If I think about it real hard, I might be able to find a worse way, but I don’t think I’m that smart.
Behold, the awesome power of
xlate()! (FYI, I added the documentation and refactored variable names for clarity)
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I found this function because an app started timing out while building a form, exceeding the maximum execution time of 30 secs. Turns out that for every single piece of text in that form,
xlate() was being called, resulting in about 20 – 25 queries per page load.
A typical query looks like this.
Considering the query is being called over and over in multiple loops, guess what that means? Loops within loops and queries within queries. FML.
The code is immediately suspect for another reason. Notice how there’s no key for the translation? The English text (complete with the “required field ‘ *’”) is used as the key, and coincidentally is exactly what’s being returned. That made me suspicious about the xlate table’s schema. Here it is.
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Brilliant! There’s no message/translation key, so if you want an English translation, you call the string that’s going to be returned anyhow in the where clause. If you want to add a new language, you have to have to alter the schema to include a new column for language, and then add a translation for every single English item in the table (or risk null returns during translations). If your translation isn’t found, the function adds the translation, meaning a new row in the DB with a null value for all other language columns. What’s perhaps craziest is the fact that you have to know the translation in order to retrieve the translation, otherwise a wrong translation might be added to the DB, making the entire implementation null, void, and dangerous.
Like I said, I don’t think I could do a worse job if I tried.
Doing it better
This one’s easy; Translation is a solved problem, don’t roll your own. Did you hear me? Do. Not. Roll. Your. Own. You’re wasting your time, you’re making life harder on yourself, and you’re making maintenance and continuing development near impossible for a maintenance programmer (or on the developer hired to take your place). This is a perfect example of how dangerous NIH syndrome can be.
My experience with translation has been with Zend Translate, and I’m sure there are many other great options out there is you’re not a Zend Framework person. Pick something and run with it, and don’t roll your own.