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Introduction to i18n
Chapter 1 - About This Document


1.1 Scope

This document describes the basic ideas of I18N; it's written for programmers and package maintainers of Debian GNU/Linux and other UNIX-like platforms. The aim of this document is to offer an introduction to the basic concepts, character codes, and points where care should be taken when one writes an I18N-ed software or an I18N patch for an existing software. There are many know-hows and case-studies on internationalization of softwares. This document also tries to introduce the current state and existing problems for each language and country.

Minimum requirements - for example, that characters should be displayed with fonts of the proper charset (users of the software must be able to at least guess what is written), that characters must be inputed from keyboard, and that softwares must not destroy characters - are stressed in the document. I am trying to describe a HOWTO to satisfy these requirements.

This document is strongly related to programming languages such as C and standardized I18N methods such as using locales and gettext.


1.2 New Versions of This Document

The current version of this document is available at DDP (Debian Documentation Project) page.

Note that the author rewrote this document in November 2000.

Since then, Debian had several releases and its packages support I18N better with their supports of UTF-8. This document does not cover these new developments but is kept here since this helps understandings of fundamental I18N issues.


1.3 Feedback and Contributions

This document needs contributions, especially for a chapter on each languages (Characters in Each Country, Chapter 5) and a chapter on instances of I18N (Examples of I18N, Chapter 13). These chapters consist of contributions.

Otherwise, this will be a document only on Japanization, because the original author Tomohiro KUBOTA (kubota@debian.org, retired DD and this is not a working e-mail address any more) speaks Japanese and live in Japan.

Spanish language / used in Spain, most of America and Equatorial Guinea, Section 5.2 is written by Eusebio C Rufian-Zilbermann eusebio@acm.org.

Discussions are held at debian-devel@lists.debian.org and debian-i18n@lists.debian.org mailing list. Please contact debian-doc@lists.debian.org if you wish to update this document.


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Introduction to i18n

29 July 2014

Tomohiro KUBOTA debian at tmail dot plala dot or dot jp (retired DD)