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Internationalization Tag Set Approved as Web Standard

W3C Sets New Standard for Internationalized Web Content

ITS 1.0 Shows The Way to Making Interoperable Markup Languages — 3-April-2007

The latest Web Standard from W3C, Internationalization Tag Set (ITS) 1.0, makes it easy to create internationalized XML content. This content can be adapted, at lower cost, to the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market, a process called localization. Whether ITS 1.0 is used to build an internationalized XML schema from scratch, to add support to an existing schema, or to improve the internationalization of existing content, ITS 1.0 gives users the power to create XML for worldwide use.

"It's all too common for international users and localizers to struggle with document formats due to a lack of internationalization during schema design, " explained Richard Ishida, W3C Internationalization Activity Lead. " Developers may not know what's needed, or may only provide part of what's needed, and then do so inconsistently from schema to schema. ITS is there to help with this, whether you are creating a new schema or working with an established one."

ITS 1.0 Is an Important Building Block of a World Wide Web

ITS 1.0 addresses a number of internationalization requirements, including being able to identify the language of a piece of text, to specify the directionality of text (such as right-to-left Hebrew and Arabic or mixed directionality texts), to provide Ruby annotations (used in East Asian documents to indicate pronunciation or to provide a short annotation), and to indicate whether content should be translated (an important requirement for people building tools to help with localization).

An internationalized XML schema takes into consideration these requirements and others, ideally early in the design process. With ITS 1.0, XML schema designers can build localization-ready schemas at lower cost by reusing the "predefined" ITS 1.0 constructs, such as the "its:dir" attribute to specify text directionality.

ITS 1.0 also enables people to improve the internationalization of existing XML documents without modifying them. To do so, one describes how the features of the existing format relate to the corresponding ITS 1.0 features. By creating this association with the powerful features of ITS 1.0, localization tools that support ITS 1.0 can be expanded at low cost to handle legacy content, including content in formats such as XHTML, DocBook and DITA. ITS 1.0 also makes it easier and less expensive to build localization tools by offering a standard for localization concepts.

ITS 1.0 Designed with International Cooperation, Requirements

In designing ITS 1.0, the Internationalization Activity took into account the diverse internationalization and localization requirements of schema developers (with new or existing schemas), vendors of content-related tools, and content providers. ITS 1.0 was developed in liaison with some of the leading standardization efforts in the localization industry such as the XLIFF TC in OASIS, and the OSCAR SIG at LISA.

About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 400 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan,and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see

Announcement in Japanese
Translations in other languages
W3C Press Release Archive


Contact Americas, Australia
Janet Daly
Email: <>
Tel: +1.617.253.5884 or +1.617.253.2613

Contact Europe, Africa and the Middle East
Marie-Claire Forgue
Eail: <>
Tel: +33.492.38.75.94

Contact Asia
Yasuyuki Hirakawa
Email: <> Tel: +81.466.49.1170


Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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