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Overview of Globalization and Localization

Visual Studio .NET 2003

In the past, the term localization often referred to a process that began after an application developer compiled the source files in the original language. Another team then began the process of reworking the source files for use in another language. The original language, for example, might be English, and the second language might be German. That approach, however, is prohibitively expensive and results in inconsistencies among versions. It has even caused some customers to purchase the original-language version instead of waiting months for the localized version. A more cost effective and functional model divides the process of developing world-ready applications into three distinct parts, globalization, localizability, and localization.

The primary advantages of designing and implementing your application to be sensitive and appropriate to regional conventions, data in a variety of world languages, and alternate format are:

  • You can launch your application onto the market more rapidly. No additional development is necessary to localize an application once the initial version is complete.
  • You use resources more efficiently. Implementing world-readiness as part of the original development process requires fewer development and testing resources than if you add the support after the initial development work starts. Furthermore, if you add world-readiness to your finished application, you might make it less stable, compounding problems that you could have resolved earlier.
  • Your application is easier to maintain. If you build the localized version of your application from the same set of sources as the original version, only isolated modules need localization. Consequently, it is easier and less expensive to maintain code while including world-readiness. The key to this aspect of designing software rests in using resource files for the localized versions of the application.

In This Section

Provides a brief description of globalization.
Provides a brief description of localizability.
Provides a brief description of localization.

Related Sections

Planning World-Ready Applications
Provides guidance on planning and developing world-ready applications.
Globalizing and Localizing Applications
Explains how to build world-ready applications in Visual Basic and Visual C#.
International Programming
Describes globalization and localization of Visual C++ applications.
Developing World-Ready Applications
Describes globalization and localization of applications using the .NET Framework.
Visual Studio .NET Partner Resources Site (
Provides a link to Visual Studio .NET Localization Partners who can assist you with your application localization needs.