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RE: Initial considerations for international web sites

From: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 19:38:08 +0100
To: "'Arko, Phil'" <phil.arko@scr.siemens.com>, <public-i18n-geo@w3.org>
Message-ID: <006b01c33436$6ef76050$ec01000a@w3c40upc3ma3j2>

We're a bit behind on this question.  Any comments from anyone?


Richard Ishida

tel: +44 1753 480 292

> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-i18n-geo-request@w3.org 
> [mailto:public-i18n-geo-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Arko, Phil
> Sent: 12 June 2003 00:47
> To: 'public-i18n-geo@w3.org'
> Subject: Q&A: Initial considerations for international web sites
> Below is the revised Q&A
> I have taken out references to codes and markup languages in 
> the main sections of this Q&A. Because this is meant to act 
> somewhat like an introduction to our area, I felt that it was 
> important to include some mention of these in order to 
> provide the reader with suggested next steps (those being to 
> learn a little more about each of the standards mentioned). I 
> discussed them briefly under "Further information."
> Thanks,
> Phil
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> --------------
> -
> Questions & Answers:  Initial considerations for 
> international web sites
> Question
> What are some topics to consider when creating websites for 
> an international audience?
> Background
> People from around the world can view your content on 
> websites. Because much of what we find on the web is written 
> with a specific demographic in mind, it is often the case 
> that people outside of that demographic misunderstand what 
> has actually been intended. The formatting and presentation 
> of text has very specific regional and cultural requirements 
> that need to be addressed if the content is to be properly understood.
> Answer
> A typical challenge is to ensure that characters display 
> correctly for the end user. Web pages can easily accommodate 
> English, Germanic, and Romance 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 method was to copy and paste the desired 
> character from another program into the web page. While the 
> result might look correct for one user, there is no guarantee 
> that every user will see the same text. There are many 
> variables that might need to be considered, such as the font, 
> operating system, browser software, etc. These concerns are 
> becoming increasingly important as users move toward mobile 
> and other non-standard browsing devices.
> As many languages read from right to left, the ability to 
> include such content becomes an even greater challenge. In 
> addition to identifying the proper characters, there also 
> needs to be a method of properly handling this text.
> 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. For example, 1,547 in Germany 
> and 1.547 in the United States are actually the same number. 
> While the only difference in this example is a single 
> character, the difference in meaning is significant.
> The presentation of dates and times are a very typical 
> example of something that causes confusion for the user. When 
> using two digits each to represent year, month, and day, the 
> actual date might not be obvious. A few examples from 
> different cultures include DD/MM/YY, MM/DD/YY, and YY/MM/DD. 
> A single date in the format "xx/xx/xx" could be interpreted 
> as three different dates.
> There are many other concerns that should be addressed as 
> well when creating an international-friendly site. This is 
> only a sampling of some of these.
> By the way...
> In its simplest definition, "internationalization" refers to 
> creating a site framework that allows for content to be 
> presented in a way that is consistent with regional styles 
> and cultural customs. "Localization" refers to the actual 
> implementation of each specific region's content into the 
> international framework. Internationalization is commonly 
> referred to as "i18n" because there are 18 characters between 
> the beginning "i" and concluding "n." Similarly, localization 
> is commonly referred to as "l10n."
> When starting to create an internationalized site, one must 
> first give consideration to the various locales that need to 
> be considered. This will help to define the requirements for 
> the international framework. It is highly recommended to work 
> with native speaking people who are very familiar with the 
> regions and cultures that are part of your user demographic.
> Most importantly, the end user must understand that a page 
> has been localized. It is a good practice to indicate or 
> imply that the content has been formatted for their local 
> formats. This avoids questions and possible misinterpretations.
> Further information
> This Q&A provides only a few introductory points on this 
> topic. There are many books devoted to the topics of 
> internationalization and localization. Becoming familiar with 
> the styles and customs of other regions and properly 
> implementing these elements into a web site will ensure that 
> content is available to -- and truly understandable by -- a 
> larger audience. 
> Some of the standards typically used to create 
> internationalized web sites include the following:
> - XML [ www.w3.org/XML ] is the preferred markup language for 
> defining content. In addition to identifying the actual 
> content, it can also include attributes that further define 
> aspects of the content (such as language, grammar style, and 
> current format of the content). Other web languages (such as 
> XHTML) use these attributes to deliver the localized page 
> appropriate for the current user.
> - XHTML [ www.w3.org/MarkUp ] is the successor to HTML, and 
> is a markup language used to define web pages and  to 
> properly format and display XML content within them.
> - Unicode [ www.unicode.org ] is a numbered collection of the 
> characters of all of the languages in the world. Using this 
> standard ensures that the correct character will be 
> displayed, regardless of the browser or system.
> Properly utilizing these standards in a web site can ensure 
> that the concerns mentioned above are properly handled.
Received on Monday, 16 June 2003 14:38:58 UTC

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