Localization is the process of adapting software to meet the requirements of local markets and different languages. Internationalization is the process of designing an application so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes. Localized applications should reflect correct cultural and linguistic conventions that the target market uses. Localization and internationalization make it possible for you to create a localized version of your software.

BlackBerry® devices are sold all over the world and BlackBerry device applications are translated into over 30 languages, including languages that are not based on a Latin alphabet. Some BlackBerry devices also feature a localized keyboard. Early in the design process, consider whether your application requires localization. If your application does not require localization now, consider designing your application so that it would be easy to localize it in the future.

Best practice: Designing applications for different languages and regions

Guidelines for layout

  • Leave enough space in your UI for translated text. The height and the width of text might expand when translated from English to other languages. For labels and other short text strings, prepare for up to 200% expansion. For lengthy text (more than 70 characters), prepare for up to 40% expansion. Where possible, place labels above the associated field. Leave blank space at the end of each label.
    Figure 1. Example text in English
    This screen shows an example of a wireless service provider therme.
    Figure 2. Example text in German
    This screen shows example text in German.
  • Provide options for the direction that text appears. In some languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, text displays from right to left but numbers and words in other languages display from left to right. For example, users type passwords in English so those characters display from left to right.
  • Make arrangements for displaying the position of a contact's title, full name, and address on a per-language basis. These items display in a different order, depending on the language (for example, title, first name, last name, or last name, first name, title). In some countries, the zip/postal code can appear before the name of the city and contain letters as well as numbers.
  • If users have the option to change display languages, display the name of the language in that language. For example, display "Italiano" instead of "Italian."
  • Test translated UI to verify the layout of the UI.
  • During testing, type a pangram in the target language. A pangram is a sentence that uses each character in the alphabet. Pangrams are useful because they include diacritics which could appear above, below, or beside a character.

Guidelines for color and graphics

  • Be aware that colors, graphics, and symbols can have different meanings in different cultures. If you are designing an application for a specific market, carefully consider the cultural implications of your design choices.
  • Avoid text and numbers in icons and images because they require localization.
  • If you include graphics in your application, make sure that the graphics are localized. For example, in Arabic, question mark icons are mirror images of question mark icons used in English.

    This screen shows an example of a question mark icon in Arabic.

  • For languages that display from right to left, make sure that icons align along the right side of the screen.
  • Include tooltips for all icons. Even within one culture, some icons might not be recognized by everyone.
  • Avoid using national flags to identify languages, user IDs, or countries. Use text instead.

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