Developers and tech enthusiasts often like numbers. That’s why shortcuts called numeronyms, which combine letters and numbers, are popular among them. These shortcuts help make long words easier to type and remember.
A common method to create a numeronym is to use the first and last letters of a word and count the letters in between. For instance, the numeronym for “internationalization” is “i18n”. Curious about how it works? You can even create your own.
The Start of Numeronyms
Based on online sources, the story of numeronyms started with an employee named Jan Scherpenhuizen at DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation, which later merged with Hewlett-Packard). His name was too long for an account name, so the system admin gave him the username “s12n”.
This naming style became popular at DEC, leading to the creation of numeronyms like “i18n” for “internationalization” as early as the mid-1980s. Over time, many such shortcuts appeared, both in tech and other fields.
Now, let’s explore the top 10 numeronyms in the tech world:
1. "i18n" Means Internationalization
i18n is about preparing software or apps for potential translations in the future. It doesn’t mean the software is translated, but it sets the stage for possible translations later on. During this preparation, developers add features that might not be used until actual translation happens. The main aim of i18n is to make software usable worldwide.
2. "l10n" Refers to Localization
The counterpart of i18n is l10n, standing for “localization”. This is when software or apps are tailored to fit a specific culture.
Products that have undergone the i18n process can be easily localized. But localization doesn’t just mean translation. It includes adapting to local details like specific currency, time zones, symbols, legal requirements, and other local features.
To understand the difference between i18n and l10n, check the W3C guide. W3C itself uses a shortcut for its name: “World Wide Web Consortium”. Here’s an example showcasing how a universal symbol for pedestrian crossing was localized for Portuguese audiences.
3. "m17n" Stands for Multilingualization
m17n is about adapting software or apps for several languages and cultures simultaneously. Software that is multilingualized supports multiple languages and respects local specifics like time zones, date, time, and currency formats.
Discussing m17n also brings up the importance of supporting writing systems beyond just ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) characters.
For instance, WordPress offers a user-friendly multilingual interface. It lets users select their preferred language during installation and within the user interface afterwards.
4. "a11y" Refers to Accessibility
a11y is a term widely used in web design, especially after the W3C introduced its web accessibility standards. a11y aims to assist people with various disabilities or sensory challenges, including the elderly and those in remote areas with limited internet connectivity.
Accessibility encompasses a broad spectrum. For instance, those with visual impairments may need high color contrast ratios. Some users, unable to operate a mouse, should have full keyboard functionality. For individuals with hearing challenges, transcripts are essential. Product designers must account for these and many other a11y use cases.
5. "c14n" Stands for Canonicalization
c14n refers to the process where multiple data representations are converted into a standardized format. This term is often seen in SEO guidelines, such as this guide from Google, which educates about canonical URLs.
In the realm of search engine optimization, c14n is crucial when a single web page can be accessed through multiple URLs, as this can result in penalties from search engines. For example, using Google Webmaster Tools, one can determine their preferred domain format. For further insights on SEO and c14n, check out resources like Yoast.
Developers might also encounter c14n in XML contexts, ensuring the XML document adheres to a specific format.
6. "i14y" Denotes Interoperability
i14y is about the compatibility and portability of system or product components. With an increasing number of entities becoming networked, i14y has emerged as a frequently used term in IT product descriptions.
Web designers have also embraced the term i14y, especially when discussing interoperable CSS, which stands for a uniform standard of loadable and linkable CSS. The realm of cloud computing leverages the i14y concept due to the pressing need to construct systems from reusable components that can efficiently operate in diverse scenarios.
7. "P13n" Represents Personalization
p13n revolves around tailoring products to meet the distinct needs of individuals. In the digital realm, real-time website personalization has become a significant online marketing strategy and a challenge web developers must address.
With a plethora of analytic tools available for online targeting, the logical progression is to adapt content for varied segments of the online audience. The p13n concept contradicts the generic one-size-fits-all method. This is supported by research revealing that a significant 74% of online users become disenchanted when confronted with irrelevant content, such as unrelated ads or promotions.
8. "v12n" Refers to Virtualization
v12n encompasses the process developers use to create virtual versions of various entities, like an operating system, server, or other network resources. Simple manifestations of v12n can involve tasks such as partitioning a hard drive.
Employing desktop v12n can enhance the web development process, allowing developers the opportunity to evaluate their websites or web apps in multiple environments. Prominent software tools aiding desktop v12n include VMWare Workstation and Oracle VirtualBox. Hongkiat.com offers several insightful v12n tutorials, including installing Windows on a Mac and utilizing Vagrant for local WordPress development.
9. "c10k" Refers to the 10,000 Clients Challenge
Distinct from the other numeronyms discussed, c10k has a unique etymology. It denotes the challenge where a web server must simultaneously cater to “10 thousand clients”. Recognized as a potential bottleneck in web server administration, the c10k problem emerges when a server is tasked with serving 10,000 concurrent clients.
The urgency to address this challenge has amplified due to the exponential growth in website traffic. This surge is attributed to the escalating number of internet users, their evolving requirements, and the expanding range of their online devices.
For individuals keen on web server scalability, delve into this comprehensive overview of the c10k problem.
10. "Y2K38" Highlights the Year 2038 Time-Storage Dilemma
The Y2K38 problem, signifying the Year 2038 challenge, foreshadows a looming time-related data storage crisis slated for 2038. This glitch originates from 32-bit processors, which document time values as signed 32-bit integers.
This numeric range is confined and will hit its peak positive value on January 19, 2038. The resultant effect could be catastrophic as computers might misinterpret the year 2038 as 1970, potentially triggering widespread malfunctions and system crashes.
While a universal remedy remains elusive, transitioning to 64-bit systems can mitigate this issue. By 2038, the majority of devices are anticipated to adopt 64-bit systems. However, concerns persist as certain web servers and backend hardware might still rely on 32-bit date systems.
For those inclined to monitor the countdown to this projected calamity, an interactive timer can be accessed here.