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The world is your playground – get your app ready to play!


Hi, my name is Bob Jung. I manage internationalization
at Google. We know language and culture
differ across the globe. Adapting your app correctly
is critical to providing a great user experience. But what does this
actually mean for software? First, let me demonstrate
how getting it wrong can be incredibly jarring. Suppose I gave this
talk speaking like Yoda. Bob Jung, i18n
Google Director I am. I18n what and how
about, I will talk. Did that sound strange? Maybe a bit hard to understand? Now, let’s look at a real
example that Google launched. A long time ago,
in a galaxy far, far away, Gmail
was still in beta. One of the setting UIs
concatenated preferences to form a sentence reading,
forward a copy of incoming mail to email address, and keep
Gmail’s copy in the Inbox. Seems feasible, right? Then we translated to Japanese. That translation has
the correct meaning, but sounded like
a Japanese Yoda. Something like, receive
messages to the following address forward mail address,
and copies in inbox keep. Because word order can be
very different for languages, a cardinal rule is to
never concatenate phrases. Now, let’s look at
a few other things that will help you
internationalize successfully. Many assume that
internationalization is just about translating all
the strings in the UI, but it’s really much, much more. It impacts back end, as
well as front end software. It affects the whole
software stack, including data storage and protocols;
formatting dates, times, numbers, and currency; entering
and displaying of text; sorting; displaying
bidirectional and right-to-left text for languages
like Arabic and Hebrew; local calendering
systems; and of course, your UI design and much more. And i18n is not
just implementing basic functionality correctly. You must design i18n
from the beginning. If you don’t plan ahead,
things are bound to go wrong. Now here’s an example where
Google failed to plan for i18n. Long ago, pre-YouTube, we had
a product called Google Video. That product launched
in the US, and didn’t worry about
internationalization. This diagram shows
the data paths for uploading, indexing,
and serving user videos. The product team told
us they used Unicode. So what possibly could go wrong? How about uploading
a Beyonce video? You’ll notice that she has
an accented E in her name. That accented E broke
every single data path for various reasons
relating to non-ASCII data. Some problems are hard to find. Some even corrupted user data. It took several
engineers many months to find and fix all these bugs. All of them could’ve been
avoided with correct design decisions, and using existing
programming techniques. Doing so would have
had very little impact on the original development
effort and schedule. So code to implement many
of these i18n features are provided by
libraries in APIs. Now, we don’t recommend that
you try to write these yourself. There’s a lot of
unobvious complexity. There’s no reason for you
to reinvent the wheel. The work has already
been done for you. Hundreds of
engineering staff years have gone into
their development. Massive amounts of
data for these APIs have been collected and vetted. Two key examples
are CLDR and ICU. CLDR contains tens of
megabytes of language and regional data that
drives the i18n APIs. Experts around
the world continue to compile and vet this data. This graph of CLDR data
shows the amazing growth of that data over
the past 10 years. So it would be very difficult
to replicate this on your own. Tried, true, and trusted. ICU is a mature,
widely adopted library, with quite extensive features. It’s embedded in
Android, Chrome, and other companies’ platforms. Because it underpins
APIs on these platforms, you might be using
ICU indirectly. And it’s open source, it’s
free to anyone to use. It’s used by major companies
and major products. And here are a few of those. Besides ICU and CLDR, there
are just many more tools to help your i18n efforts. Now, besides APIs, your
apps need platform support to display text in
your users’ languages. Google has developed
the Noto font family, which covers hundreds
of languages. Noto is embedded in the
Android and Chrome OS. It’s also open
source, so it can be used by any other
platform or app. The platforms also
provide input services that let your apps get
input from your users in their own languages. There’s keyboards for alphabetic
language– Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Korean, and more. Gesture for swiping, emoji,
virtual cloud-based keyboards, and of course,
handwriting and voice. Now, as I mentioned,
i18n touches nearly all your software stack. Make sure you test it all. But I want to mention
one very useful tool. Before you spend your money
and your valuable time translating your app, how do
you know it’s going to work? Some of you may have had the
experience of getting back a translation that was
just a mess because of hard coded strings, broken
UI layouts, and problems with displaying
non-ASCII characters. Pseudo-localization
automatically creates fake translations. These allow you
to test and debug without knowing
another language. The strings are
transformed to expose some of the problems
I just mentioned, but they’re still
readable to you. Now here, the string,
“Share what’s new,” was made longer by adding,
“one, two, three,” to the end. All the ASCII
characters are converted to similar-looking
non-ASCII characters. Now you don’t need to know
German, or some other language, to test and debug your app. And the tools will automatically
pseudo-localize all the strings in your UI to help you find
those problems– the hard coded strings and UI layout problems. Now, if you look
closely at this example, it found a real problem. In Google+, you could see that
the icons were being clipped by that long text. On the right side, you’ve
lost the side of those icons. Now, once you’ve completed
all this– design for i18n, used the APIs, and tested your
app, you’re ready to translate. The process is
pretty well known. You extract the resources and
send them for translation, rebuild the localized
apps, test, and repeat. Now Google provides a simple
and streamlined process for Android and Chrome apps. This is covered in a
related Google I/O talk. Check out, “The world
is your playground– go global with Google.” To get your app ready
for global users, make sure you visit these
links to learn more. I hope this video
will help you produce some great apps for the world.

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