(i18n, globalisation, enabling, software enabling) The process and philosophy of making software portable to other locales.
For successful localisation, products must be technically and culturally neutral. Effective internationalisation reduces the time and resources required for localisation, improving time-to-market abroad and allowing simultaneous shipment. In orther words, internationalisation abstracts out local details, localisation specifies those details for a particular locale.
Technically this may include allowing double-byte character sets such as unicode or Japanese, local numbering, date and currency formats, and other local format conventions.
It also includes the separation of user interface text e.g. in dialog boxes and menus. All the text used by an application may be kept in a separate file or directory, so that it can be translated all at once. User interfaces may require more screen space for text in other languages.
The simplest form of internationalisation may be to make use of operating system calls that format time, date and currency values according to the operating system's configuration.
The abbreviation i18n means "I - eighteen letters - N".