Blog internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n)
I will post a series of probably long messages to my blog, regarding i18n and l10n of blogs. Many people has written about blog i18n, as for example Blojsom.com" . But I hope to clarify some points mainly from myself, before going on introducing a very modest Coreblog l10n project of my own...
First of all, definitions.
- Internationalization. The process of planning and developing products so that they can be changed to meet the requirements of specific local languages and cultures.
- Localization is the actual preparing of data (or the software) for a particular language or locale.
For example the Zope product Plone is i18n aware and has localization for several languages. These terms are also spelled internationalisation and localisation, and shortened in the geek terms i18n and l10n, which are formed by the first and last letter of the word and the number of letters in between.
In the realm of blogging software and bloggers, i18n attempts are (probably) restricted to blogging software producers or online blogging account providers. One day or another, all of them will reach to that point: let's do i18n (as an example, here is the recent resolve of the creator of WordPress.
In the case of free software blogging machines, bloggers with a technical background can in turn re-arrange the original code to make personal i18n attempts, for personal use or re-release following the original license.
In turn, l10n is a more open process. If a software producer makes an i18n version of their blogging software, they nay be able to release different products. Let's suppose the blogging software SuperInternationalBlog by SuperInternational Co. is internationalized. Then they may release:
- SuperInternationalBlog in Spanish - SuperInternationalBlog in Arabic - SuperInternationalBlog ... - SuperInternationalBlog intl' version with a default
Englishskin but with options and instructions for users to create their localised version.
People may download different versions of SuperInternationalBlog , and also develop new ones. A wide arrange of l10n efforts may result from that.
And then, there is a company EnglishSoft Co. that has released EnglishBlog with no i18n attempt at all, and just as an English version. In this case, it is also possible that localized version of EnglishBlog may arise. How?
- Users will personalize EnglishBlog as they can, to create a blog in their language.
So, localised blogs may be created both with SuperInternationalBlog and with EnglishBlog. Obviously, SuperInternationalBlog users have more opportunities to create good blogs than EnglishBlog users...
However, the quality of i18n achieved by SuperInternational Co. will affect the output of different attempts.
Not all i18n attempts resolve well locale-sensitive issues like date-time formatting, character sets or directionality of script. So, having some SuperInternationalBlog out there does not assure that l10n may be done correctly.
In turn, even the most simple of EnglishBlog-like machines will permit some personalization in skins or so on, and therefore, a localised simple version of EnglishBlog is probably easy to achieve. And then, there's this option for most users: no matter which language is the one that appears at my blogging software, I will post in my language.
Things that are important to assess
We may say that blog i18n will be all the more accurate if a given effort complies with:
- The sustainabality of l10n efforts. When the software updates, what happens to users' particular localized blogs? Their l10n's will update at the same level?
- The possibility to share l10n results is also important. Some software developers may ask their users to contribute their l10n
packages(be them string collections, skins, or whatever) to a central repository: this practice has very different results in free or propietary software, I guess... Other systems may permit a user-to-user interaction where l10n
packagesmay be shared, with no original developer intervening in that. Probably some l10n trials, however, are too hardcoded in one instance and are difficult to share.
- Standardization of l10n procedures. If localized strings are stored in .po files, then translations may be shared between different systems, translation memory may be used... .po files are a standard format in the GNU Gettext i18n/l10n framework.
- The real web effect of Blog software i18n is mostly localized monolingual blogs in a given language. But if i18n also permits to develop multilingual or bilingual blogs, a blog that can be at the same time in English and in Japanese, for instance, that's a step ahead.