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11.2 About gettext

The definition of the gettext interface comes from a Uniforum proposal. It was submitted there by Sun, who had implemented the gettext function in SunOS 4, around 1990. Nowadays, the gettext interface is specified by the OpenI18N standard.

The main point about this solution is that it does not follow the method of normal file handling (open-use-close) and that it does not burden the programmer with so many tasks, especially the unique key handling. Of course here also a unique key is needed, but this key is the message itself (how long or short it is). See Comparison for a more detailed comparison of the two methods.

The following section contains a rather detailed description of the interface. We make it that detailed because this is the interface we chose for the GNU gettext Library. Programmers interested in using this library will be interested in this description.

Interface to gettext:    The interface
Ambiguities:    Solving ambiguities
Locating Catalogs:    Locating message catalog files
Charset conversion:    How to request conversion to Unicode
Contexts:    Solving ambiguities in GUI programs
Plural forms:    Additional functions for handling plurals
Optimized gettext:    Optimization of the *gettext functions