Software Localization for Non-Software Companies

How to get your software properly localized for international release

Software Localization for Non-Software CompaniesWith software becoming ubiquitous in every industry, and with many companies planning on taking their products, services and infrastructure technologies global, software localization companies are mushrooming all over the world to service the expanding localization service demand that these trends are driving. Localization of products has indeed become essential to companies’ successes overseas.

Software Localization Companies’ Challenge

Translation and localization services are offered by thousands of companies around the world and many localization services are touted, so which ones will you choose? Any localization company can claim that they can translate your strings, but not all can do so without breaking your code. The translation localization team involved needs to be not only aware, but certain of what stings in the software to translate and what strings to leave intact. This knowledge does not come with translation experience, but from coding experience. Only technical staff proficient with software coding and development practices can spot code between user strings and properly tag them for non-translation.

Localization Process

One can apply many strategies for localization, including top-down and bottom-up approaches. In the top-down approach, with every software release, the entire software set of files that are needed in a build are prepared for localization and undergo a full translation and localization process by substituting all the strings that were previously translated with their translated counterparts and translating the new strings and updating the changed strings. The top-down technique works well for traditional software development methodologies where software is significantly updated every 6 or more months.

The bottom-up approach works better when Extreme Programming techniques are used, like Agile or Scrum. Here, only the new strings that have changed over the past week or so are provided to the translation group for updates. Localization translation techniques are applied to externalize the changed strings, translate them and then insert them into the previously localized modules.

Software Localization Tools

Using the proper software localization tools is another major element to getting the work done properly, efficiently and effectively. Software is a dynamic, living and ever changing milieu. Tools are used today to properly parse files, extract or highlight strings needing translation, enable translators to translate them in a collaborative and easy to use translation environment, store translations in a database, retrieve the previous translations that were done, investigate the proper terminology to use, ensure consistent terminology and style, send queries to developers when needed, enable the resizing of dialog boxes, build the localized software, perform necessary quality assurance work, apply necessary fixes and manage the entire translation process to meet strict quality, deadline and budget requirements. Tools such as translation management system software and translation memory are essential and have to be properly customized and integrated to meet all the unique needs of each and every software environment.

App Localization

Many software localization companies also tout their ability to localize mobile phone apps. The development and use of apps have exploded over the past ten years since the release of the first iPhone. Localizing apps may appear to be easy since the user interface is often brief and self-explanatory. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity; it is where the complexity lies! Making an app simple, practical and accurate in other languages is not an easy task to accomplish. It takes years of experience and mobile apps know-how. Furthermore, it is seldom that you can find a mobile app that is independent from a more comprehensive server solution that also requires localization.  Translation software companies need to be skilled not only with app localization, but also server software localization.

Not Just ISO Localization Services

While no one today performs localization company ranking to help you better gauge every company’s abilities, you can establish a method to do so yourself. First, look for a company that is ISO 9001 certified. This gives you the peace of mind of knowing that they have established processes, from identifying the proper resources to applying the correct tools, and that they follow them with every project.

Next, ask them how many software apps they have localized and what their success rates are. A company that tracks its accomplishments and surveys its clients for their input on every project and every year is one that is serious about meeting its clients’ requirements every time.

Find out a bit more about the background of their staff and particularly the project manager that will be entrusted with your project. Does that person have software experience and understands the nuances of the challenges involved? How many software localization projects have they managed before and can they handle your unique requirements?

Lastly, learn about the language localisation technology that they use and how appropriate it is to apply to your project. Perhaps getting a live demonstration of the process to be applied and how you will be involved in that process may be in order.

The Right Localization Service Provider

A software localization company consists of not only the translation of the necessary strings, but more importantly, leaving the strings that relate to machine code intact! Software internationalization techniques can help separate the two types of strings, translatable vs. untranslatable, but without proper training and software experience, it is often hard to be 100% accurate. With software, all it takes is one mishap to render the code unusable, leading to many unplanned and unbudgeted hours of testing and quality assurance work. Language localization is one thing, software localization is another! A competent software localization company can perform all the above mentioned functions and more.

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