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Internationalization of free software

by Georgia Young Contributions Published on Jan 13, 2017 02:47 PM
Internationalization is the process of designing software so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes.

Internationalization is a feature ethically tied to the values of free software, and is often a strength of free software. But we can do better: Free software can accept translation contributions from anyone who submits them, whereas proprietary software companies historically only bother with languages it serves their profit and other interests to include. When we internationalize free software, we make it easier for others to adapt and spread it in other languages and regions.

Ways to help

  • The GNU Project has internationalization recommendations for developers within its coding standards, as does the W3C for web development. If you're a developer, follow these guidelines as you work.
  • Looking for a freely licensed UI toolkit that will help you keep internationalization in mind? One option is GTK+.
  • Provide translations for free programs you use in languages you are familiar with, and help translate documentation.

This is just one item on the Free Software Foundation's High Priority Projects list.

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