Keywords: locales, X.400, X.500, WWW, e-mail, multilingual, transliteration, Transparent Language Processing, character set conversion, translation memory, machine translation
For telematic services, users expect to be able to:
the service in a language and script of their choice, both for
input and output,
work in their own national or cultural environment, and
switch between different languages and scripts.
Anything less than this hampers productive work and effective communication.
To accomplish this, MAITS defines four levels of Transparent Language Processing (TLP):
0. Codeset Conversion
At this level, the accessed data is converted to the character sets usable by the client platform so that they can be visible to the user.
1. Transliteration and Cultural String Formatting
At Level-1, language-sensitive transliteration is added to allow access to data encoded in different scripts (such as accessing Greek or Cyrillic from a French workstation). Correct cultural formatting of date/time, numeric, and currency fields occurs here.
2. Translation Memory
Level-2 TLP adds the ability for an application to query a stored pool of context-sensitive translated words and phrases to build up language specific keywords, attributes fields, and basic error messages.
3. Machine Translation
Level-3 TLP includes parallel machine translation of body text for first-cut approximations of textual content for the end-user. User Community MAITS intends to create a low-level API (Application Programming Interface) to enhance existing standards for globalization.
As such, the user community is expected to be quite large, encompassing virtually all European users of X.400 and internet electronic mail services, X.500 directory services, and WWW (World Wide Web) information access. In addition, the API is expected to be used by independent software vendors (ISVs) for international product offerings.
Sybase and NEXOR, as partners, intend to include MAITS in their product line.
IBM, HP, Software AG, Dunn and Bradstreet Software, The British Library and the European Union Document Publishing Office (OPOCE) have all shown a strong interest in incorporating MAITS in their development efforts.
The following international standards efforts can be considered users of MAITS: CEN/TC304, the European Locales and the European subset of ISO/IEC 10646, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG20 and WG15, POSIX Locales, and ISO/TC46/SC2 working on transliteration and transcription of Cyrillic and Greek.
The objects of MAITS are to:
specifications for Level 0 to Level 3 TLP as an enhancement to
the 'C' Programming Language,
implement an 'C'-language API for Level 0 to Level 2,
publish a standard set of guidelines for using MAITS in global multilingual distributed applications,
enhance X.400, X.500, exmh, WWW, and Sybase to use Level 0 to Level 2 TLP,
do a feasibility study and small demonstration of Level 3 TLP,
publicly demonstrate and exploit MAITS with a number of interested partners in multiple languages in multiple countries,
participate on standards bodies to encourage MAITS to be included in the 'C' programming language, X.400, X.500, Internet, SQL, CORBA, and the WWW standards.
0. Level 0 TLP - Codeset Conversion. The classic example here is a user working with a PC under PC-DOS, with a default code page of cp850, accessing information which is encoded in ISO/IEC 8859-1 (Latin 1). All accented characters would be incorrectly displayed and/or input unless codeset conversion took place. With MAITS, the application (X.400, X.500, Internet e-mail, WWW, and Sybase) will query the client environment and the server (or source data) formats and then utilize the correct codeset conversion engine accordingly. The low-level MAITS API will be used to do the conversions.
1. Level 1 TLP - Transliteration and Localized Cultural String Formats. In this scenario, a user using WWW follows a link from their home machine in Paris to a university in Athens. The user does not know how to read Greek, but she does know what reference works she is looking for. In this case, with Level 1 TLP enabled, the Greek script would be automatically transliterated into Latin characters, in a manner sensitive to the French language. This scenario can be repeated for e-mail (X.400, internet), directory services (X.500), and vendor applications (Sybase). The low-level MAITS API will be used to do the transliteration.
2. Level 2 TLP - Translation Memory. Now, the user switches over to use directory services, using X.500 to find experts in Greek philosophy throughout Europe. The trouble is, the data in the X.500 directories is entered in the local language at each site (German in Germany, Italian in Italy, etc.). Using Level 2 TLP, the X.500 service translates the keywords and attributes of the query into each appropriate target language after first submitting the query in the source language and English to maximize the number of valid search "hits". If, for instance, the target language is encoded in Cyrillic or Greek, and the user has no ability to display the script, the Level 1 transliteration can pop into effect to make the results usable to the end-user.
3. Level 3 TLP - Machine Translation. Once an expert is found, a WWW reference is found in the directory, so the end-user attempts to access the information they need. The user finds that the Web page is written in Russian, so they request a machine-translated copy to be sent to them via e-mail (or some other means as is deemed feasible during the design phase of MAITS). The machine translated copy is then read to glean enough information out of the text to decide if further research is needed along those lines or not.
The MAITS project deliverables are:
Extensions to the 'C' Programming Language to support Transparent Language Processing
Standard Guidelines for use of the MAITS API and protocol enhancements needed to communicate globalized information from application to application in order to effectively maintain a transparent language environment.
X.400 with MAITS enhancements
X.500 with MAITS enhancements
exmh internet mail tool with MAITS enhancements
WWW Web Server and Browser with MAITS enhancements
Level 3 TLP feasibility study and demonstration
Commercial X.400, X.500, a WWW Web browser, and client/server application development tools will be created and marketed as a result of the MAITS research and development. It is expected that the standards resulting from MAITS will become widely accepted in the standards and TS communities.
Two users groups will be established: one from the service operators and the other from the end users. In the service operator group the following bodies will take part: DKnet, Denmark; UNINET, Norway; DFN, Germany; ARNES, Slovenia;, GARR, Italy; and EUnet, covering several European countries. This service providers group is expected to provide input in the validation phase and testing. The end user group which is expected to be set up after the validation and testing will take part in the demonstration stage. Here, the following organizations will take part: University of Klagenfurt, Austria; Elletra, Trieste, Italy; INRIA, France; National Technical University of Athens, Greece; Institut Jozef Stefan, Slovenia; University of Salford, United Kingdom; as well as customers and employees of NEXOR, Sybase, and Alis Technologies. The MAITS project is expected to enter into coordinated efforts with other LE-Sector projects, but the degree of integration has not yet been determined.