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Internationalizing Applications
Preparing the Code : Data-processing issues : Addresses


There are many styles of address and phone number formats. Avoid hard coding processing routines for addresses or phone numbers that can change when your application is used in another country or language. For example, postal code formats are very different in various countries. Addresses are not always written with the street address immediately after the name, and the number of lines or information fields varies. The size of information fields also varies. The United States uses a nine-digit postal code while Great Britain uses a six- or seven-character combination of numbers and letters. Names can also require different ordering in countries where the first word in a name is the family name. Some locales use a single title when addressing people while others list all the titles an individual can claim. The position of a title varies also. In Japan, the title follows the name. In the United States, one title can precede a name while another follows it (for example, Mr. Eric Henderson, Jr.).
Postal codes deserve attention as they deviate widely. Storing postal code data as CHARACTER data instead of INTEGER data gives your application more flexibility in handling a wide variety of alphanumeric formats. Make sure any routines that parse addresses can handle international data. If your application runs internationally, that is, with users entering data at many locations, use validation routines to check that address entries have the correct format.