new windows should have the new language. And so the UI can’t just be a set of buttons where you click one and get on with what you were doing.
Here’s my current attempt at the UI for an Internet Cafe Locale Switcher. Comments are very welcome.
Each browser window has a toolbar, which looks something like this (except fixed up and fitting with the rest of the UI and so on):
- The toolbar appears in every top-level window, and changes to it are synced between windows.
- As you hover over each control in the toolbar, two things happen:
- The phrases “New windows in” and “Open New Window” change to be in the relevant language
- A tooltip appears, saying “Make new windows use an English interface” or equivalent.
- The space for the “New window in:” text is long enough for the longest configured string, so that the controls don’t move during mouseover.
This is the clearest thing I can come up with which reflects the fact that the change of language is really a setting for future windows rather than for the current window, yet makes it as easy as possible to get a new window in that language, without possibly losing or hiding any work the user may have in the current window.