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Internationalisation and localisation

These closely related terms, also spelt internationalization and localization in US spelling, refer to the process of making a program adaptable to different languages and locales, and then adapting that internationalised program available in a particular locale. Issues that typically arise during the process of internationalising a program include:

  • string translation, which in turn involves issues such as:
    • realising what strings in your program need to be treated as separate variants for the purpose of translation;
    • having a mechanism for selecting the version of a given string in a given language;
    • making components in your application flexible enough to cope with strings of different lengths and with different character sets;
    • actually presenting the strings in an appropriate form for a translator, and then for your program.
  • string sorting and comparison: languages differ may in the sort order for a given bunch of strings, or in whether they consider two strings to be "equal" for a given purpose; via the collator class, it is possible to sort and compare strings in a more language-relevant way than via the "raw" Collections.sort() and String.compareto() methods.
  • formatting of dates and numbers (do you put a comma or full stop between the thousands in a printer number? do you put the month before or after the day?)

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Written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2009. All rights reserved.