How to Internationalize Your .NET Application

Internationalization in .NET is a phenomenon which allows the use of .NET framework for developing cross cultural applications in different languages and for different regions of world. In different words it provides techniques to build global friendly applications which are meant for global audience. Writing the code which is internationalized is a need today and it also improve maintainability and flexibility.

A fundamental concept related to internationalization is locale which represents the country or region specific conventions relevant to the user.

A region has its own representation of measurement system and currency. Also the formatting of date and time varies from one place to other. In order to determine the locale of a region, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has specified RFC- 1766. It is a convention which describes the locale in “language code-country/region” format. .NET follows this convention too.

Another important concept for implementing the internationalization in .NET is the use of CultureInfo class. These classes are contained in System.Globalization namespace and contain the culture specific information like date and time formatting rules, calendars, number formatting etc.

Example of one such class is Calendar. Calendar implementations are done for a wide range of regions like there is GregorianCalendar, KoreanCalendar, PersianCalendar, JapaneseCalendar and many more. Other examples of these classes are CompareInfo and CultureInfo which represent the culture specific string comparison methods and information about a specific locale respectively.

For creating international applications based on .NET framework you can use Visual studio. In Visual Studio there are two steps involved. In first step you need to create applications which are adjustable to different cultures.

Next step involves the translation of application and resources with respect to a specific culture. These two steps are also referred as globalization and localization respectively.

There are four types of namespaces in .NET framework for globalization and localization of applications and resources.

First is System.Globalization which is discussed earlier that its classes contain culture related information.

Second one is System.Resources.Tools which contains classes supporting for strongly typed resources.

Then there is System.Resources which consists of classes and interfaces for managing culture related information in an application.

Finally there is System.Text namespace having the classes which represent ASCII, Unicode and UTF-7 character encoding.

So for developing international applications for world audience in .NET, classes from these namespaces should be used. These techniques are used for creating both window forms as well as web applications.

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