Category Archives: software

Best Practices for Software Localization

Best Practices for Software LocalizationSoftware localization – where your software is customized to suit a specific language or region – is a great way of expanding your business. But if you are not prepared, it may cause many hassles such as garbled text, wrong encoding, and crashes. All these frustrations may be avoided if you prepare well for the localization.

Plan In Advance

More often than not, the reason software applications fall apart at attempts on localization is because the application was not conceptualized with localization in mind. As a result, there were no provisions created for language change or other modifications required for localization. Planning in advance can prevent this.

Design your software with provisions for localization like character support for different languages, so that the grammar of these languages can also be incorporated. Along with content localization, you should also focus on testing localization so that your software localization is more effective. Build a detailed testing plan in English and use the same plan in the localized tests also.

Remember that the feel of your software should be like the locally built software for native users. They should be able to use it without feeling like it was built by someone unfamiliar with their culture. Planning ahead will ensure that your software has this local feel.

Leave Provision for Text Expansion

Languages other than English have a more extended character set, so just using English standards will not be enough if you want to make truly localized software. Using UTF-8 standards always is the best practice for software localization. This prevents extra conversion and garbling of text. Keeping provision for dynamic expansion of UI is also a good practice.

Never use hard coded strings, especially for date and time formats. This is because different countries use different date and time formats. Same goes with currency. Naming conventions may also be different for different countries. Some write the given name before the family name, and some the opposite. Some cultures even have just one name for a person.

Grammar varies from language to language. “Red pencil” in English translates to “crayon rouge” in French. So if you are thinking of concatenating strings, it will not work out for software localization. Keep in mind, no string should ever be overused.

Other Considerations

The GUI and other aspects of the software will be translated by professional translators, and not by your engineers. So if you make the context and the meanings of the translatable parts clear to them through comments, they will be able to do it more easily. Furthermore, they will be consistent with the context right from the beginning to the end of the translation.

Make sure that the translation company you choose is an experienced and expert one, so that they can help with the translation of your software as well as help in documentation and at the same time maintain consistency between the two.

Always remember changing the language does not fully localize the software unless you use the full locale for that region. For example, if the software is supposed to be in English, it can be used in the America or in Britain, but then the spelling and naming conventions would change for software localization, even though the language remains the same (color vs. colour, or elevator vs. lift). Internalization support is also important in your software. It will allow the native formats for currency, date, and time for individual regions to be shown in a way familiar to the region-specific users.

As is evident from this article, software localization is never complete unless it is aligned to the local customs, conventions, and culture of the region it is being localized for. While planning and designing your software, keep provisions for not only language support, but also for other region-specific local conventions to avoid last minute worries.

Translation of Technical Data and Source Texts

Translation of Technical Data and Source TextsMany companies hire professional services for translation and/or localization of their websites, technical documents, and marketing materials without previously checking the competency of these services. This can lead to unintelligible or unprofessional translations, which can in turn affect the brand image of your company. When it comes to technical documents, errors can lead to potential liability issues for a company. Therefore, it becomes important to get the translation right the first time.

Companies are often not aware of the low-quality of translations until a native speaker points it out to them. In such cases, companies are left with just one option: scrap the document and redo the translation, which turns out to be an additional cost, as leaving it in its current state is just not an option.

Any type of technical translation, such as certificates, industry papers, websites, and so on has to be accurately done by professionals. The key here is to have professionals working on the translation who preferably have advanced degree in the source language or in translation itself. Also, they should have substantial experience in industry-specific translation, as putting the translation of licenses and patent documents in inexperienced hands can be harmful.

Another important consideration is to look for professionals who are experts in their field. For instance, professional medical translators should typically have advanced degree in the source language and also a medical degree or comprehensive knowledge about the subject from years of working in the medical field. Technical field expertise involves understanding and knowledge of the specific terminology of a particular industry and ensuring that the translation conveys the meaning intended by the author.

Creating Finer Source Documents

There are a number of technical documentation departments that try to cut the costs of source documents to reduce overall costs. This should not be done by compromising the quality of the translation. Thus, you should handle source documents with greater consideration.

A lot of cost optimization has taken place in the translation industry during the last decade. This has included trained translators, sophisticated software, quick communication routes, and better planned process management, which reduce costs. What we are missing here is the potential for further optimizing the costs by giving more consideration to the preparation of the source text. The reason for this is that source texts are key documents that help to optimize the costs and quality of translations.

Source documents that are well designed for proper translation generate added value and provide cost reduction. When you optimize source documents, the target document translation costs are optimized as a consequence. Also, this reduces processing time, as well as a lot of preliminary and post-processing work for the technical translators and writers.

Consistent source documents, whether it is technical documentation, or marketing and press texts, can also help consolidate the brand image of any organization, as they give a comprehensive impression which makes the company’s public image a memorable one. That is true in every case, and it is the reason why, in an ideal scenario, a standard language should be used in every type of text.

The key benefit of neat source texts, though, is this: better and more intelligible content leads to fewer misunderstandings. This provides, therefore, a clear benefit in the present times when products have a larger spectrum with most of the similar product features. These aspects argue in favor of more intelligible and, consequently, consumer-friendly products. To get finer source documents, you can follow the tips below:

– identify error sources
– introduce and implement review process
– document processes and rules
– provide tool support

Technical content can be very tricky to translate into foreign languages, as translators need to be well versed in the various nuances in both source and target languages, and also in the technical field of the document.

Six Important Software Localization Guidelines

Six Important Software Localization GuidelinesImagine a scenario where you have translated your software into a number of different languages. You have announced the release date also. And then, you may suddenly realize that you have made the software available in most languages, but have not really tested them in all. The fact that you do not know if the software actually runs in a particular language can lead to panic. To avoid stressful situations like this, here are some rules that you can follow.

Convert User Strings into Resource Files

When you have a string that is visible to the user, make sure that you convert it into resource files. Examples of user visible strings are error messages, product names, titles, image strings, etc. When you add these strings in resource files, you can easily translate them. Most translators specify values to different translated strings. When a user selects a particular language, the software matches it with the translator value you have assigned and text in the corresponding language is displayed.

Avoid String Concatenation

Concatenation bug is one of the most common bugs that localization experts have to deal with on a regular basis. Take the example of a shopping site that allows you to buy t-shirts. The shirts available on the site could be of different colors. When you write the translator code for, let’s say French, you would use the commonly used French term for shirt and just append the translated version of the color that the user picks. But for French, this kind of translation does not work. French uses modifiers before some words and don’t use it for others and ignoring this aspect will result in wrong translation. So, the best way to avoid this bug is by completely avoiding string concatenation.

Include Punctuation Marks in Resource Strings Only

Punctuation marks also work like concatenations, except that punctuation rules differ from language to language. So, you cannot let punctuation marks be as they are and just translate the words. The best way to deal with this is to put all the punctuation marks into the resource strings. This way, you can add the relevant punctuation marks wherever necessary according to the translated text, without any grammatical errors.

Be Careful With First Names

In North America, people tend to use the last name more regularly. In some eastern countries, predominantly Asian, some people will have only one name. You cannot figure out if it’s the first or last. Obviously, the direct translation algorithm will mess this up and the blunders can be frankly embarrassing. The errors will be in the prefix to the name. To avoid this, make sure to add a gender tag to the name so that you have a comparative parameter while translating the string and add the right prefix.

Make Provision for Extension and Compression of Strings

When the user interface is designed, sentences will have a specific number of characters. But the problem in translation is that some words that are short in one language are long in another. The best way to deal with this issue is not to have any limitation in characters in the layout. You can just allow the text to orient itself in the space available. Just ensure that there is enough space for the strings to grow or shrink.

Stick to UTF-8 Character Encoding

Another issue that you are going to face with translated text is character encoding. There is the UTF-16 standard that you will be tempted to use. But keep in mind that UTF-8 is ideal for all your needs. Make sure you invoke the encoding at the top of your page to avoid any confusion and ensure that the standard is maintained throughout. Make sure you maintain this uniformity across all UI pages’ code.

Challenges of Software Localization

Challenges of Software LocalizationSoftware development is a constant necessity and a booming business in today’s IT world. There are a number of companies that produce high quality software. To ensure the global reach of the software that they produce, developers make it available in multiple languages. While this is a logical move by the company, there are a number of hurdles that the developers have to overcome. The basic source code will remain the same, but the user interface (UI) designers will have to work with the translation team to ensure that the software is effectively localized. Here are a few solutions to the challenges that the developers would face while localizing the software.

Localization Should Begin When the Coding Starts

If you are familiar with the software development cycle, you are aware of the fact that the user interface (UI) design is finalized before the coding part actually begins. So, the team responsible for the development of UI will already have started working even before the source code work starts. As a result, the UI team will have to work with the translation team to ensure that the UI is effectively localized. For each region, a separate UI is designed and coded. The basic design and layout remains the same. Only the text in the UI will be made available in the regional languages.

All Editions Should Be Rolled Out Simultaneously

One of the secrets of successful software is its simultaneous global release. When you release software on a global scale, your competitors have fewer chances of getting the jump on you to release their products. As a result, translators also have to work on a tight schedule to ensure that the localized UIs are ready for a global release. This is not an easy task especially if the localization is handled by a single company. They will have to work on tight deadlines and ensure that the quality is of the highest order.

Help File and Legal Documents Translation

One of the biggest challenges that a localization team will face while working with software localization is its technical documents. Localization experts are well versed in languages but they are not aware of the minor technical details which are crucial for a technical manual or a help file that is provided with the software. So, the translators will have to work with the technical team to ensure that they get all the minor details spot-on.

The same is true for legal documents. Without being aware of the legal ramifications, a translator might use terms that are considered legally wrong. To avoid this, translators should closely co-ordinate with the legal team to translate the legal documents accurately without any discrepancies.

Although the aforementioned activities are fairly simple and straightforward, they consume a lot of time. Also, quality is something that cannot be compromised on while localizing software.

Updated Content

When an update or a patch to the software is released, the developer team must ensure that the UI patches, if any, should be localized. The localization team will again have to work with the developers to get the terms in question right. If any content in the help file or the software content has to be updated, the relevant patches should be localized before they are released.

Cultural Barriers

There are certain cultural barriers that the localization team should be aware of while working on localizing particular software. For example, the usage of specific terms might be culturally inappropriate in some parts of the world, although it is accurate on a grammatical basis. Similarly, these small cultural details should be at the back of the localizing experts while they are working on software localization.