All of the major lines of communication and sources of information in this century come from the Web. It is interesting to note that while there is a decline in the share of websites in English, the percentage of pages in any other language increases. Therefore, it seems obvious that ensuring success in today’s and tomorrow’s multilingual web environment is essential.
Echoing this, the Multilingual Web project aims to achieve best practices and standards related to the creation, localization and development of multilingual websites. The project is addressed to the existing best practices and standards to not only continue them, but improve them over time, and identifying those areas where there are gaps.
Therefore, W3C (World Wide Consortium for the Web) has planned to conduct a series of events over the next two years.
One that has already taken place was held in Madrid in late October last year, specifically at the Universidad Politécnica. It presented the public with the best practices and standards currently available that focus on helping to content creators, localizers, tool developers, etc.., to overcome the challenges of a multilingual website.
In this workshop, entitled “The Multilingual Web – Where Do We Stand?”, basically to share information about existing initiatives and to begin identifying those areas that present problems and for which there is no concrete solution.
One of the points that the presenters highlighted the most was the true knowledge of the subject as exhibited by the speakers and the excellent opportunity presented to establish networks.
In this event, after the typical keynote speech and overview of the topics to be addressed, there were different sessions:
* The session of developers, which focused on the latest developments of the W3C and the Specialist Group of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and various activities of localization (l18n) made by W3C, the Unicode Consortium and IETF; different tools also available at http://www.w3.org/International that can improve the testing of existing sites were shared. Several initiatives being undertaken to improve the user experience multilingual websites were then shared, including characters and fonts, forms of local data, IDNs and typographic support.
* The session of creators whose main themes were the character encoding and font support, in addition to the general tendency to use unicode, and that improved font support for unicode adoption is growing. It also highlighted the growing importance of the mobile Web and the fact that this platform has significant shortcomings with regard to multilingual support. It was recalled that “content” means not only web pages of text, but also voice and multimodal applications, or SMS.
* The session of localizers, where the best practices and standards to improve processes related to globalization were discussed, as well as how to integrate them in a more appropriate location in the process. The content is increasingly complex and changing, and the location needs to be adapted to meet the needs of multilingual web of the future.
* The session on machines, which emphasized their essential character in the development of a real multilingual web, because for the multilingual web user experience to be effective, interoperability between machines is fundamental. It also stressed the need for standardization of metadata related to the localization process and support the importance of semantic web technologies.
* The session of users, where they spoke on translation technology for Facebook and the social networks, followed by discussions about the translation process using the community in the massive outsourcing approach, and a strong need for multilingual content throughout the world was underscored, but the important technical and organizational challenges that stand in the way to reach people in continents like Africa and Asia were heavily stressed.
The truth is that this series of workshops are very interesting, complete and informative. The next will be held in Pisa, if you can make it you won’t regret it!