10 Internationalization and localization

In order to adapt to the increasing globalization of the internet, as developers, we may sometimes need to build multilingual, international web applications. This means that some pages will appear in different languages according to user regions, and perhaps the UI and UX will also be adapted to show different effects based on local holidays or culture. For example at runtime, the application will be able to recognize and process requests coming from different geographical regions and render pages in the local dialect or display different user interface. As competent developers, we don't want to have to manually modify our application's source code to cater to every possible region out there. When an application needs to add support for a new language, we should be able to simply drop in the appropriate language pack and be done with it.

In this section, we'll be talking about internationalization and localization (usually expressed as i18n and L10N, respectively). Internationalization is the process of designing applications that are flexible enough to be served to multiple regions around the world. In some ways, we can think of internationalization as something that helps to facilitate localization, which is the adaptation of a web application's content and design to suit the language or cultural needs of specific locales.

Currently, Go's standard package does not provide i18n support, but there are some useful and relatively simple third-party implementations available. In this chapter, we'll be using the open-source "go-i18n" library to support internationalization in our examples.

When we talk about making our web applications "international", we mean that each web page should be constructed with locale specific information and assembled with the corresponding local strings, time and currency formats, etc. This involves three things:

  1. how to determine the user's locale.

  2. how to save strings or other information associated with the locale.

  3. how to embed strings and other information according to the user's locale.

In the first section, we'll describe how to detect and set the correct locale in order to allow website users access to their language specific pages. The second section describes how to handle or store strings, currencies, times, dates and other locale related information. Finally, the third section will describe how to internationalize your web application; more specifically, we'll discuss how to return different pages with locale appropriate content. Through these three sections, we'll be able to support full i18n in our web applications.

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