I learn something new every week and this week was no different :-). We were given a lesson in Internationalis(z)ation and Localis(z)ation from Matthais, which was the first time we have had him for ITC. This was confusing but some parts interesting for me, some parts like websites available in different languages, the different keyboard layouts for different countries. I have never thought about these aspects of IT before, so it was interesting to have a play around and experience these different things. Anyway I will be looking further into this topic in this blog post, so hopefully we both learn some cool new things 🙂
Definition of Internationalis(z)ation and localis(z)ation
“In computing, internationalization and localization (other correct spellings are internationalisation and localisation) are means of adapting computer software to different languages, regional differences and technical requirements of a target market.”
“Internationalization is the process of designing a software application so that it can potentially be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes.”
“Localization is the process of adapting internationalized software for a specific region or language by adding locale-specifc components and translating text.”
Details where the presentation left gaps
I am slightly unsure as to what gaps were left in the presentation presented in class, so am I simply going to explain some things further. Make more sense of things to help myself and whoever is reading to have a better grasp on the subject. Explaining things and answering some questions that were in the slideshow.
In computing, a locale is a set of parameters that defines the user’s language, country and any special variant preferences that the user wants to see in their user interface. Usually a locale identifier consists of at least a language identifier and a region identifier.
So when using your computer, you never really take much notice of the computer date, time, language and country setting. You choose what you want the computer to display and it displays it for you, making it an international object being able to adapt to the users wants. You are able to change region and language settings anytime, there are no set preferences. (Example in picture below). Pretty cool ae!
Languages/ Dialects/ Countries
This is just a taste of how many different languages are spoken in numerous countries around the globe. In the world today, there are more than 2700 languages spoken and with over 7000 dialects. When different cultures meet and mix, new languages are developed. Now imagine designing systems, websites, etc for every single different language and dialects within those languages! That would be pretty much close to impossible, because you can never really create a whole system in a foreign tongue without having a person that can read/write in that foreign language, so you would have to have a person from every nook and cranny of the earth. Having a translation that is not 100% correct can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. Without having someone who reads/writes perfect; for example English and Chinese, you will not get a perfect translation.
Not only when designing systems, certain websites, etc do you need to know about languages but also time zones is another important one. Now, there are currently 40 world time zones. There are 24 standard time zones plus up to 16 maybe more areas of the world that use time zones divided into 15, 30, 45 minutes increments. There are exceptions though, for example; China, about the size of the United States, uses the same time throughout the country even though it crosses 4 standard time zones.
The last one I am going to get into is currency, just briefly to give you an idea of the amount of information every bit entails. There are a total of 178 different currencies in the world, the majority with their own symbols, symbols and currency layouts that also have to be incorporated into a system. Not only that but the exchange rate is changing every single second, so you will need to have a system in place that will be able to update prices, etc according to the exchange rate.
Why Anna, why would you pump so much information at me? Because it is important as an IT professional to understand just how much detail, work and information goes into something as simple as settings for languages, times, dates, currencies, etc. As it is all part of Globalisation and Globalisation is a part of Information Technology in so many different ways.
Software what software?
This information is used in different types of software to ensure users understand the software, and it is set up for their specific needs. There are operating systems, where you are able to change your preferences at anytime. Web applications, which can either be determined by the users IP address or some websites provide options. Weaknesses with this approach? Users could use programs such as a IP scrabbler or they could be a tourist in a different country, but not know how to read that country’s language. Stand alone client applications, are often configured during installation, however problems can be created from this because the users preferences cannot be changed. For example; you have a client who would like to see the application in their first language, so you oblige, but what happens when you need to change it back to english for yourself? You can’t because it is configured on installation.
Which types of businesses would benefit most from internationalisation?
Well, to start off with of course international businesses would benefit a lot, dealing with people of different cultures, all over the world, with different languages and currencies. A lot of international businesses advertise, sell, share information over the internet (e.g: Ebay, Facebook). So the internet I think will be the BIGGEST “business” that would benefit the most from internationalisation, it is used internationally every second of every day, it has to adapt, change, “morph” for the needs of different users all over the world. I mean, what would it be like if the webpages all over the internet came in only one language? There would only be users from countries where they speak that specific language. There are however, languages that are not available on popular webpages, the internet has not fully been able to provide for every user. I believe that one day it will be able to be used in every language, every different preference of users all around the world. There are also businesses that deal with importing and exporting goods from different countries, they would benefit from internationalisation having to deal with different exchange rates, languages, customs, cultures, etc. They would need to know all of these things to ensure they are trading legally and fairly. Another business that would benefit a lot from internationalisation is of course computer manufacturers, having to create computers to suit all users preferences. Computers that are sold all over the world, not only the computers themselves but their manuals and the manuals of their parts. A lot of globalisation goes into creating and selling a computer, exchange rates. Very overlooked, the computer manufacturers have to work out how much to sell the computer for in so many different countries, a price that is the same and that is fair. I think that eventually in the future the majority of businesses are going to have to adapt to the growing amount of different cultures in all sorts of different countries, internationalisation is the future for every business.
“Business process for internationalizing software
In order to internationalize a product, it is important to look at a variety of markets that your product will foreseeably enter. Details such as field length for street addresses, unique format for the address, ability to make the zip code field optional to address countries that do not have zip codes or the state field for countries that do not have states, plus the introduction of new registration flows that adhere to local laws are just some of the examples that make internationalization a complex project.
A broader approach takes into account cultural factors regarding for example the adaptation of the business process logic or the inclusion of individual cultural (behavioral) aspects”.
Which (kind of) countries would benefit most from internationalisation?
This question took me a long time to really think about, think about the meaning of internationalisation, what it actually entails, think hard about which countries would benefit the most and then it came to me. Of course Anna, countries like the United States of America, United Kingdom, even New Zealand and so many more would benefit the most. Why? Because countries like ours has so many different cultures living here, as do so many other countries. They would benefit the most because they have so many cultures to adapt to, increasing every year. Not only that but we also have a great deal of tourists every year without fail especially here in Nelson. We would benefit from internationalisation so we can become more “user friendly” if you will, so that people who come here for the first time from other countries can adapt more easily to living here, we are a beautiful country. Having anything from important signs, warnings, available TV channels, food at the supermarket in different languages. Having a culturally friendly environment so that different cultures won’t feel out of place or uneasy. I could be wrong, but it make sense to me that countries that are more diverse will benefit more, will have more “use” for globalisation.
What I have tried to do with this blog is to explain what internationalisation and localisation (globalisation) are and to answer some questions that were on the slideshow presented to us. This subject at first seemed like a really complicated one that confused me a great deal, but now having done research of my own and really thinking about the definitions of them both I think I now understand them better. I understand why as IT professionals this subject is important for us to know since our careers will be based on a very “internationalised” machine, a computer. I definitely think that internationalisation is the future, as many countries are slowly becoming more diverse, so many different cultures, we will surely become an “internationalised” world.