The goal of Internationalization is to provide the technical foundation to enable programs to support mutliple scripts and languages without redesign or modification. Once a user has selected a log-in language, all programs must transparently alter their run-time behavior to meet the expectations of the user. Internationalization furthers generic programming, because hard-encoded search strings, error messages, etc. may work in one language, but not in another.

The goal of Localization is to specify the language- and culture-specific program behavior, including translated texts, default currency, date and time formats, etc. Language specific information is stored in several places. Translated texts for example are stored in the database and accessed according to the log in language. Other properties, such as sort order and uppercase conversion are defined in a locale. Locales are hardware-specific, that is, a Microsoft Windows locale may sort characters differently than a HP-UX locale does. In a heterogeneous application server environment, this can lead to different

Internationalized software accesses this localization information dynamically to provide each user with the correct language environment: Together Internationalization and Localization make globalized software possible.

If a system or application can support any language, then it is fully internationalized; if it supports only a limited subset of languages, then it is partially internationalized. SAPs goal is to support full Internationalization through Unicode support.

Implementation Considerations

Internationalization support (earlier called Native Language Support) provides the necessary technical infrastructure for multiple languages to be used in an SAP system. See Pre-Unicode solutions and Unicode for more information.


Internationalization interects with every facet of the system: log-in language, language input, menu texts, sorting, character conversion, printing, data transfer. Internationalization is the technical underpinning of global business software.