Liveblogging a session at Iceweb 2006 (; )

Corny introduction from Halli. (For some reason, Molly insists on writing “internationalization” with an S, as though she were British. Neither of us is, so I won’t. [There was going to be a joke about that later – “Which part of this presentation was internationalized?” – but Molly forgot it.])

I am not an internationalization specialist. I was asked by Richard Ishida of the internationalization working group at W3C, who had attended my session on colour and culture. Helps get the guidelines out, education especially. “So I’m officially the outreach girl.” Has cards with internationalization quick tips.

What is internationalization? Why does it matter, or why should it?

I look at internationalization as being the giant that’s asleep, but it’s got one eye open; it’s just waking up. Within a few years, most Web developers are going to find themselves doing something related to internationalization. As we say in the working group, we really are putting the world in the World Wide Web.

Iceland has a unique language, so you’re already working in an internationalization sense. This is the first time I’ve ever spoken to a group that has, across the board, experience with developing in a second language. How many are working in a third language? (A few hands go up.)


  • Purchasing power: Users are three times more likely to buy a product when addressed in their own language.
  • Customer service: Costs drop when presented in the native language. One company created a Korean-language Web site just from looking at referrers, increasing revenue by 8%.
  • Better user experience.


  • Internationalization means design or development that enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language. Provides technologies, too, as for bidirectional text, language identification, vertical text, non-Latin “typography.” Date and time formats, calendars, number formats, names. (She was looking for the term “salutation,” viz. mister, missus.) Separates local content from main content.
  • Localization means adaptation to meet the language, culture, and other needs of a locale (she said “specific target market”). Often thought of as a mere synonym for translation.

General best practices for Web standards are appropriate for internationalization.

  • Structure: encoding; lang and xml:lang, ability to manage multilingual and monolingual documents. (Also mentioned DOCTYPE, head, body, all of which can be left out at least some of the time.)
  • Semantics: If you use presentational I element for emphasis, it won’t work in Japanese, which emphasizes words with dots above characters. [She yelled over to me and asked if I knew what they were called. I glanced and hollered “Furigana!”; they’re actually bohten.] Use structural em markup.

Text fragmentation and reuse. Screen usage: Direction, expansion and collapse (larger or smaller text blocks), emphasis.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.04.27 10:25. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

(Values you enter are stored and may be published)



None. I quit.

Copyright © 2004–2024