This SIG provides a forum for discussing issues relating to the internationalization of Python.
At the time of writing (March 2000), internationalization (henceforth spelled as "i18n" to save typing) features are being added to Python. This sig is the primary forum for discussing those features. Topics covered include but are not limited to:
- Unicode support and building a library of codecs
- Support for locale information, date, number and time formatting
- Frameworks for translating and localizing GUI and Web applications
The immediate deliverables relate to Unicode and encoding support; the other topics above are too general and application-specific.
- Test the new Unicode features and supplied single-byte codecs as soon as the Unicode patch moves into public CVS (Q2 2000)
- Assist with documentation of the new features (Q2/Q3 2000)
- Do some prototype implementations of double-byte codecs. On the basis of this, determine what changes and additions, if any, are needed to the Unicode API at the C level support professional i18n work, and help get these into the core in time for 1.6. (Q2 2000)
- Thereafter, begin implementing a full set of codecs supporting most of the world's languages. (Q3-4 2000 and ongoing)
In mid-1999, Python consortium members made some strong requests for i18n features to be added to Python. Following discussions on the python-dev list, CNRI contracted Marc-Andre Lemburg to add Unicode strings and the associated changes to the Python core (based on a running Unicode string implementation from Fredrik Lundh), and Fredrik Lundh to develop a Unicode- based regex engine. These tasks are nearing completion and will shortly be released into public CVS.
The specification on which these are based can be found at http://starship.python.net/crew/lemburg/unicode-proposal.txt. (Now also in the Python 2.0 distribution as Misc/unicode.txt.)
The proposal defines a 'codec' interface, but implementing codecs for multi-byte languages is out of Marc-Andre's scope and will be left to members of the SIG.
There was an i18n forum at the Eighth International Python Conference, at which the above deliverables were agreed, and the SIG was formed as a result of this.
Key People and Organisations Involved
If you can help out n a specific way and feel you should be listed in here, please contact Andy Robinson with a brief bio. This list is a first draft and omits many key people on the sig, but you'll have to tell me about yourself to get listed!
- Marc-André Lemburg
- Implementing the core Unicode features
- Fredrik Lundh, Secret Labs AB
- Implementing the Unicode regex engine
- Andy Robinson, ReportLab Inc.
- SIG Moderator; Japanese speaker, and worked on Japanese conversion in Python for the past year at a mutual fund company. ReportLab (http://www.reportlab.com/) are developing multilingual PDF reporting tools and need to implement full support for Asian writing systems later this year.
- Brian Takashi Hooper, Digital Garage
- Digital Garage are a consulting and internet services firm based in Tokyo with over 70 employees. They have implemented their own codecs for Japanese in the past and have a pressing need for Japanese support in Python.
- Hewlett Packard
- HP are members of the Python consortium and pushed initially for the Unicode work for Python to assist with their global eSpeak program.
- Christian Wittern
- Christian is a sinologist based in Taiwan and can assist with Chinese-related issues.
Resources and Links
Thanks to Peter Funk for kicking off this list:
- Martin von Loewis' "Internationalizing Python" paper, given at the 6th International Python Conference, 1997, is a great place to get an overviw of the issues onvolved.
- The Python Unicode Proposal itself.
- Python Unicode Tutorial, by Andy Robinson.
- The Unicode Consortium home page.
- The Linux i18n project home page.
- UTF-8 and Unicode FAQ for Unix/Linux by Markus Kuhn.
- Jim Breen's Japanese Page. Most things relating to the Japanese language and computing are one or two clicks away from here.
- Basis Technologies make a commercial Unicode library called Rosette; their site has some good docs on the issues involved in designing these. (There is a free DOS program called uniconv which uses this to convert files between encodings; if we could write a uniconv.py and do a mass regression test against its output, we'd have finished our job!)
- Unilib from Sybase is another commercial offering which is widely used.
- gettext is a GNU library for dealing with string lookups which forms the core part of their Translation Project.
- fintl.py - A pure python module for reading .mo files created by msgfmt.
- intl.so - An interface to the (GNU) gettext C library. Only useful for intenational applications, if they are covered by GPL and will run under Unix-Linux.
- pygettext - Barry Warsaw's reimplementation of gettext in pure Python. (Now also part of Python 2.0 in Tools/i18n/.)
- Japanese codecs for Python - made available by Tamito Kajiyama.
- Tom Emerson presented a paper at the 2002 Unicode conference in Washington, DC on a unified architecture for Asian codecs: Design and Implementation of a Suite of Chinese Transcoders for Python 2.