As part of Lingoport’s October webinar, Bringing a Human Touch to Continuous L10n, we interviewed our featured guest speaker, Paul Hegarty, Head of Engineering at Iota, to get some quick insights into the current state and future of localization. Specifically, Paul explores how advances in automation technology is impacting the customization, speed, and quality of localization output.
How has Localization evolved since you began in the industry? Where do you see the industry 10 years from now?
Paul Hegarty: Massively. I started in the l10n industry in 1994, and large QA teams were a part of all l10n providers. Manuals were printed, software was mass produced on disk sets and CDs, online was really only in its infancy. Cloud computing has completely changed how we work, QA is now a mixture of shorter, targeted test passes with the ability to fix issues almost “live”. Updates are now much more frequent and less static, they can occur at any time, and for numerous reasons. The cloud has completely changed how we work, how we communicate, how projects are run and delivered. Online technologies have replaced a lot of the desktop technologies we used – documentation is now usually built via web based build systems rather than compiled on a desktop. In another 10 years I see the industry being further distanced from the concept of “desktop” computing – everything we do will be in the cloud, and we’ll become more and more device agnostic.
Why has customizability become so important for L10n?
Paul Hegarty: The variety of file types, the content within those file types and how dev teams address l10n (which is often a low priority) mean that what we actually get to translate is far from a standard format. While some long established dev teams have their product well prepared for l10n, many of the products we see are new (that’s becoming more common), with the result that a proper l10n strategy has not been defined. In a lot of cases, a proper strategy might never be defined as these products are under constant change. Hence, we often find ourselves having to customize solutions for individual projects to make sure our translators can access everything they need to access, in a manner that is productive for them, whilst hiding them from the material that they don’t want or need to see. The other element to this is the very granular requirements around some of the projects we see, where certain components of a project might be translatable in one language but not in others. So not only are we customizing for a massive variety of file formats, but the complexity of translation requirements of the overall project is increasing also.
How have advances in L10n technology and processes impacted the quality, speed, and needs of L10n??
Paul Hegarty: I think the demands of l10n customers are driving the l10n technologies, not the other way around. Our industry and the technologies we employ are driven by the increasing demands of our customers. Speed is crucial as release schedules get tighter and tighter, and volumes continue to grow. Efficient reuse of previous translation is critical to the success of projects that are constantly being updated.
What would you describe as the leading challenge of blending technologies and customizability?
Paul Hegarty: For me, that is deciding when you employ and pay for an off-the-shelf technology compared with a customized solution. For established projects with large volumes and lots of updates, where the workflow is defined, it makes sense that a technology solution will work (and importantly will be worth paying for). For new projects, not so defined (dev teams unfamiliar with l10n), with smaller volumes and constantly changing formats and requirements, customized solutions are the answer as the overhead in terms of time and expense for technology solutions often will not be an option.
What is the biggest opportunity to improve L10n processes?
Paul Hegarty: Hard question to answer – in the ideal world, l10n being part of the dev approach to product design – all to often, l10n is an afterthought. From our perspective, being able to adapt to our customers’ needs, advise and educate on best practices around l10n and always reviewing our processes and approach to our customers’ projects is the answer. Improvement is a continuous goal.
- Date: October 24th, 2019
- Time: 9AM Pacific, Noon Eastern, 18:00 CEST
- Duration: 40 minutes, plus audience Q&A