Globalization Guidelines: Locale and Resource Bundle


Locale Setting in Dojo

There is a slight difference in the locale naming conventions between Dojo and Java. Dojo uses “-” (hyphen) as the separator for concatenate language code, country code, and variants, whereas Java uses an “_” (underline). For example, “zh_CN” in Java is similar to “zh-cn” in Dojo.

Like the default locale in Java, Dojo has a global locale value that is stored in a global variable: dojo.locale. This default locale value affects the behavior of several locale-related functions and widgets. The value of dojo.locale is not supposed to be changed. You should use dojoConfig.locale to initialize this value.

You must set dojoConfig.locale in all files to achieve server-based personalization

If dojoConfig.locale is undefined, Dojo will consult the browser’s navigator object for the setting chosen at browser install time. Note that this is unrelated to the locale setting in the preferences dialog, which is for interaction with the server only. To provide personalization from the server to control locale settings in an application, you must set dojoConfig.locale in the page at the server side, prior to loading dojo.js. For example, here is a JSP page that sets the default locale for Dojo:

String actualLocale = ResourceBundle.getBundle("",
    request.getLocale()).getLocale().toString().replace('_', '-');
<script type="text/javascript" src="../dojo/dojo.js" data-dojo-config="locale: '<%=userLocale%>'">

Resource Bundle Files

You must always use resource bundles to store the strings displayed to users.

Dojo introduces resource bundle into JavaScript. If you are familiar with Java resource bundle, you can find that Dojo resource bundle is very similar to Java resource bundle. The following table shows a summary of the differences between Java and Dojo:

Resource bundle: Java Dojo
File Format Properties file JSON file
Locale Identifier Suffix of file name Directory name
Locale Naming Use “_” (underline) as separator Use “-” (hyphen) as separator
Get Bundle ResourceBundle.getBundle dojo.requireLocalization, dojo.i18n.getLocalization
Get Message ResourceBundle.getString JSON object

For example, there are two resource bundles named “bar” and “foo” in a package named “” with some of their localized versions:

In Java (6 files with different names):


And in Dojo (4 directories and 6 files):


The fallback strategy in Dojo is the same as that in Java.

Using Resource Bundle

First, you should use the dojo.registerModulePath function to define the directory where resource bundles are as a registered module. The module name needs to be used in later callings to the dojo.requireLocalization and dojo.i18n.getLocalization functions. For the previous example, you can use the following line to define the module "":

dojo.registerModulePath("", "../../my/app");
// Note: Here, the "../../my/app" path is relative to the directory that contains "dojo.js".

Then you can use the dojo.requireLocalization function to load resource bundles from files. After a resource bundle is loaded, the dojo.i18n.getLocalization function returns a copy of the bundle object.

When you get the bundle object, you can use it as a normal JSON object (a hash) to get messages. If you modify values in the bundle object, the original global bundle object will not be affected.

You should use dojoConfig.locale to set the default locale and extra locales, and use only dojo.requireLocalization without the locale parameter.

dojoConfig.locale overrides the browser's default locale as specified by the navigator JavaScript object. This setting is effective for the entire page and must be declared prior to loading dojo.js. dojoConfig.extraLocale establishes additional locales whose resource bundles will be made available. This is used rarely to accommodate multiple languages on a single page. No other locales may be used on the page.

If you omit the locale parameter when calling the dojo.requireLocalization function, the function will load the resource bundles for locales in dojoConfig.locale as well as for all the locales in dojoConfig.extraLocale.

For example, if you define:

<script type="text/javascript" src="../dojo/dojo.js" data-dojo-config="locale: 'zh-cn', extraLocale: ['zh-tw', 'fr']">

then the following two code blocks are equal:

Code block A:

dojo.requireLocalization("", "bar");

var bar = dojo.i18n.getLocalization("", "bar");

Code block B:

dojo.requireLocalization("", "bar", "zh-cn"); // default locale
dojo.requireLocalization("", "bar", "zh-tw"); // extra locale
dojo.requireLocalization("", "bar", "fr");    // extra locale

var bar = dojo.i18n.getLocalization("", "bar", "zh-cn"); // default locale

The first method is preferred as it is less brittle.


Before you deploy your Web application using Dojo, you should consider building the Dojo layers that are used by your application into a single JavaScript file. Using such a build brings you many advantages. The unused scripts, white spaces, comments, and overridden string values can be removed to make smaller downloads, and the need to search by locale can be skipped such that extra server requests and 404 responses are avoided. In general, the build reduces the request time from the browser to the server to avoid latency issues.

You may make a build to include resource bundles in the locales that you use

Resource bundles can either be included in a build or be used without a build. If you use resource bundles without a build, the first request for each resource bundle will generate N+1 HTTP requests when it searches the server for values, where N is the number of segments in the target locale. For example, a call of dojo.requireLocalization("", "bar") in the "zh-cn" locale looks for "bar.js" first in the "zh-cn", then in "zh", and finally in the root. Without optimization, some of these requests might result in harmless HTTP 404 errors (page not found) if a variant does not need to override any definitions from its parent.


JSON is a convenient and efficient format for resource bundles in JavaScript, but the JSON format is not well supported by many professional translation centers. XLIFF is the industry standard file format for localization and translation. Among other things, XLIFF will ease in declaration of encoding and hide details from the translator such as JavaScript character entities. Tools will be developed to support round-trip transforms between JSON and XLIFF. Support for gettext PO files in the future is also possible.

Translators must also be aware of the substitution syntax of Dojo — ${x}

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