Considerations When Choosing PeopleSoft Base Language

PeopleSoft is a multi-lingual product but when it comes to base language – there can be only one base language in PeopleSoft and as you might have guessed it – English is the default base language PeopleSoft product gets shipped with.

PeopleSoft base language is the usually the base language of your organization or department. If your organization is based out of Germany, then you have the option to select German as your base language rather than the default language, English. Selection of base language is an action item, which is of prime importance because the performance of your PeopleSoft system can depend on this action.

When PeopleSoft PeopleTools attempts to open language-sensitive objects (such as pages and menus), it first compares the operator’s preferred language to the base language of the database. If the preferred language matches the base language, PeopleSoft PeopleTools immediately loads the required definition from the base language PeopleSoft PeopleTools tables. However, if the user’s preferred language differs from the database’s base language, PeopleSoft PeopleTools must first query the related language tables for the object. Should a translation of the object not be found in the operator’s preferred language, a query is then performed on the base language tables. The following process flow illustrates the selection of the language used for language-sensitive objects, beginning with the language selected when the user signs in to the PeopleSoft application:


While most of these queries typically occur very quickly, they still take up valuable processing time. If your system is prone to slow performance say during during peak hours, this action can further increase the performance problems. To optimize
performance you can set the base language of your database as the language that is used most often by your users. Another consideration is that because PeopleSoft databases are shipped with a base language of English, maintenance is simpler if English remains the base language.

Also, when you apply the product pack, you can ignore other languages (not used by your organization) and save a bit of space because of this. The downside of such an action is that in the future if your organization decides to use a new language and you don’t have it installed, you will have to apply the language translation packs otherwise the pages will get displayed in English or the default language only. Choosing other languages during the installation is much easier than having to visit it later on and applying language packs.

Unicode or Non-Unicode

Now-a-days most of the databases are Unicode, but not all the old versions of the database are Unicode enabled. Add to that, when the database installation is done – it needs to be specified whether the install base would be Unicode or Non-Unicode. If your database is installed as Unicode, you have the option to select your PeopleSoft install as Unicode or Non-Unicode. Here are some of the supported character sets.

  • WE8ISO8859P1 (Western European ISO 8859-1) : All Western European (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, and so on)
  • WE8ISO8859P15 (Western European ISO 8859-15) : All Western European (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, and so on), and includes the Euro symbol.
  • WE8MSWIN1252 (Western European MS Windows CP1252) : All Western European (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch and so on), and includes the euro symbol
  • US7ASCII (US 7–bit ASCII) : English
  • JA16SJIS and JA16SJISTILDE (Japanese Shift-JIS 16-bit) : The JA16SJIS and JA16SJISTILDE character sets are essentially the same, except for the way that the wave dash and the tilde are mapped to and from Unicode. Languages supported are Japanese, English.

To create an Oracle Unicode database, you must specify the character set as either AL32UTF8 or UTF-8 in the CREATE DATABASE statement. The default value for an Oracle Unicode database is AL32UTF8 although UTF-8 is also supported. The difference between the two is that the newer AL32UTF8 supports Unicode supplementary characters. These supplementary characters are not used currently by PeopleSoft applications.

In addition, for certain installation configurations (described in the sections cited below), you must specify the following init.ora parameter: NLS_LENGTH_SEMANTICS=CHAR.

Unicode databases are required if the languages that you selected do not share the same character set. Typically, a single character set can encode all languages written in a single script. For example, English, French, and Spanish all share the same script (Latin), so they can coexist in a non-Unicode database. However, Japanese does not share the same script as French, so if you need to have Japanese and French coexist in a single system, you need a Unicode database.

If you plan on installing or supporting a combination of languages that do not share the same character set, you should use a Unicode database. If you decide to use Unicode for your database, you do not need to select a character set. You can safely use a non-Unicode character set only if your selected languages share the same character set, and there is no possibility of supporting other languages in the future. In this case, you need to decide in which character set your database should be created.

Apurva Tripathi

Apurva is a PeopleSoft consultant and a big advocate of everything PeopleSoft. He is also a technology enthusiast and loves learning and implementing newer and open source technologies. He spends his spare time updating this blog and likes to read books on self help and productivity.

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