Beyond localization, there is internationalization (abbreviated as I18N, localization is L10N). Internationalization implies one system designed to respond to requests in large numbers of languages and locales. It describes a web site that can adapt to different requirements like text expansion, date/time presentations, and number and currency formatting. An internationalized web site can work in multiple languages and the cultural contexts of different locales, without having to redesign the basic elements for each locale. It is a web site that is built on a multilingual engine. Sites must be internationalized before being localized. Today, globalization is a more popular and broader term for the same fundamental technology problem and its solutions, but with emphasis on the impact of the web site on the whole business.

Globalization (G11N) is built on top of an internationalized web site. In the translation/localization business marketplace, it refers to the whole problem of making any product or service global, with simultaneous release in all markets. Web site globalization means more than just making one web site respond to the different language and regional requirements of the browser. Globalized companies may opt for coordinated web sites in all their markets. Globalization describes the process by which the web itself becomes the principal tool controlling site development, maintenance updates, and behind the pages workflow. Globalization systems are engineered to provide a comprehensive framework for cost-effective multilingual site development and maintenance - incorporating overseas offices, consultants, translators, in near real-time site management.

Globalization is sometimes achieved by neutralizing the cultural elements, but superior global sites are those that enrich the cultural elements appropriately in each locale. That means allowing maximum flexibility to local company representatives or freelance translators working in each locale, while maintaining brand integrity and consistency of message.

The World Wide Web can be accessed by users from just about any place in the world. But the language barrier limits real communication to the developed countries. For the web to be truly global it must operate in the languages, business practices, and cultures of its users. Over half these users are outside the US. By 2005, they are forecast to comprise 700 million of an estimated one billion users. And by 2007, Chinese users will be the largest single language group.

Leading globalizers use advanced content management database tools to distribute the translation workflow to their partner localizers and freelance translators around the world. Some may integrate advanced language technologies like machine translation and translation memory, but the principal new ingredient is managing workflow using the web for every step in the process - page designs, content creation, requests for quotations, budgeting, resource allocation, task assignments, scheduling, approvals, reviews, billings, etc., and finally timed synchronized publishing of web pages world wide.

Differences between globalization companies can be significant, depending on their business backgrounds. Some are top localization firms, some computer technologists applying their skills in a new area. They also differ in how they break up the globalization problem and which tools they use to accomplish the details. Finally, they have different sales models. Some want to provide only services, at their place or at yours. Some want to sell you technology and train you to use it.

Most of them use some form of content management system (also known as a web publishing system) for the web pages themselves. They may partner with leading content management companies like Vignette or Interwoven, or they may have built their own system.

Questions to ask to differentiate them include

  • Do they design for one site or several?
  • Do they keep all the content in a database, or can they also manage content in file systems?
  • Is the database proprietary or can it run with a standard RDBMS system like Oracle.
  • Do they provide only a development and staging environment, or is their solution for production web servers?
  • Do they provide for translation memory tools integration?
  • - for machine translation integration?
  • - for major content management system integration - Vignette, etc.?
  • - for automatic detection of web site changes?
  • Do they want to host their solution on their site, or can you run it at your own site or an ISP?
  • Do they provide translation services?
  • Do they partner with big localization firms?
  • Do they provide reports of usage in all locales?

Our Open Internet Lexicon litmus test for their technology is to look at their own sites. Are they comprehensively and intuitively multilingual? Surprisingly, very few of the large companies boasting globalization technology have web sites that respond to a browser request in a language other than English. Set your browser to another language (here's how) and navigate to some of the companies below.

There are 139 two-letter language codes in ISO 639 and 239 country codes in ISO 3166. An expanded list of three-letter language codes is available at GlossPost. So there can be a very large number of locales. Probably 50 of them account for 98% of web activity today. Will web globalization technologies be able to handle them all?

Globalization Companies

e-Translate eTranslate GlobalLink is a Web-based localization management system that allows companies to tap into eTranslate's worldwide network of multilingual specialists. It streamlines the content localization process by automating tasks that otherwise would be time-consuming, costly and prone to human error. Localize content in dozens of languages simultaneously through a single operation. Multiple users can access content at any time while performing their roles from anywhere within the company without the need to install a custom client, mount remote file systems, or configure database connections. GlobalLink automates content submission, translation, event notification, and tracking processes, which reduces the project management resources needed to create and maintain a multilingual Web site. In-country experts can access projects through the Internet around the world. GlobalLink supports most major file formats, and can access content from file systems, databases, and content management systems. UniSite. Using your existing Web site as a starting point, UniSite scans your site, moving the tagged content into a database. As your site is modified, UniSite detects content changes and allows distributed users to collaborate in reviewing, editing, approving and publishing updated content. Content identified for translation is automatically routed to a pre-integrated machine translation module, or distributed to a translation firm for customized translation, ensuring your site remains synchronized across all languages. UniSite is available as a software service through a low-cost monthly subscription, and your site can be globalized in as little as one week, without incurring expensive, time-consuming consulting fees.
GlobalSight GlobalSight System 3 includes the Content Exchange Engine and Content Adaptation Platform, a scalable, extensible, open standards-based design with advanced linguistic technologies including translation memory and page memory. An offline option includes integration with third-party translation tools and memory. Configurable workflow management and a WYSIWYG localization environment. can manage Web content in both file systems and databases. Runs exclusively within the development environment, so no modifications to the production environment are necessary. Partner with industry leaders such as Interwoven, BroadVision, and Vignette. Unicode enabled, and supports double-byte character languages. Software solution deployed by enterprises (runs on your site)
Idiom Technologies The Idiom World Server is software for automating and synchronizing multilingual, multicultural web sites. It enables site contributors to work collaboratively regardless of their location. It helps to establish rules for how content is to move from central sites to local sites. Once rules and links are in place, as sites change WorldServer ensures proper translation or adaptation according to the business rules. Includes translation memory. Tools are accessible from browers or Windows clients. They parse the web pages, separating translatable content from tags, keeping translators from the HTML code and minimizing their need to know HTML. WorldServer leverages existing content management facilities or application servers to present original and translated pages to users and translators in their web page context.
Language Automation, Inc. The WebPlexer system is a combination of integrated software modules and customizable translation services that work together to simplify the development, operation, translation and maintenance of a multilingual Web site. It is designed to multilingual-enable an existing Web site, while preserving an investment in content and structure. It automatically adds easy-to-use language navigation features to the site, making it easy for visitors to find information in their language. The Workflow Manager identifies, orchestrates and coordinates the translation of content, when changes are made to the site, with a detailed audit trail of the update process. A logging manager precisely pinpoints what languages and documents site visitors are requesting, making it easy to decide what content and how much of it should be translated.
SDL International SDL WebFlow is a multilingual content management system. The challenge of the next round of evolution of Web Sites is to put as much control as possible into the hands of the content creators rather than the Web Site administrators. The challenge for many companies is keeping their English and foreign language sites fully synchronized. WebFlow automates the detection of content changes. Over TCP/IP, the WebFlow server uses the SDLX TM system to separate formatting code from translatable content. The system manages the interaction between various project stages automatically, and uploads finished translations to the website instantaneously. Their Site, Your Site, or ISP (3rd party) Site.
Uniscape Globalization Infrastructure (Uniscape GI) is an award-winning ASP-based localization platform used by e-businesses to localize multilingual Web content and manage the deployment of multilingual content across a network of globalized sites.Including an XML-powered software agent that resides on a company's corporate web sites, it recognizes changes in web content, initiates localization of multilingual content, and updates the pages when completed. A centralized multilingual repository and workflow automation increases the speed and quality of translation, reduces translation costs and streamlines project management. Uniscape GM Globalization Manager manages globalization activity updates across multiple, multilingual sites and integrates effortlessly with enterprise content management systems such as Vignette, Interwoven, Documentum, Open Market, NCompass Labs, Percussion, InfoWorks and others. Uniscape can be integrated with a company's existing automated workflow systems, or they can utilize's workflow.
Wholetree TranServer allows for the rapid exchange of data between customers and translators. The server receives files for translation from SiteTrak or other means, analyzes the content and language required, then automatically routes the project via the Internet to the most appropriate human translator available to perform the high quality translation. This proprietary server system provides instant links to 2,000 in-country native-speaking human translators (plus the Lernout& Hauspie worldwide network of 10,000 translators. L&H is a major investor.). Uses a combination of machine translation gists (L&H engine) and human translation. Gists are to gain a general understanding of an incoming foreign email. To respond to foreign customers, to translate Web pages, or marketing materials, human translators provide high quality translations.

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