Re: internationalize and localize

Subject: Re: internationalize and localize
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: Jennifer Itatani <jitatani -at- esri -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 12:14:50 -0400

Jennifer Itatani wrote:

Have these become synonyms, or are there subtle differences between the two?


They are not synonyms, at least as far as software is concerned.

Internationalization is creating or modifying the software architecture so that the software can work in multiple languages. For example, all the text strings that show up in the user interface should be stored somewhere other than the code that draws the interface--in a database table, a .dll, a text file, or some other structure. And the space available for writing those text strings to the interface has to accommodate different-length strings. And there has to be a mechanism for selecting the language to use--either at installation or preferably through user selection on the fly. And there has to be a mechanism for accommodating different character sets, including double-byte sets.

Localization is, as I understand it, providing the dataset (the strings, date formats, currency types, other constants) for one or more specific locales. How narrowly specified those locales are may vary from implementation to implementation. For example, it may be sufficient for some freeware tool to offer "Spanish," "French," and "English" as the choices, without regard for what hemisphere the language is spoken in, let alone what country. For a major product, though, you'd want to offer a lot more choices.


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internationalize and localize: From: Jennifer Itatani

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