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Internationalization resources complements of the W3C

Successful website globalization is all about asking questions.

A key point I stress in Think Outside the Country is that nobody knows everything. Nobody can know everything. And you should not trust anyone who says or implies they do. And, honestly, that’s part of the fun of this field — from language to culture to country to technology, you will never stop learning something new.

So where do I go when I have questions?

Well, if the questions are technical and specific to the Internet, I often begin by visiting the World Wide Web (W3C) Consortium, specifically the Internationalization Working Group. Richard Ishida, who leads this group, has done an impressive job over the years of curating and publishing tutorials, best practices and standards.

So where do you begin if you want to learn more?

Here are a few resources that I recommend checking out…

Working with Languages in HTML

A nice overview of language tags and why they matter.

Personal Names Around the World

An excellent explanation for why “first name” and “last name” in an input form is bound to fail when taken global.

Introduction to Multilingual Web Addresses

A nice intro to internationalized domain names (IDNs), punycode, and other challenging aspects of getting non-Latin domains to work on the Internet.

Unicode Bidirectional Algorithm Basics

A dense read but  important if you want to understand how web browsers handle bidi scripts such as Hebrew and Arabic.

CSS3 and International Text

A look at the cool new multilingual features of CSS.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Dive in!



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Do your web developers know about Globalize?

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 4.55.59 PM

Today, the JQuery Foundation has announced availability of Globalize 1.0:

Globalize provides developers with always up-to-date global number formatting and parsing, date and time formatting and parsing, currency formatting, and message formatting. Based on the Unicode Consortium standards and specifications, Globalize uses the Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR), the most extensive and widely-used standard repository of locale data. With Globalize, all developers can quickly reach global markets with confidence that their apps and sites will always have the most accurate and up-to-date locale data available.

I published a book a few years back on an early iteration of Globalize. I’m excited to see  jQuery moving forward with Globalize, as it has improved not only the lives of anyone who must internationalize and localize web apps and websites, but also the experience of web users around the world. Because users benefit from seeing dates and times and currencies displayed as they expect them to be displayed for their respective cultures — and displayed consistently across web applications.

If your developers aren’t aware of Globalize, point them to it today.

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Visualizing Unicode

Unicode is one the great achievements of our era. It’s also incredibly intimidating.

So I love to come across videos and web sites that help demystify Unicode.

A week ago I came across a video created by jörg piringer that displays, in fast motion, nearly 50,000 Unicode characters. I’ve embedded it below:

The video lasts 33 minutes, and it still only displays about half of all Unicode characters. But even so, the video is a great tool to help people who have never heard of Unicode get a feel for how massive this encoding truly is.

But let’s say you want to see the ENTIRE Unicode set.

Fortunately, Andrew West has created a nifty web page that allows you to view all Unicode characters (fonts permitting) — and at your own leisurely pace. I highly recommend checking it out.

Here is a screen shot of one character:

Source: Michael Kaplan

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Upcoming: Speaking at LocWorld and Unicode Conference

I’m happy to be not only attending but speaking at Localization World and Unicode Conference in October.

Here are the details on my sessions:

Localization World
Seattle, WA

  • October 6: International Search Summit
  • October 7: The Next Ten Years of Web Globalization
  • October 7: Making Your Website Truly Global — and No, We’re Not Talking About Language

Unicode Conference
Santa Clara, CA

  • October 19: Improving the Global Gateway: Established and Emerging Trends in Multilingual Navigation

If you’re planning to attend either event, please let me know. I’d love to meet.