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# Wednesday, 15 June 2005
It took me ages to understand the fundamentals of internationalization, (man-) language interoperability etc. In fact, only after working on MFC software over a year I encountered a problem so fundamentally accute I couldn't for the life of me figure it out, and it took a bitchslap from my friend Ilya (Konstantinov) to make me halt and figure the problem out properly.

Internationalization is hard. Perhaps its hardest aspect is support for the various languages; each language has its own character set, and although most widely-used languages derive from the basic latin alphabet there are still subtle differences. German makes extensive use of accented characters (é and ü for example); Czech makes use of the relatively unknown caron (č) and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the thoroughly different requirements of Arabic and Hebrew: complex script languages that are not only written right-to-left, but employ a completely seperate alphabet with different requirements. For example, did you know there are two ways to write several letters in the Hebrew alphabet, depending on their location (middle or end of a word), but those versions of the same letter have the same semanthics? Or maybe you've run into the latin letter Eth (Ð), which to my knowledge only exists today in Icelandic?

Finally, to the point: if you've ever received an e-mail with question marks instead of words, entered a website in your native language but got gibberish instead or perhaps (for the more astute) wondered how it is possible to display text from so many different languages on one document (web site...), you're not alone. Most programmers are completely unaware of these fundamental issues, and cause massive headaches to users and fellow programmers alike. I've come across an article Joel Spolsky wrote back in 2003 with an absurdly long name; no matter: finally someone (certainly with more credability than myself) has taken it upon himself to write a thorough introduction to the subject for people - developers in particular, but the technically savvy among you might also be entertained - who do not realize its importance. Please, please please go and read it before you go on with your daily lives.

Wednesday, 15 June 2005 15:23:13 (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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