Saturday, March 12, 2011

Share and Deliver BI Publisher Reports in Multiple Languages

global flags

When you share your reports with someone who speak and read in different languages you want your reports to be shown in their language, right ? Well, translating reports with BI Publisher is not only easy but also reduces the maintenance cost a lot.

Many of us in the BI Publisher product development team used to work in Globalization and Multi Lingual support, which enables Oracle products and applications to be used in many different languages and countries and territories.  And we have a lot of experience in this area. In fact, being a strategic reporting platform for Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel, and many other Oracle application products, our customers from all over the world are generating thousands of thousands of reports, including out-of-the-box pre-developed reports from Oracle and customer created or customized reports, in their own local language everyday as they operate and manage their business.

Today, I’m going to talk about this very topic, how to translate my reports with BI Publisher 11G.

Translation Grows, not the Numbers of the Reports

Most of the reporting tools, regardless if it’s traditional or new, always take this translation on the back burner. They require their users to copy an original report and translate the whole thing. So when you want to support additional10 languages you will need to have 10 copies of the original. Imagine when you have 50 reports then you will end up having 500 reports (50 x 10) ! Now you need to maintain these 500 reports, whenever you need to make a change in a report you need to apply the same change to the other 10 reports. And as you imagine this is not only a nightmare for IT managements but not acceptable especially for the applications like Oracle EBS that supports over 30 languages.

So first thing we did was, very simple, we separated the translation out of the report and marry it to the report only at the report generation. This means, regardless of how many languages you need to support you need to have only one report and translation files for the 10 languages, which would contain the translated letters and words. So let’s say you have 50 reports and need to support 10 languages for those reports you still have only 50 reports and each report now has 10 language translation files. Yes, translation is the one should grow as you add more languages to support, not the report itself!

And second, we provide the translation files in XLIFF format, which is an international standard XML based format to exchange and maintain translation strings. So once you generate the XLIFF files for your reports with BI Publisher then you can work with any translation vendors in the world to make a mass translation or you can translate the XML files by yourself by manually updating the translatable strings presented in this text file.

Lastly, we made it easier to manage the translation process starting from generating the XLIFF files to uploading the translated XLIFF files back to the BI Publisher server. You can generate, download, upload the XLIFF files from the BI Publisher’s Web interface with your browser and you can see the translated reports right away without needing to shutdown or restart your server. While the translated reports are displayed based on your language preference setting you can also specify a different language when you schedule or deliver the reports so that they can be generated in your customer’s preferred language.

What Can I Translate?

When it comes to translation there are three things.

First, report content translation. When you receive a report you like to see the content like report title, section title, comments, annotation, table column header, and anything that are static and embedded in the report. in your preferred language. We call this Reports Content translation.

Second, when you open a report online you might want to see not only the report content being translated but also the report UI, such as report name, parameter name, layout name, and anything that would help you to navigate around the reports, to be translated in your language. We call this Reports UI translation. And this separation of the Reports Content and Reports UI translation makes it very useful especially when you want to navigate through the reports in your preferred language UI but want to generate the reports in your customer’s preferred language. Imagine you are English native speaker and need to generate and send a report to your customers in China. You like to see the report name, parameter name in English so that you can comfortably navigate to the report and generate the report output, but like to see the report generated in Chinese so that the your customers in China can understand the report when they receive it.

And lastly, you might want to see even the data presented in the report to be translated. For example, you might want to see product names in an Order Status report to be translated based on the report viewer’s language preference. We call this Reporting Data translation. Since this Reporting Data translation is maintained at the data source level such as Database tables along with the main data, you need to prepare the translation at the data source level first. Then, you want to make sure that your query is switched accordingly based on the language preference setting so that the translated data will be retrieved.

How to Translate BI Publisher Reports?

Now when it comes to ‘how to translate BI Publisher reports?’ the main focus here is about the translation for the Report Content and Report UI. And I just created this video to show you how to create and manage the translation with BI Publisher 11G. Please take a look at the clip below.


In today’s business world, customers and suppliers are from all over the world regardless of the size of the company or organization. Supporting multiple languages for your reports is no longer something ‘nice to have’, it’s mandatory. BI Publisher is designed to support multi lingual reports from the beginning without any extra hidden cost of license or configuration like other reporting tools such as Crystal Reports. You can support additional languages translation at any time with the very simple steps shown in the video above. Happy translation!

Please share your translation experience with us!