Friday, 18 December 2009

On Wednesday I gave a presentation on IDNs to UCISA-NG (Universities & Colleges Information Systems Association - Networking Group) Committee. The following is a short article I have written for the UCISA Newsletter.

Internationalisation (i18n) is on the Agenda

André 小山 Schappo - Loughborough University

Internationalisation is on the agenda and now is a golden opportunity to turn aspirations into reality in the IT domain. There are many aspects of IT that can be internationalised. This brief article will focus primarily on Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs).

Loughborough has a set of fully functioning IDNs in several languages/scripts. These include:

http://ラフバラ大学.com/ - Loughborough University Japanese IDN
http://拉夫堡学生会.cn/ - Loughborough Student Union Simplified Chinese IDN

The complete list of Loughborough IDNs can be viewed at

I term these PIDNs, that is, Partial Internationalised Domain Names because the TLD is still ASCII. During 2010 there will be some ccTLD FIDNs, Fully Internationalised Domain Names. 拉夫堡学生会.cn will become 拉夫堡学生会.中国 where 中国 means China. In actuality, 拉夫堡学生会.中国 already works but not when using the ICANN Root Servers.

The implementation of internationalised gTLDs is longer term but we will probably see them in 2011. My considered prediction is that .com will be .公司 in Chinese and .コム in Japanese.

Registering IDNs is straight forward and inexpensive. At Loughborough ラフバラ we use as our Registrar for IDNs. Currently, not all Registrars are IDN aware or capable.

Along with Loughborough Students, one of my current activities is the development of AI (Adaptive Internationalised) websites. These websites adapt content according to: language of the IDN used to access the website, browser preferred display language, Region and Date. So, for example, one of the adaptations is display of prices in the currency of the Region of the visiting browser.

With commitment and imagination the opportunities for internationalisation of IT are limitless and boundless.

TLD ⇄ Top Level Domain
ccTLD ⇄ country code TLD eg jp, uk, cn
gTLD ⇄ generic TLD eg com, net, org