Achieving Compounded Productivity, Efficiency, and Scalability Gains in International Releases

When making decisions, localization buyers often focus on cost and timing of translation, but overlook the monetary and opportunity costs of their own file processing. Activities such as gathering files for translation, running diffs, checking the formatting, packaging and sending files to a translation vendor all take people, resources, and time, which decelerates development velocity. Then it all happens again when the files have to be incorporated, further hindering an agile localization process.

A Friction-Filled Process

For localization managers, it is a friction-filled process, which saps their time from more strategic pursuits.

Organizationally, it puts a drag on continuous development as localization doesn’t keep up with development, given the human factor delays. When you multiply that over multiple branches and sprints, and even multiple products and languages, you have a serious disconnect. This results in higher operational costs and delays of new features to global users. If as a company, you have global goals, like increasing sales and usership worldwide, that localization drag has a direct effect on your ability to delight users with new features in a timely manner.

Even Minor Issues Can Become Major

Consider the seemingly innocuous case of a tag adjacent to text that an individual is translating and that gets accidentally deleted in the process. Might seem like a minor issue. Yet if that causes major problems with parts of your application after release to a specific market, the damage to the brand extends beyond the customer’s frustration and escalates up to the reputation of the brand. It then reverberates back to the development team as time needs to be spent putting out fires instead of focusing on new sprints and developing new features.

Now, multiply that one case by 100 or 200, and you can see the ramifications a manual, inefficient, error-prone localization process can have on your software development for international markets.

Productivity, Efficiency, and Scalability

Achieving Quantum Leaps in Productivity, Efficiency, and Scale

When looking to achieve not just small incremental gains in productivity, but rather quantum leaps in productivity, efficiency, and scale, turn to technology. Look to extract the random nature that comes from an overreliance on an individual, and instead implement automated, scalable systems to ensure that processes are adhered to, consistency is ensured, and human error is minimized.

Achieving high efficiency in your software release process for international markets is critical if you plan to expand geographically. It’s one thing to manage localization into one, two, or three languages. When you try to scale your business to handle 10, 20, or 30+ languages, the lack of an efficient, frictionless process limits your growth. Use systems to help you get your business where you want it to go.

10X Globalization Webinar

To learn how to achieve 10X productivity gains with your internationalization and localization efforts, view the recording of our 10X Globalization webinar.

Continuous Globalization Makes You Fast and Agile

The localization industry has been late to the party regarding continuous integration (CI) of its services with software development. Continuous Globalization is finally getting the attention it deserves now, and that’s a good thing not only for the software industry but also for end users around the world. Here’s what continuous integration, and more specifically continuous internationalization (i18n) and localization (L10n) are, and what it can mean for your software development process.

The Basics of Continuous Globalization

For the uninitiated, Wikipedia defines software continuous integration, or CI,  as the practice of merging all developer working copies to a shared source repository several times a day. Multiple builds and automated tests and quality profiles are run against the code to identify bugs and other issues quickly. The sooner you find those issues, the less costly in time, effort, and money they are to fix. CI is fundamentally supportive of agile development principles. Automated quality profiles can include coding quality measurements, security, and more.

Lingoport has been working with some of the largest, well known global technology brands with its continuous internationalization suite of software, Lingoport Suite, including internationalization support for developers, QA support, and localization streamlining. These products work seamlessly with agile-friendly localization providers, providing software companies with systems and services to back up their fast moving product development efforts.

Beware the Invisible Costs

Happily, we don’t usually have to extol the benefits of CI to development teams. I’ll also note that internationalization (i18n) and localization (L10n) requirements are far more openly received than years ago.

That said, managers will comparison shop to lower localization costs per word but can inexplicably regard engineering costs involved in chasing i18n bugs, accounting for localization file updates, and iterative testing as invisible. That typical process involves manual, error-risk prone work even if there are scripts involved. If anything goes wrong with file formatting or myriad other nits, the time to trace it back and fix it eclipses a few penny savings here and there, and can be downright costly in financial terms and damaging from a brand perspective when viewed holistically.

For example, if you consider a SaaS application, perhaps with 5 to 15+ simultaneous sprints running at any given time and with three to five developers per sprint team, there is a lot of room for i18n issues to arise. The localization for any particular sprint or release might be quite small. For example: a few words added in one menu, a new error message, and some new functionality that add up to five to 10 new files with an average of 34 words needing localization per file. The minute someone has to manually handle any of that, you’re losing money and momentum. It costs far less in money and time if i18n issues are found right during day-to-day development, and the localization flow from repository to translator and back to the repository is managed automatically, including validation checks.

Dealing with Short, Fast Development Cycles

If your teams are agile (most teams are at least using some form of agile methodology now), it is particularly challenging to include both internationalization and localization processes within a two to three week or shorter cycle. However, we’ve seen clients using systems go from 5 week localization turnarounds, to three days. Consider that if your i18n and L10n are not integrated and automated within your sprints, you are defacto pushing them into the backlog. As your developers move on to successive sprints, if there is a problem with i18n and L10n that needs development and QA attention, they have to stop what they are doing, figure out what the problems are, where they are located, and fix them, and then QA must again verify that fix. That costs time, money, and momentum. It also likely means that your globalized users have to wait for new releases.

Keep in mind that many software development projects are moving to micro services architectures, which break repositories into many little components that get mixed and matched based on product configurations. This makes the business case for continuous i18n and L10n even more pronounced.

Human Factor Issues

Let me give you examples of human factor problems that cause quality, development/QA costs and localization delay issues:

A very common developer practice is to concatenate a string or message to the user. The message builds based on elements such as variables, plurals, and conditions that determine what the software needs to convey. This is how developers are taught to write code. It’s very efficient if there’s only one language involved. Even if that concatenated string is properly externalized, the word order is likely to be completely different in another language, making the translated version at best quaint, and at worst nonsensical. Since the translator doesn’t see the whole string together, they can’t produce a quality translation. However, if concatenations are found right in that day’s work for the developer, correction is quick and painless. Wait until testing, and now we have a multi-step process.

Another example is a developer not using a proper class or method that can support locale, or not passing locale to a class. Perhaps they are using a calendar class, such as SimpleDateFormat (Java). This will render a US formatted date just fine and will pass unit tests, but it’s not going to go well on a system with a different locale date formatting preference.

If you catch these sorts of issues as the developer is writing or committing their day’s work, it’s minutes to fix them. Find them later, and likely QA has gotten involved, the developer has to track down the issue (often not obvious to locate in the code), verify it’s fixed and then update a bug report. It’s no wonder these issues slip in favor of a release date.

Automation, Efficiency, and Speed

For QA, a pseudo-locale is created automatically which adds pad characters around strings so that the tester can see the U/I in English. The pad characters prove that the interface can expand to support likely longer translated dialogs and more complex character sets. Again, nobody has to remember to run a script at some point in time. The updates are automatic and continuous. When the interface is changed by the developer, the pseudo-locale update is automatically updated. This gives QA departments immediate functional U/I test cases for every new feature that confirms to worldwide requirements.

For localization, the changed U/I resource files are automatically detected. Those files are then automatically vetted for quality checks (i.e., no duplicate string IDs, proper file formatting, and more) and sent out for translation or pushed into a Translation Management System (TMS). The localization vendor, which must understand and even thrive in agile localization, then delivers the translations, which are updated leveraging a TMS, Localization Vendor Portal or other translation systems, and our Resource Manager process verifies the file formatting again and takes care of updating the source repository.

Nobody has to track down all the resource files, measure for changes, run a script, verify the file formatting, and figure out issues like duplicate string IDs or silly things like a missing curly bracket in the file format. When the translation comes back, there is no need to manually check the files again, track the fact that some translations came back before others, find a missing translation, or some broken file parameter or encoding. That’s all done. If there’s an issue, it’s clearly described and the fix is fast. If as fallible humans we were to miss any of that, it’s often not detected till much later and even so, it can be hard to unravel. Because there is no human processing delay, linguistic testing can begin faster and within context of the application.

Integrating i18n and L10n has another human factor effect that changes the cultural thinking of the company. When measurement and updating is quick, visible, and relatively painless, you change the way that developers think about globalization requirements. You’ll find teams learn to automatically think about the global implications of their development efforts and the needs of new customers, and factor that into their decisions upfront. As one executive described it, the teams moved from being like a US based company that is looking to do international business, to a global mindset, looking to write software for the world. That makes for global product leadership, rather than a simple checkmark for minimal product requirements.

Strengthening Your Competitive Edge in Global Markets

Remember, there are competitors whose primary model is to copy what is successful in some markets, but use a better localized product to outcompete dominant industry players in new markets. Internationalization and localization are now not just about reaching new customers, they are also about defending customers and capitalizing on new opportunities going forward. What some people think is good enough, is not good enough. It’s best to give your global customers a continuous, excellent, up-to-date experience, or someone else will do that for you.

Additional Continuous Globalization Resources

What is Continuous Globalization?

Continuous Globalization

Click Image to Enlarge

Update: Check out our Continuous Globalization Resource Page for more information.

Agile development has changed localization tasks dramatically as software changes faster but in smaller increments. It’s easy for localization to fall behind, as there are all kinds of management and manual task overhead as files get moved around and updated. We believe that some of the biggest globalization efficiency gains for software companies to realize will be in systematically and continuously integrating internationalization and localization with agile teams.

To address systematic solutions, we’re proposing a new industry term: Continuous Globalization. This encompasses systems and process for integrating internationalization (i18n) and localization (L10n) continuously into software product development. The key here is automation. Not necessarily of the actual translation via some machine translation magic, but managing legacy and new development for globalization issues and moving files for localization from the build to the translator and back again in a very visible and verified manner.

To do this, we automatically monitor software code repositories for i18n and L10n changes and issues/violations.

Continuous Globalization features include:

  • Visibility – Dashboard measurement and drill-down of i18n and L10n violations and changes via static analysis of source code repositories including tools for fixing problems early during development
  • Automation – Automated analysis, verification and exchanging of localization resource files from the build to translation (or translation management technologies) and back again to the build for staging and linguistic QA
  • Metrics – Tracking progress, coding quality, translation timing and more so that you can plan and improve

As you add and update features and locales to your software, you have an automated framework for faster, trouble-free global releases.

Why Continuous Globalization is important:

In practice, most software development endeavors treat localization as a delayed and often manually managed process, outside of ongoing sprints and releases. This is contrary to agile and good software development management practices.

Many if not most companies depend on development & QA teams to manually remember to check for i18n and L10n issues, while meeting other primary release objectives. Developers must  gather resource bundles for localization and  hand them off to localization, which naturally puts the workflow of development and localization at odds. The localization team is forced into reactive management, rather than proactive planning as they really have little visibility to what’s ahead. There’s all kinds of “bookkeeping” issues around managing what’s changed, not missing files, getting it out for localization, then putting it back in the source code. By nature, this delays the whole process, lends itself to handling errors later when the teams have moved on, shortchanges QA efforts and delays localized releases. It just takes longer with all those human processes. It’s costing you time, headcount, cleanup and it impacts the global imperatives of your company.

Lingoport has traditionally focused our product and services efforts on the i18n part of the effort. We’ve seen that there’s so much hassle involved in the development to localization interface and lived the problem ourselves when performing big i18n services implementation. Last year, we released Lingoport Resource Manager and Globalyzer Express to combine both internationalization and localization objectives. Now we’re seeing the solution in action.

Here is feedback one developer gave us:

“When I first started to work with language support I thought we would be lucky to have 80% translated strings in the product due to the complexities. Everybody is very pleased with the near 100% translations we got.”

We’re particularly proud of this. Most developers are not often kind with their feedback for localization in general.

In discussions around Continuous Globalization with localization managers, I am frequently asked if I intend to replace translation management systems. The answer is no. Continuous Globalization works even better when the two are connected.

I’ll be leading a webinar on August 27th that will detail what Continuous Globalization looks like with examples. I hope you can join us.

-Adam

PS You can register by clicking here and completing the form.

View the Recordings from the i18n & L10n Conference

Miss anything from this year’s Internationalization and Localization Conference? Have no fear. We recorded each of the sessions, and those sessions are now available for your viewing pleasure.

2013 Internationalization and Localization Conference Videos

All conference videos are available on Lingoport’s Vimeo page, here: http://vimeopro.com/lingoport/2013-internationalization-and-localization-conference

Click Here to View Recordings of the 2013 i18n & L10n Conference

Software Globalization Industry Terms

The software globalization industry, stemming from the blend of technical and lingual properties, is full of abbreviations, confusing terms, combinations of two or more words (portmanteau), and software engineering-type terms. We are here to help. Below is a list of software globalization industry terms, and their definitions.

Lingoport, a full-service internationalization consulting and i18n tools provider, is committed to create aind compile one of the industry’s most complete G11n terms and definitions page. Please note that we just recently started this initiative, so this page is work-in-progress. Check back frequently as we will be updating this list weekly. Also, we’d like to invite you to submit to us any corrections and missing terms and definitions that we haven’t included yet. Please send them to our content manager Mike at  @ mblack (at) lingoport.com.

 

Table of Contents

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Agile A software development process allowing for development in short sprints resulting in more frequent product releases. Read about Agile challenges for localization
ASCII The American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A character encoding scheme based on the ordering of the English alphabet to represent text for devices that use text.

B

Bidirectional text (BiDi) Text involving both left-to-right and right-to-left text directions. Read about the challenges of bidirectionalization.

C

Character encoding A system that pairs each character with its encoded version.
Character set A grouping of numbers and letters typically associated with an alphabet.
Code branching With any application consisting of a large number of files, it is necessary for development teams to split up on which source files they work on
Crowdsourcing The act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call.
Culturalization The process of culturally adapting a brand or product to a new market. Learn about product & brand culuralization

E

Embedded string A message within software code that will be seen by the user
Encoding The process of converting into a coded form

G

Globalization (g11n) Sometimes abbreviated as g11n, in this software context includes internationalization and localization.
Globalyzer Lingoport’s software for identifying internationalization issues and assisting in fixing them. It is built to scale to enterprise use as internationalization is rarely performed by any one individual within an organization. It consists of a server, used to centralize internationalization “rules and behaviors”, desktop software for analyzing and working with source code, and a command line tool for integrating with build processes and automating internationalization in ongoing development. Globalyzer is used in Lingoport’s consulting work and licensed for use by globally-focused companies such as Yahoo! and Cisco.

H

Hard-Coding Refers to the software development practice of embedding data directly into the source code or fixed formatting. Hard-coding requires the program’s source code to be changed any time the desired data changes, when it might be more convenient for the end user to change the detail by some means outside the program

I

Ideograms A graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. Read Keyboards and Internationalization
Input Method Editor (IME) A method used to input characters for languages with thousands of possible ideograms, notably Chinese, Japanese and Korean. It involves inputting sequences of key phrases to select a specific character or series or characters
Internationalization (i18n) Often abbreviated as i18n (i – then 18 letters – n), is the process of making a single code base locale-independent so the application can be easily localized to other locales with no source code changes.
Internationalization tool An executable program used to help development teams find and internationalize code quickly and efficiently. See, Globalyzer

J

Java internationalization See Javascript Internationalization – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

L

Legacy code Data already existing within an application that needs to be reviewed and reworked for internationalization.
Locale A geopolitical place or area, relevant in the context of configuring an operating system or application program with its character sets, date and time formats, currency formats, etc.
Localization (L10n) Often abbreviated as L10n, is the translation and application of locale specific terms and style so that a product is locale-specific – that is, it looks and reads like a product native to the market it is being sold in. Localization is typically priced based on locale requirements, word counts and other related presentation engineering and testing tasks that may be necessary after internationalization has occurred.
Localization of software The process of adapting software so that it may fit requirements of a specific locale.

M

Machine Translation (MT) The use of computer software that utilizes terminology glossaries and advanced grammatical to translate text.

P

Pseudo-Localization A software testing method used to test internationalization aspects of software by replacing localizable text to force the application to deal with a new interface.

Q

Quality Assurance (QA): The process of making certain of product excellence.

S

Simship Simultaneous shipment of a product (typically domestic and foreign releases).
Social Games A type of online game distributed primarily through social networks. They are characterized by community, built around the social network, and the ability to drop in and out of games.
Software internationalization The process of adapting a code base so that it may comply with multiple locale requirements.
Static analysis The analysis of computer software that is performed without executing programs build from that software.
String A message that will be seen by the user

T

Translation (xl8, t9n) The process of expressing a set of words from one language to another

U

Unicode A computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems. For more, see Unicode on Wikipedia
UTF-16 A character encoding for Unicode that uses either one or two 16-bid code units per code point
UTF-8 A character encoding for Unicode that can represent every character in the Unicode character set. It is also backwards compatable with ASCII

W

Waterfall A software development process in which progress flows downward through phases starting with conception and finishing with testing and production

X

XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format): An XML-based format for exchanging localization data, specifying elements and attributes.

Social & Mobile Apps and Globalization – Confessions of a g11n Veteran

Webinar recording: “Mobile Apps & Games Internationalization and Globalization” with Danica Brinton and Adam Asnes available for request: http://www.lingoport.com/webinars/mobile-apps-i18n-global-games-l10n-mobile-internationalization-localization/

Guest Article: Social & Mobile Apps and Globalization – Confessions of a g11n Veteran

By Danica Brinton, localization professional.

I have been in the international-production, international-product-management and globalization business for over 12 years. Over the past four, I have been focused on online games, social and mobile games and applications. I realize that my continued focus on and fascination with this particular area has a lot to do with the instant gratification that results from globalizing in the social/mobile space. Sure I have seen great results from globalizing software, handhelds, CPU’s, search and web services, but the dramatic increase in the overall user base and revenue coming from localization of social games, mobile games and applications provides the best – and the most immediate – business case to invest in international expansion. I find that I must put in place the following prerequisites in order to secure both a quick return on the investment and a continued long-term growth:

  1. Market-tier strategy based on extensive market research, statistical data analysis, competitive study and multi-factor estimates/projections.
  2. Language-selection strategy based on the market-tier strategy, analysis of the barrier to entry in a given market, legal and cultural investigation
  3. Locale-specific product positioning
  4. Internationalization with the standard and scalable framework to support rapid continuous SBML/simship localization
  5. International payments strategy that encompasses a comprehensive set of locally popular payment methods and local currencies
  6. Cross-functional organization to support global operations
  7. International production organization that understands the specifics, intricacies and unique challenges posed by the social/mobile app development and rapid market movements
  8. Scalable localization processes, tools and infrastructure adapted to the content, platform, speed of development, release processes, market requirements, and budget constraints
  9. High-quality of translation

Social and Mobile Apps Localization

Fast-moving social and mobile apps prominently require continuous localization, tightly integrated into the build system, in SBML (single-binary multilingual) simship method. At Zynga, for example, we introduced daily releases in SBML/simship for up to 18 languages.

Other than aggressive and frequent simship releases, the new social and mobile apps also require that they be localized at launch into as many languages as planned. Staggered releases will not be nearly as successful as out-of-the-gate simship.

No doubt about it, social games will be played by millions of people but only if the game and its language are compelling enough to draw the user into the game. The viral nature of these games allows a player to pull in dozens of their Facebook friends. This can only happen if a user enjoys the game and its mechanics so much that they want to brag about it to their friends . The game mechanics are heavily verbal and any barrier to immersion, particularly any issues in the target-language must be removed. As a rule, the English text in these games is 1. written rapidly, conforming to the speed of development; 2. full of American slang. Even though it is string based and highly technical in the approach, game translation is more akin to literary translation and international copy writing than software string translation.

Trends in Mobile and Games Globalization

A large % of social game players have friends in other countries and play social games with speakers of different languages. After all, more than 75% of Facebook is outside of the US. The multilingual nature of the game virals becomes another unique translation and internationalization/localizaton challenge.

Most prominent social games have over 70% of the overall user base and over 50% of revenue coming from localized locales – localization can increase the locale-specific traffic by 80%-300%. I’ve seen that localized mobile apps can expect to expand their user base and downloads by 40%-50% when the developer adopts the right strategies and is willing to implement an aggressive continuous localization. As mobile games get more viral features and capabilities AND as the smart-phone adoption grows internationally, that percentage will continue to grow rapidly.

Another new trend is cross-platform apps and games – releasing games that can be simultaneously/real-time played on multiple devices, i.e. switching from Facebook to iPhone to Android. Localization of these apps has its own set of challenges that appropriate locale strategies and continuous localization can address.

The market tier strategy is different for FB vs. iPhone vs. Android apps. However, the common thread is that new markets are emerging in top tier language sets in all three platforms. For example, Turkish, Norwegian, and Brazilian Portuguese are counted in the tier-1 language set for many social games on Facebook alongside more traditional FIGS. Meanwhile, the poster child of tier-1 markets — Japan — falls into tier-3 on the Facebook platform. And China is not accessible for Facebook users.

Some new languages can be very profitable but their globalization could become a huge challenge for the new app makers unaccustomed to i18n or l10n. At LocLabs, for instance, we built large teams and extensive expertise to support Arabic and Thai globalization for Apple as well as a number of our app-developer clients.

Mobile and Games Globalization in Emerging Markets

Often quoted is the fact about rapid growth of the India and China mobile markets. While I found that India and China are incredible new mobile markets, India does not still necessitate language localization and Mainland China is still not ROI positive for smart-phone app localization. Taiwan and Hong Kong are profitable but small. Smart-phone manufacturers, however, are eagerly competing for the Asian market and are incentivizing app makers to localize into Chinese and Korean, prominently.

Much of the above content will be discussed in more detail in the upcoming webinar on Games and Mobile App Globalization that I am holding on December 1st with Adam Asnes of Lingoport.

About LocLabs

Danica Brinton runs her own company, LocLabs, specializing in international product management, international strategy, localizability/i18n, localization, localization testing, content management, and international feature development. Danica has held leadership positions in international product management, strategy and globalization at Zynga, Yahoo!, Second Life, Ask.com, and Apple, Inc.

Worldware: Software Static Analysis

This presentation from Adam Asnes and Olivier Libouban of Lingoport progresses from beginning an internationalization plan to actually implementing that effort. There’s a big difference in describing the process of externalizing Unicode strings and actually doing it through an executable plan. This four-part presentation will dive into using internationalization static analysis using Globalyzer while looking over the metrics for success in such a project.

Part 1: The business case for internationalization, character encoding, a Java internationalization example and an overview of Globalyzer’s static analysis.

You may also view this presentation on Slideshare:  http://www.slideshare.net/Lingoport/wordware-2011-lingoporti18nplanningstaticanalysis

Part 2: Requirements in i18n software engineering, locale and code architecture analysis:

Part 3: An example of how Globalyzer is used

Part 4: An internationalization project plan:

Worldware Demo Derby: Globalization

Last month, four companies assembled at the Worldware Conference to discuss their innovative global products. In this rapid-fire presentation, Sagan with GCMS, Lingoport, acrolinx and RIGI present a quick overview of their products in just ten minutes.

Presented by:

  • Jeff Kent, serving in various roles with Sajan
  • Olivier Libouban, senior project manager with Lingoport
  • Kent Taylor, senior vice president and founder of acrolinx
  • Daniel Goldschmidt, of RIGI Localization Solutions
Presentation time notes:
  • Lingoport-> 0:00-10:00
  • acrolinx-> 10:00-26:00
  • Sajan-> 26:00-37:00
  • RIGI-> 37:00-50:00
  • Questions->50:00-end

Worldware Presentation – The New Information Revolution

Information is being created more quickly and by more people every day. Anybody with internet access now has the ability to spread news and information at broadband speeds. This means that news is coming from millions of point sources, enhancing the web of information that we have already come to know. This information revolution presents a crossroads for companies: get lost in the clutter, or stand out like never before. In this presentation, Andrew Bredenkamp of acrolinx will go over strategies in producing high quality product information that will enhance customer experience and boost development.

Presented by:

Worldware Presentation – The Rise of Chindia: Opportunity or Threat?

The rise of China and India (Chindia) has had a significant impact on the global economy as their markets have opened up to western companies and their labor force has become more highly educated. This presentation delves into the game changing effects Chindia has on already developed economies; specifically, do China and India pose an opportunity? Or are they a threat to take over previously developed businesses?

Presented by:

  • Nitish Singh, assistant professor of international business at the Boeing Institute of International Business at Saint Louis University and the program leader for the Executive Certificate in Web Globalization.