Six Things I Learned in Quality Software Localization

Delivering quality software localization is not as easy as one might think

6 dice representing quality software localization

This blog post is a compilation of six technology independent nuggets. Ones that Michael Scharhag recently discovered about quality software localization. As a German development team working for a German customer they used German as their base language within the application. Their customer was responsible for translating the German application messages into another 21 languages and providing other localized material (images, downloadable documents, etc.).

#1 Use a Tool

You need a way to share message files and translations between developers and translators. Luckily there are some nice tools available that can support you with the whole translation process, such as: the open source tool Pootle opens in a new window. If you prefer to save localized messages within a database you could easily create a CRUD opens in a new window UI with simple search functionality yourself. They could then be used by translators to update messages.

#2 Teach Translators

You should make sure that translators fully understand the syntax of messages. For a developer it might be obvious how placeholders, escaping and date formats work. From a translator’s view (who might not have any experience with software development at all) things aren’t always that obvious.

#3 Give Translators Context

Just translating messages from one language into another often isn’t enough. Translators need to know the context in which the message is displayed. This is in order to provide an appropriate translation. The first step here is to give them access to a test system where they can see the application with a recent version of their translations.

#4 Keep in Mind Word Widths can Vary

Depending on your base language you should be aware that the average character count per word can be much higher or lower in other languages. You should make sure that your application UI supports varying text sizes. This is especially important for buttons and navigation elements which typically expand if their labels get larger.

#5 Test It                   

Extensively test the localized application: Validate translations, use non western characters as user input and check the functionality for all languages.

#6 It Takes Time

The whole process of localization can take a lot of time. Especially if many people from different countries participate in the process. So make sure to plan it properly. Remember that every text message you add to the application needs translation. Read Full Article here… opens in a new window

Quality Software Localization

Even in this globalization era, many still underestimate the amount of work involved to get a software application fully localized and released. But once you commit the resources, they quickly come to realize that localizing an application is not a simple translation process from one language to another. For more info on the localization process, read the following highly recommended write-ups:

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Translation Management System Benefits

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