We have a new project from a client who is Spanish and has all his Java code and comments, variables, method names in Spanish.

We are not permitted to convert it into English and then use them. If any of you have worked in such a condition, can you advice what can be done to mitigate this risk as we have to do new developments and this is a major show stopper..

Their Java project has a mix of EJBs, Struts, Custom Framework and more than 10000 Java Files with atleast total of 200k lines of code (min. estimate) and is deployed using Weblogic Server 10

Regards, Dazzlers

  • 1
    This is off-topic, unfortunately. I'd be interested to see people's suggestions, though.
    – Oli Charlesworth
    Feb 19, 2011 at 18:43
  • 2
    Also: 10000 source files? WTF?
    – Oli Charlesworth
    Feb 19, 2011 at 18:44
  • 1
    horrible.. Tell them they suck :)
    – Bozho
    Feb 19, 2011 at 18:45
  • 2
    Yikes... I'm giving you +1 here because I truly sympathize what you have to go through here. :) You probably need a language interface for your project, or probably a language converter that converts from Spanish to English for your development, then convert back before committing the code back to the repo. :/
    – limc
    Feb 19, 2011 at 18:47
  • 3
    I wish you could share the name of the company, so we all know that we should stay as far as we can from such a @$!*$@! company
    – Augusto
    Feb 19, 2011 at 18:56

5 Answers 5


Live with it. We have a similar problem, that ironically is also with Spanish code. We're using google translate on a daily basis. But our code is not entirely in Spanish, with us it's just in a small module that does front-end. Still, it sucks, but we calculated that living with it is cheaper than investing in persuading the people responsible, that this is a bad idea.


We are not permitted to convert it into English and then use them.

What is the task? To maintain and modify this code base?

If yes, maybe you'll have to hire some Spanish-speaking programmers.

What other requirements, documentation, etc.

I had to work on a code base that was a mix of English and Japanese, but I had no such prohibition against translating. I used Google Translate to translate labels and such for web elements. Not all of them were translatable, because some were added as Kanji characters in gifs.

If the client is truly that inflexible and difficult to work with, perhaps it's time to find another client.

Or have some humorous revenge and write the documentation in another non-Spanish language. It'd be funny to force them to have to hire their own translator.

  • 2
    +1: get a dictionary and a language course. I'm completely flabbergasted at the supid1ty of that Spanish company as the difference in language and probably timezones will make anything they're trying to do a complete failure... I've been involved in off-shoring for 8 years and NEVER heard of such a .... I don't even know how to call...it... I'm indignant.
    – Augusto
    Feb 19, 2011 at 18:54

If the comments are in Spanish, is because Spanish is the language in which the previous programmers were fluent, and the best fitted to communicate between themselves.

If you (or your company) don't understand Spanish and you don't have Spanish programmers, you should not have taken the job, because you are not able to do what your client is requesting.

  • Spanish speaking programmers not the same as Spanish speaking Company / Customer
    – umlcat
    Mar 11, 2011 at 19:11

If your company does not have enough spanish-speaking (writing/reading) developers, then either hire enough, or finish the contract with the client (and advise them to announce this fact to their next service before making a contract), I would say.

And maybe you should fire the manager (on your side) who made the contract with this client - either he knew that you are not able to really use the code, or he didn't (then he didn't inform himself).

In some programs I'm writing I'm using mostly German or Esperanto identifiers and comments (these are two different projects - I have some more, too), but then I don't expect anyone without knowledge of this language to maintain these projects.


Write wrapper classes which maps each Spanish named method into an English method, and then invoke those.

  • 1
    At 10,000 files according to the OP that's a ton of work...
    – TheLQ
    Feb 19, 2011 at 20:40
  • 1
    Just for those classes that needs to be changed. Also a quick language course migt be useful.
    – user1249
    Feb 19, 2011 at 20:50