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Ecma Publishes New Standard ECMA-402: ”ECMAScript Internationalization API Specification” - Enabling JavaScript Applications Speaking the Users’ Languages

Ecma International has approved at its December 2012 General Assembly a new standard that lets applications written in JavaScript (standardized as ECMAScript) better support a user’s language and culture. The standard has been published as ECMA-402.

Until now, it has been very difficult for web application designers to do something as simple as sort names correctly according to the user’s language. The new standard ECMA-402 changes this. It provides:

  • string comparison for sorting (such as for Swedish, where “ö” is a separate letter that sorts after “z”),
  • number and currency formatting (such as “1.234,56 €” for a German language € presentation, or the following choices for a Serbian language USD presentation: 12.345,12 US$, 12.345,12 USD or 12.345,12 америчких долара),
  • and date and time formatting capabilities (such as 2012年12月12 for a Japanese language date, or for a French date: mercredi 12 décembre 2012).

Thus for the first time, applications can choose the language and tailor the functionality to their needs. The standard complements the ECMAScript Language Specification, also published by Ecma as ECMA-262, which defines the core of JavaScript in web browsers, servers, and other software systems.

ECMA-402, ECMAScript Internationalization API Specification, is available free of charge from the Ecma International website:


Mr. Norbert Lindenberg, editor of the standard said: “This standard provides the core internationalization functionality that most applications need. Applications can now use the numbering system, calendar, and formats appropriate for the user, and where in the past they had to send lists to the server for correct sorting, this API lets them sort directly in the browser.

Mr. Nebojša Ćirić, chairman of the ECMAScript internationalization group: “Our main goals for this specification were to provide uniform and ubiquitous internationalization API for developers, to enable offline processing, and to reduce the download size for localization data. We achieved these goals and laid a solid foundation for future iterations of this specification.

Dr. István Sebestyén, Secretary General of Ecma International, added: “We are very proud to have extended the highly successful ECMAScript ECMA-262 standard with this important and much needed feature.

The standard has been developed by Ecma Technical Committee 39, with committee members representing Adobe, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Mozilla and others contributing their expertise.

ECMAScript is a trademark of Ecma International; JavaScript is a trademark of Oracle Corporation.

About Ecma International

Since its inception in 1961, Ecma International (Ecma) has developed standards for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Consumer Electronics (CE). Ecma is a non-profit industry association of technology developers, vendors and users. Experts from industry and other organizations work together at Ecma to develop standards. Ecma collaborates with, and contributes to the technical work of, ISO, IEC, ISO/IEC JTC 1 and ETSI. Ecma makes significant use of the fast-track process to elevate its specifications to the status of International or European Standards through the standardization process in these organizations. Ecma publications can be downloaded free of charge from the Ecma International website www.ecma-international.org.

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