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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Google Approach to Internationalization

I live in Brussels, Belgium, and thus every time I access any webpage, the server has a hard time guessing what language I want that page to be in. If you were the server, here are a couple of sane ways you could make up your mind:
  • Trust the HTTP Accept-Language request header and serve the page in English.
  • Notice that the request was originally sent to and serve the page in English.
  • Notice that the originating IP address is from Brussels, where 85% of residents are French-speakers, and serve the page in French.
  • If request is made during working hours, acknowledge that the user isn't especially likely to live in Brussels proper, and pick at random between Dutch, English or French.

Alternatively, you could ignore the fact that good solutions even exist, rest on the fact that 59% of Belgians speak Dutch, and use this as an opportunity to plug your browser's translation service.

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