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Internationalization of Facebook Open Graph Apps

There’s no denying that Facebook is a global phenomenon that is more than just a fad. It has changed the way people communicate, share information, and become informed about news in the world. Facebook estimates that over 75% of its user base is outside the US, making it essential for brands to be able to communicate across borders to create the same interactive flair for both US and non-US users.

In a recent blog post from Facebook developer Maximilian Machedon on internationalizing open graph apps, he makes it clear that after their f8 conference was taken on the road to Europe and Asia, continued developer success would be driven on internationalization support. Machedon goes on to say that, “thinking about user experience and internationalization from a global perspective can have a significant impact on how, and how much, your app is used.”

Facebook’s i18n Framework

For internationalizing Facebook applications, the original app must be developed in English. When the app is created, it’s Open Graph actions are extracted for translation. The established framework for Facebook applications allows for easy string extraction in that the locations of strings that need to be localized is already known (there are only so many places that user messages show up in Facebook; it’s a controlled experience).

String Translation

Prior to translation, developers must specify which locales are supported with their application so that the Open Graph can return the strings specific to the required locales. This is done through meta tags within the code. After locales are selected and strings are externalized for translation, developers can select from a number of Facebook’s translation tools to use. By default, apps are enabled to allow users to translate strings within an app without the help of a developer. Otherwise, the developer can select to use a translation app through the development panel provided by Facebook.

End Result

After translations are approved as being appropriate and clear, an app is ready to be viewed in its internationalized form by users in non-english locales. For strings left out or not supported by the i18n framework, the end user will see the original English string. Taking the steps to internationalize an app is an important factor to success for Facebook applications.

More Info on Facebook Internationalization

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