Internationalization and localization both are way to adapt things for non-native environment, mostly other nations.
Though uncommon, sometimes internationalization is abbreviated as I18N (the '18' stands for the 18 letters missed out) as L10N is an abbreviation for localization: the 10 stands for the 10 inner letters that have been suppressed.
Subjects that they need to cover include:
- date/time format (UTC in internationalized environments)
- language (alphabets, numerals and left-to-right Vs. right-to-left) (Unicode).
- names and titles
- SSN and passports
- telephone numbers, addresses and international postal codes
- weights and measures.
The distinction between internationalization and localization is often subtle but important to notice. As internationalization is to adapt things to be used in virtually everywhere, localization is to put special features for local use. Subjects unique to localization include:
- language translation
- special support for certain languages such as East Asian languages
- local customs
- local contents
- cultural values and social context
Also, as an alternative to economic globalization, localization has been used to describe the process of concentrating production of goods nearer their end-users, rather than wherever the lowest costs are. The idea is to cut down environmental and other external costs that can occur with the extra transportation and regional specialisation that globalization encourages.
Since free software can be freely modified and redistributed it is also more apt to be internationalized. Most proprietary software is not translated into languages that are not considered to be economically viable. An example of a project that has been translated into over 70 languages is KDE .