MercTrans How-tos: Software localization basics

MercTrans How-tos: Software localization basics

Why Software Localization?

There is a simple answer to this question: digital distribution. Software has become more and more accessible for several reasons, the most notable being digital keys and software as a service (SAAS). Nowadays, you don’t have to go to a local software store, buy either a CD-ROM or DVD, place it into your disc tray, wait for it to load the install wizard, skip all the terms and conditions, go take a shower, and come back to forget to place the second disc. 

Everything is one click away now.The newest advancements in web technology can bring any software to your browser. This results in the availability of software in every country on Earth as long as there is an internet connection, thus the inseparability of localization from software development. Software localization is also easier than it used to be, and in this article, we will show you how to do it the right way. 

How to localize software

Software localization follows a simple principle: WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. In other words, it has tie-ins to the front-end of a software. The best practice here (when localizing) is to put every UI (User interface) string in one place, either a file or a folder. This will greatly help the localization team to navigate and locate their workspace. However, doing so comes with a drawback: the context of those strings will be stripped off. We can solve this problem in several ways: 

  • Ask developers to provide context to the UI strings by commenting on their code. This won’t affect the functionality of the code in any way, and because the developers know best what goes where, the context is more accurate. The trade-off here is more time in development. 
  • Walk through the software and detect the context ourselves. When doing so, we also provide the localization team with images of the software for easier understanding of how the strings are placed. The trade-off here is more time in localization.

Another way to extract the UI strings from software is to use a third-party software such as SDL Passolo. At MercTrans, we could provide solutions to either method, but we strongly recommend that our clients follow the former, because it is easier to set up and implement and, at the same time, ensure the quality of the final product. Another advantage is that we could set up a CI/CD (continuous integration, continuous delivery) localization circle using version control, but we will discuss this in details in another article. 

After having the UI strings, we move to the next step: TEP (translation, editing, proofreading). It is as straightforward as it sounds. This process is standard in the localization industry, but we could also tweak it depending on our clients’ requirements. For example, if culturalization is important, there will be another round of revision called ICR (in-country review), where marketing experts from the country itself will review the translation to avoid culturally inappropriate wordings. Or if the client wants to review in-house, we can take off the Proofreading step and provide just TE (translation and editing). 

At MercTrans, we believe that an end-to-end solution is the way to go when localizing your software, because that will ensure the quality and consistency of the translation. Hence we always offer our clients Desktop Publishing and Testing services (both functional and linguistic testing) or integrate them into our software localization process. Your end product is in good hands with our experienced in-house designers, developers, and testers.

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