Internationalizing web applications using gettext in PHP

As I have said before, gettext is a very interesting framework for i18n and i10n.

Now the question is, how do I apply this to web applications? Actually, I'm going to restrict my discussion here to PHP since this is what I'm working with right now... but you should expect similar behaviour when using other web development tools that integrate gettext.

First of all, the good news: PHP fully supports gettext since version 3.0.7. So it's been used for a long time and you can even find tutorials on the net.

PHP/Gettext in action

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Introducing gettext and .PO files

poedit screenshot
As I said recently, i18n and l10n are best carried out using the right tools...

I've looked around somewhat and it turns out there seems to be an absolute reference in the area: the GNU gettext framework.

This framework actually comprehends several things:

  • A set of conventions about how programs should be written to support i18n;
  • A directory and file naming organization for the translated strings;
  • A runtime library to display localized text;
  • A set of utilities to handle the l10n process;
  • A special mode for Emacs which helps preparing the sources for i18n.

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Introducing i18n and l10n

When you develop a piece of software or a website up to a certain point, there comes a time when you try to reach an international audience.


No doubt your first move will be to provide an English version of your software or website.


However, you will soon realize this is not enough. Of course, many people do understand English to some extent; but you have to realize how painful it can be for them. Maybe you don't even realize how easily you can understand English compared to the average. Of course, if you are yourself a native English speaker, you need to try and imagine that every software you use comes in French or German by default! How would you feel about that? :P


Furthermore, you may have spent some time on making your software or website accessible. Users can now change the font size and enhance contrast if they have trouble reading those lines of funky rendered text... That's fine... but what's the use if their problem is not with the formatting but with the language!? :?:

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What is RDF?

by Tim Bray

MagpieRSS

MagpieRSS provides an XML-based (expat) RSS parser in PHP.

MagpieRSS is compatible with RSS .9 through RSS 1.0, and supports the
RSS 1.0's modules (with a few exceptions).