Coding for the world

In this blog series I would like to give you an insight on the importance of writing code that makes any of your users, anywhere in the world, a happy user. We are going to talk about money, recycling, clues, commotions, and lots more. First, though, I’d like to introduce some basic concepts relevant to global coding you might have always wondered about.

Differences between translation, localization, internationalization and globalization

Globalization, localization, translation, internationalization: you may have heard those buzz words. They all have one thing in common: code that is written with a global user base in mind. Code that is flexible and dynamic: localization-friendly.


Translation is the process of converting one written language to another language. Translation is all about text conversion. The translation needs to convey the meaning of the original language into the target language.


With localization, we transform a product into something that resonates with a specific culture. Best case scenario: The product feels like it was created in the local market. This can mean, in addition to translation, using a different color scheme or a different time format. Localization is basically translation while catering to the needs of the specific target market.


Internationalization involves building products with a global audience in mind so they can be easily adapted to launch in different national markets without the need to retouch the code, content or designs. Internationalization is basically the process of preparing products, services, and back ends for the expansion into global markets; for instance, implementing the correct functions to show the calendar format the user expects. Another common technique is to store all text strings in separate resource files, enabling the user experience to be translated while leaving the codebase untouched.


For Docusign, globalization means connecting with our customers around the world in different national markets and bringing people, cultures, and economies of different countries and regions closer together through our products. Globalization is the result of localization and internationalization: building and delivering products for the intended audience.

In the context of localization, you see mysterious letter-number-combinations L10N, T9N, I18N and G11N. Instead of writing the long words localization, translation, internationalization, and globalization, we replace the inner letters with a number representing the number of letters replaced. Mystery solved!

Enough with the basics. Let’s dive right into Part 1: Why should I care about localization?. We will have a new blog post every month; here is a sneak peek at what to expect.

Note: Thanks to Carlos Barbero-Cortés of Docusign for consultation and feedback.

Additional resources

Bettina Becker
Bettina Becker
Sr. Language Manager
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