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FW: Q&A content

From: Arko, Phil <phil.arko@scr.siemens.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 15:06:16 -0400
Message-ID: <20B20848358CDA44AB6A2E277D2E1C5E01866C50@postoffice.scr.siemens.com>
To: "'public-i18n-geo@w3.org'" <public-i18n-geo@w3.org>

-----Original Message-----
From: Arko, Phil 
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2003 1:34 PM
To: 'ishida@w3.org'
Subject: RE: Q&A content

Hi Richard,

I'm organizing a conference this week, so I'm not online that often (sorry
for the delay!).

Following is my question. I also attached the Word version (if it's more
helpful). It might be a little easier to read.

This would more readily be categorized as "introductory" whereas the already
published questions could be categorized as "advanced." I'll talk to you in
a little while.

Many thanks,

Questions & Answers:  Benefits of internationalized code


What are some benefits of utilizing international-friendly code on the


People of every culture and nation can view content on the Internet and
communicate with its authors. Often times, this content can easily be
misunderstood because the formatting and presentation is not consistent with
their local and cultural expectations. It is important for businesses to
communicate the correct message to their visitors.

With some initial planning and the use of the proper markup languages, your
site can be structured so as to allow for content to both properly display
foreign words, as well as format and present the content in the local


Using code that allows for localization will ensure that the meaning of the
content is preserved, regardless of the reader's culture. Some of the
benefits of this are described here. 

A typical challenge is to ensure that characters display correctly for the
end user. Standard HTML can easily accommodate English, Germanic, and
Romantic languages, but what happens when an occasional foreign word or name
is used? In the past, a quick solution was to use an inline graphic to
display the character. Another partial solution was to copy and paste the
desired character from another program into an HTML document. While the
result might look correct in one scenario, there is not a guarantee that
every user will see the same text. There are many variables that might need
to be considered, such as font, operating system, browser software, etc. The
use of Unicode will ensure that every user will see the same content,
regardless of the system or software they are using. This is becoming
increasingly important as users move toward mobile and other non-standard
browsing devices.

As many languages read from right to left (RTL), the ability to include such
content becomes an even greater challenge. In addition to the use of
Unicode, content should be marked up using XML, and include a language
attribute. When read by an XHTML page, the language attribute will adjust
the direction of the text so that it reads properly.

There are numerous benefits to using XML. Because the basis of XML is simply
to define content, it does not define its presentation. The accompanying
language (such as XHTML) used for formatting and presentation will present
the content in the proper manner. For example, some cultures use a comma as
a thousands separator and a period as a decimal point, while other cultures
use the period and comma, respectively. 1,547 in Germany and 1.547 in the
United States are actually the same number. When using the proper markup
languages, the numbers will display appropriately for the audience.

There are many other variable elements that can cause confusion when not
converted and displayed properly. Some of these include the date and time
formats, punctuation marks, and scientific characters.

By the way...

There is a little more initial work in building a site that allows for
localization, but it is much simpler to add additional language and regional
data when the proper framework was first established. When beginning to
design content, or migrate existing content, first consider all of the
potential users of your site.

It is highly recommended to work with native speaking people who are
familiar with the regions and cultures that are part of your user

When serving localized content to a user, it is best to in some way indicate
or imply that they are viewing content that has been formatted for their
viewing. This avoids questions and further misinterpretations.

Further information

Unicode [ www.unicode.org ]
XHTML [ www.w3.org/MarkUp ]
XML [ www.w3.org/XML ]

"Questions & Answers: Date Formats" [
www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-date-format.html ]
"Questions & Answers: Multilingual Forms" [
www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-forms-utf-8.html ]

"Unicode in XML and other Markup Languages" [ www.w3.org/TR/unicode-xml ]

Received on Wednesday, 11 June 2003 15:06:43 UTC

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