Unicode Applied to Web Internationalization: Does it really help?
Lloyd Honomichl - Lionbridge Internationalization Group
I spent about ten years preaching the value of Unicode to my previous employer, Novell. Once a large organization has decided to use Unicode, you spend most of your time teaching developers how to implement Unicode support and relatively little espousing its benefits. You donıt have to "sell" it.
I then joined Lionbridge and have done Internationalization Consulting for a wide variety of smaller companies. Most of our customers have been web-based businesses looking to add international support to their sites or products. These smaller companies tend to be more focused on cost and speed of deployment, not necessarily on creating the prettiest architecture. Hence, if we recommend Unicode as part of a internationalization plan, we have to be able to present a convincing case that it is not just "neato", but also the best option and yields quick payoffs. Itıs not unusual to make an initial visit to a customer and be told "We want this done by the end of next month." Under these conditions does adding Unicode support result in a measurable advantage? When you have to "sell" Unicode, can you justify it?
This paper will review real-world experiences of the last 18 months with a number of actual customers. We will examine some of the obstacles and solutions found while internationalizing their web sites. We will show that, in nearly all cases, deploying Unicode saves time and money, even with the shortest deadlines and tightest budgets.
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13 December 2000, Webmaster