Not Just Software. Medical Device Software.

Guest Blog post by Andres Heuberger, CEO and Founder of ForeignExchange Translations.

While any software localization can be challenging, medical device software adds yet another layer of complexity to the equation. This complexity comes from the fact that software is so integral to the functioning and therapy of a device that is keeping a person alive. Regulators are acknowledging this and device companies have to deal with new rules and new challenges.

Software Localization, Internationalization, and TranslationWith the advent of the new Medical Device Directive (MDD) amended by Directive 2007/47/EC and implemented six months ago, software is now included in the definition of a medical device. It does not matter whether the software is integrated into the actual device or is a stand-alone product. Software validation will also be an Essential Requirement (ER 12.1a) under the MDD. Annex I, Essential Requirement 12.1 has been amended to include that software must be validated, taking into account the principles of development lifecycle, risk management, validation and verification. In this context, proper software internationalization is even more important.

Software code needs to be able to handle different characters such as diacritical marks, as well as user inputs. User prompts need to be unambiguous and clear, especially since the prompts can be presented at times of user stress and emergency situations. Some device companies have started to use cognitive debriefing techniques which were, until now, reserved for the validation of pharmaceutical patient-reported outcomes, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of software interfaces. Having to carry this out in multiple languages and geographies can complicate development projects, not to mention the costs involved. On the translation side of medical device software, there is a narrow skill set for linguists, who must be able to translate software strings out of context, understand medical terminology and, in many cases, be savvy enough to test localized software on different platforms.

All is not bleak though. The companies who are most successful with their software localization are the ones who build projects specifications with localization in mind from the start and who lean on their translation providers for support from project inception through to final testing. It’s a brave new world, and medical device companies have no choice but to embrace it and understand the regulations and implications while devising new ways of working.

ForeignExchange Translations provides specialized medical translation and localization solutions to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. For more information, visit

The Localization Technology Round Table Event Series

View all presentations here

The Localization Technology Round Table brings together five industry leaders to present an open technology framework that speeds up time to market and drastically reduces your localization and translation costs.

Together, Lingoport, Acrolinx, Clay Tablet, Milengo and Asia Online will show how advanced, modular localization technology addresses the challenges faced when launching products or services to international markets in multiple languages.

You’ll learn the key considerations when taking an international product from design to launch through, Internationalization, Information Authoring, Content Management, Localization and Translation Automation.

And you’ll learn how this is achievable quickly, and with fewer resources, while maintaining a consistent brand and user experience that builds value, saves time and reduces costs.

You will also:

  • Access a wealth of localization experience from industry experts
  • Discover new technologies and new ways of working that are already changing the localization landscape
  • Learn strategies that can streamline your localization efforts and help you quickly launch products worldwide
  • Share information with like-minded peers and learn proven practices that you’ll find nowhere else

The Localization Technology Round Table event is free of charge, space is limited, and scheduled to be held at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel on Tuesday, October 19th in Boston.

Please note that the Wednesday, October 20th event in New York and the Thursday, October 21st event in Washington, DC will have to be rescheduled for 2011.


8am – 9am: Continental Breakfast and Networking

9am: Introduction

Renato Beninatto from Milengo provides an introduction to the event, the speakers and an overview of the presentations.

9:05am: Software Internationalization Best Practices by Adam Asnes of Lingoport
A leader in software internationalization solutions introduces the challenge of taking a complex software/hardware product to market in multiple languages. Lingoport will show how internationalization at the earliest stages of product design results in gains in efficiency and cost reductions further down the localization value chain.

You’ll learn:

  • How to make your software work in all languages
  • Why translation is crucial to sales success
  • How internationalization drives efficiency in the localization value chain

Acrolinx - Technology for Information Quality

9:20am: Information Quality Management Solutions by Kent Taylor of acrolinx
The world’s leading provider of Information Quality Management Solutions will show how to deliver quality product and technical information faster and for less money, despite time-to-market pressures, insufficient editing staff, and rapidly changing technology.

You’ll learn:

  • How to save 15% – 25% on translation costs with quality source content
  • What you need to know to improve your processes today
  • Quality Management in the Information Development Environment

Clay Tablet Technologies

9:35am: Content Management, Customer Relationship Management and Product Information Management System Integration by Robinson Kelly of Clay Tablet
A leader in localization efficiency solutions shows how automated translation processes make it simple to deliver product support and technical content from any Content Management, Customer Relationship Management or Product Information Management system and deliver significant reductions in localization costs and time to market.

You’ll learn:

  • How Business Information Systems can be leveraged to deliver multilingual content.
  • How sending content for translation is easy and hassle free
  • How an automated workflow improves time to market and reduces costs when launching international products.

9:50am: Break and refreshments


10:00am: Localization and Translation Best Practices by Renato Beninatto of Milengo
A global provider of language services to Fortune 500 companies shows how multi-language vendors blend advanced localization workflows and technology to deliver multi-language translations quicker and, at a lower cost.

You’ll learn:

  • How rapid market expansion requires rapid translation results
  • Why human translation is important and the areas it really makes a difference
  • How machines and humans can work together to tackle large volume multi language projects

Asia Online

10:15am: Machine Translation Technology Integration by Kirti Vashee of Asia Online
A leader in Translation Technology shows how Machine Translation can make a huge impact on localization productivity delivering more words, faster and at a lower average cost.

You’ll learn:

  • How the real time content model is set to change the localization landscape and how MT is poised to address this challenge.
  • How MT can enable new kinds of projects never considered before, including those with millions of words.
  • How large volume MT projects can facilitate rapid market expansion

10:30am: Q&A

10:50am: Break / Refreshments

11am – 2pm: Networking / Consultation / One-on-one Discussions

In the final part of the event you’ll have the opportunity to speak individually with any of the presenters to answer your questions and discuss how the concepts covered can benefit you.


Renato Beninatto
CEO & Chief Instigator at Milengo

Renato BeninattoRenato is a corporate strategist and market research evangelist with nearly 30 years of executive-level leadership in the localization industry. A native of Brazil, Renato serves on the Advisory Board of Localization World and remains an active member of several industry groups worldwide, including the American Translators Association (ATA), the European Language Industry Association, the Association of Language Companies (ALC), and the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA).

Kent Taylor
General Manager at acrolinx

Kent TaylorKent Taylor defines himself as a Recovering Pubs Director and a 30-year enterprise publishing veteran, experienced in all aspects of information development and delivery, with a strong focus on people, process, technology, and quality.  And, he is always seeking the Holy Grail: cost, quality, and timeliness – all at the same time!

Kirti Vashee
Vice President of Enterprise Translation Sales at Asia Online

Kirti VasheeKirti Vashee is a seasoned sales and marketing executive of technology products who has built a reputation as an evangelist for SMT technology. He has been a prominent and accomplished speaker on automated translation technology in a variety of localization and globalization technology focused conferences around the world.

Robinson Kelly
CEO & Founder of Clay Tablet Technologies

Robinson KellyRobinson is a technology entrepreneur and business start-up veteran. Clay Tablet is the fourth start-up technology company he’s been involved with over the past 15 years, including, working in Silicon Valley launching a content management firm. Robinson is now responsible for the sustained growth of the company by driving strategy, managing major partnerships, setting goals and directing the team.

President & CEO of Lingoport

Adam Asnes founded Lingoport in 2001 after seeing firsthand that the niche for software globalization engineering products and services was underserved in the localization industry. Adam AsnesLingoport helps globally focused technology companies adapt their software for worldwide markets with expert internationalization and localization consulting and Globalyzer software. Globalyzer, a market leading software internationalization tool, helps entire enterprises and development teams to effectively internationalize existing and newly developed source code and to prepare their applications for localization.

Internationalization and Canada

This article was originally featured in the September 2010 issue of MultiLingual Computing Magazine, in Adam Asnes’ Business Side column. Read article “Internationalization (I18n) in Canada” on MultiLingual’s Website.

Canada represents one of the most accessible opportunities to test the waters of global expansion for companies which are new to adapting their software for worldwide customers. As I’ve written in nearly every one of these columns, internationalization and ultimately localization is driven first by business needs, partners, strategies and partners. That said, the bulk of this particular article takes a U.S.-centric view of software adaptation for Canada, particularly for companies new to globalization.

Business Case

From a U.S. perspective, there’s little barrier to doing business in Canada. After all, we share time zones, language and even phone number formatting. You can get there easily. Often, as in the case of my own firm, you end up selling there without even making a specific effort. Some 34 million people live in Canada (less than the population of California), however, most people live within driving distance of the U.S. border – and yes it’s a long border. In general, Canadians are quite informed regarding US culture and current events, though they are quite proud of their own economic strength and differences. They are also culturally committed to bilingualism. Personally, as a former New Yorker, about the only drawback to Canada is that they don’t jay walk – even when nobody is around to know, and everyone is so polite.  But I digress.

Most companies that my firm has supported for internationalization went to Canada for specific market- partner reasons. They had a client, whether internal or external, needing product adaptation including Canadian French. Clients who adapt their software for “deal-based” reasons, rather than part of a broad global marketing initiative usually have different needs-drivers reflected in deadlines, resources and scope. This can affect the balance of immediacy, costs and completeness.

Now, let me make it clear that I’m not writing that you absolutely have to provide French support for your software or site if you’re doing business in Canada. Note that I’m purposely not citing any specific Canadian law regarding bilingualism, as I’ve seen what has worked in practice. In that respect, it’s just like any other locale where you make a decision to localize based on business requirements. However, if you’re going to sell to the Canadian government, or sell broadly in Quebec, or if your business partner/customer is using your product to do the same, then Canada is the perfect market to get started with on your internationalization efforts.

A funny occurrence is that at my company, we’ve even worked with Canadian firms that went through the effort of releasing and building their customer base, using English only, and then needed help as their business opportunities expanded to require French Canadian support.


As your Canadian opportunities require, you may indeed need to adapt your product to better support clientele. Support for Canada is similar to any multiple locale adaptation, in that you would internationalize by adding a locale framework for the interface, various cultural formats (i.e. postal code sorting rather than zip codes), data input, database adaptations, business logic as needed (i.e. VAT, shipping differences, and the like). But even string externalization can have its multiple steps and processes to be successful. Here’s a summary of basic internationalization tasks:

  • Design – establish requirements, locale selection and string externalization framework. Plan changes to the database schema.
  • Implement String Externalization/Locale Framework – string externalization doesn’t just happen by itself. You have to create the framework so it uses your programming language convention and works for your current and future locale support needs.
  • String Identification – here’s where a tool like Globalyzer, a leading internationalization tool,  really helps. Finding and isolating user-facing strings buried in large amounts of code, differentiated from programmatic elements like database calls, debug statements and variable arguments is otherwise pretty time consuming. The traditional approach is to write a few scripts and go through page by page and then clean up during testing. At best this is an error prone path. At its worst, it’s a never complete effort that drags on and on. So you’ll want to find the strings, see them in context and take action.
  • String Externalization – Once identified, you’ll need to remove strings from within your source code, and place them in a resource file appropriate for your programming language and application. Each string has a call, plus a unique ID (usually a number), that will retrieve the string appropriate to the locale when the program is run. It’s a bit of a bookkeeping problem, and though many IDE’s will provide one by one string externalization support, Globalyzer helps this go lots faster by letting you perform batch string externalization operations, once the strings have been identified and reviewed.
  • Formatting Changes – You can get away with quite a bit, getting ready for Canada. You’ll need to support postal codes as opposed to zip codes and any changes to processing them. But you can get away with US date time formatting of month/day/year if necessary.
  • Database Changes – Chances are good that if you are using a modern commercial database, even with the default setup, you have support for ISO-Latin 1 characters, which of course handle English, French and other Western European languages. Still, you’ll need to adapt your schema to support multiple locales. Note that you will not need Unicode for Canada, but if you can swing it, and your code base technologies are Unicode friendly, then it’s a worthwhile consideration if you have further global release aspirations. Most don’t until they have to.
  • String Refactoring – inevitably, a percentage of your strings will be concatenated, or broken into sections and built with programming logic. As word orders and sentence structure will change depending upon language, these strings will need to be refactored. This inevitably takes extra time. Again, string reports tend to help find these faster than combing through code manually or through retroactive testing.
  • Layout Issue Correction – Chances are also good that you’ll need to make layout corrections as strings expand to support language changes. If you are unlucky enough to be concerned that your application supports ASCII characters only, you’ll need to find the various bottlenecks for ISO-Latin characters so that you don’t have problems with extended characters such as accents.
  • Testing – consider how long it takes to test your product for a major release, and then add time for including systematic functional testing using pseudo-localization for functional issues, and linguistic testing for context accuracy. You could write a whole article on the relationship of these two alone. For more information, see last issue’s column on sim-ship across locales.

The trap in all this is that some companies make first efforts with a highly limited understanding of the scope of how this changes their application. Just in the last week, I started a conversation with a new client who only saw this effort as a string externalization exercise and literally was measuring costs per string, rather than the full picture. String handling represents the bulk of the visible effort, but without attention to the other processes, you’ll get something that at best works awkwardly. I consider that an educational opportunity, but I’ve also seen this limited understanding all too often exhibited by localization firms who should know better. Not introducing a more complete scope may give a client the minimum information they want quoted, but it places a successful implementation experience in real jeopardy.

When you add all these tasks together, internationalization and then localization, even when only considered for Canadian requirements, is still a significant product development undertaking. It will require expertise, proper forward looking product development planning and a level of reconcilability with other parallel product feature developments. For all the reasons mentioned in prior articles, including new testing criteria and objectification of locale, internationalization will make your product better and more adaptable if done right.

About the Author

Adam Asnes is President and CEO at Lingoport and enjoys investigating how globalization technology affects businesses expanding their worldwide reach. Adam is a sought after speaker at industry events and a columnist on globalization technology as it affects businesses expanding their worldwide reach. He often writes articles for localization, internationalization and globalization industry publications and enjoys cycling and Colorado’s Rocky Mountains; he can be reached by clicking here.

Lingoport’s Internationalization (I18n) and Localization (L10n) Tools and Consulting Solutions

Founded in 2001, Lingoport provides extensive software localization and internationalization consulting services. Lingoport’s Globalyzer software, a market leading software internationalization tool, helps entire enterprises and development teams to effectively internationalize existing and newly developed source code and to prepare their applications for localization.

For more information on how Lingoport can assist you with all of your internationalization and localization needs, please contact us at, call 303.444.8020, or contact us here.

The business case why US companies need to internationalize their software in order to sell to the Canadian Government

In Adam Asnes’ article in the September 2010 issue of MultiLingual, he illustrated how business cases for US companies can drive their need to internationalize their software in order to sell to the Canadian Government, or to sell broadly in Quebec. I liked in his article how he mentioned that companies may adapt their software because of sales-driven reasons rather than part of a broad global marketing initiative, which have “different needs-drivers reflected in deadlines, resources and scope” than regular, consistent localization projects.

Adam goes on to describe very well, for both the techie and sales person alike (me for example), what needs to be completed to get the software localization-ready and how Lingoport rocks at helping companies with that process. Here at Milengo, we assist clients with their language support commonly after Lingoport has finished their work. And we too notice clients’ needs for Canadian Language support is different when it is deal-based, rather than as part of a broader sales plan, so I too will focus my ideas on that part. I wanted to use this blog to illustrate some examples of projects we’ve worked on to give readers ideas on what processes and technology are available and what is do-able, to help stretch your budget when sales lands a big new deal in Canada.

Let’s make the assumption that your company is doing very well and the software you produce is awesome. Sales are booming in North America. The Sales Director got a big contract with the Canadian Government. Big deal and big money. It’s signed after the champagne has been popped, you’re told that you have 3 months to deliver a Canadian French version, with documentation, since it’s required by law in Canada. And if it’s late, the company will have to pay a fine for every-day its late, eating into profits and good will. So after a big gulp of bubbly, the process begins.

Luckily, you know Lingoport already from Adam’s excellent articles in Multilingual. His company helps your developers in completing the i18n of the software so that it can be localized. He did it on-budget and before he promised, just because that’s how Lingoport rolls. Milestone 1 completed. Then you see you have about 10,000 strings for translation as well as help and user manuals, which require about 200,000 words for translation. Oy vey. The volume is too much for your staff in Canada to do it internally within this timeframe. What options can you consider?

Option 1: Have an LSP do the translation for you. Luckily, your sales team collaborated with you closely and the deal was priced to allow for high-quality human translations in Canada. You can create a glossary from the software translation, which forms a bed-rock for future updates. Consistency in your software, documentation and customer communication is recorded and used across all documents, lowering costs, increasing quality and enhancing the brand experience (a big topic that we’ll go into another time). Sounds good, right? With all those happy French-speaking Canadian customers, it may get you thinking that a more developed localization strategy might not be a bad idea after all?

Option 2: Your sales team did not collaborate with you, and the overall price of the package sold was too low. Your manager is balking at the double-digit figures for the cost of the documentation localization since the budget is not available and you have limited financial resources. Alternatively, perhaps its not a priority to have this done with high-quality human translations since this is a one-off deal. Options to consider include:

  • One of Milengo’s customers had some 1.5 million words of help-desk and customer support information that needed to be translated in a month a half in order to outsource call-center operations. Do-able? Yes! Did they have a budget of ~ $500,000? No. To get around this we worked with our partner AsiaOnline to develop a customized, enterprise-level statistical machine translation engine that uses sophisticated algorithms to provide machine translation results. To make the translations publish-ready, human linguists reviewed the machine translation output to correct errors, fix stylistic problems, etc so that it looked and felt correct. The overall saving was over 50%.
  • You want to leverage your in-house team of people in Canada, but need to make them more efficient. How about taking the glossary from your UI and use it as a basis within the Google Translator Toolkit? The Google engine will produce a translation for you using your glossary as a reference point, and afterwards, your in-house team can correct and fix the errors and improve style. Or you can have an LSP like Milengo do it for you. Depending on the nature of the content or corporate culture, if may not be appropriate, but it is an option that you can consider. Google is doing more and more of their own translations this way, and we’ve helped them with correcting the output of their translations using their own toolkit.

Option 3: You can do a mishmash of all 3 above. The UI is translated by your in-house staff (i.e “the humans”) since they are the experts. The documentation is translated by AsiaOnline’s customized statistical machine translation with human post-editing, and Google Translator Toolkit is used for internal communication in Canadian French <> English.

Option 4: While the above mentioned scenario is unlikely since you are internationalizing your software for the first time, if you did have a French translation, we could leverage that considerably. An adaptation from Continental French to Canadian can be done. While both languages are French, there are of course differences and copy-editors can go through and change terminology, style and make the local feel local, saving considerable time and budget.

There you have it. Of course each option, scenario and client requirement is more complicated and detailed than portrayed here, but hopefully it gets the juices flowing in terms of what can be done.

Post written by Adam Blau, Rebellion Leader at Milengo, a global language services provider.

Worldware Conference Summary – Not as Good as Being There

In March I attended and presented at the first Worldware Conference, which took place in Santa Clara, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. I became really excited about this conference as it proved to be the first to directly target business issues around software internationalization and globalization. Too often in other conferences, the focus is very low level on technical issues, while missing greater business planning and operational issues that affect every organization that looks to build and maintain world-ready products. In fact, that issue had been a long running annoyance for me when attending conferences like Unicode and LocalizationWorld. So I was eager to get involved in Worldware and sat on its board as well.

The conference had outstanding material, and featured various business leaders from well known world software brands. The downside was that the conference was not particularly well attended. There were probably a total of about 70 people there, including speakers, but at least we all got to know one another. Presentations featured executives from companies like EMC, Microsoft, Linden Labs, Oracle, Mozilla, Sun, Adobe, Yahoo!, Intel, various industry consultants and of course me.

Here’s a few items from my notes and memory, in little particular order:

  • Don Depalma, of CommonSense Advisory, had some excellent data showing return on investment and overwhelming customer preference for software which was internationalized with locale sensitive language and formatting support. His numbers were of the Holy Grail that managers have been asking for. A big point was that even when end-users are perfectly capable of reading, writing and speaking English, they vastly preferred software in their own language to the point where they made choices and spent more in line with that preference. Don had data broken down even per country. I can’t wait to poach some of these slides.
  • Common points were that i18n is an enabler for localization and ultimately revenues. A way to waste a ton of money is to pursue localization before you’ve properly internationalized.
  • Organizations like Mozilla and Linden Labs are making great use of crowdsourcing to enable new features and localization. So if you have a product which has an emotional type of rabid following, crowdsourcing is a relatively new form of getting help, though it needs its own adaptation for management.
  • Some companies, like EMC, must simultaneously ship for all top tier locales when releasing new products. So globalization isn’t an afterthought.
  • Executives don’t understand internationalization but understand the cascading effect.
  • Invest in internationalization expertise. Too expensive to “wing” it.
  • Empower product teams
  • Create i18n boot camp training
  • Some companies demonstrated that they have built whole organizational frameworks to support internationalization. Particularly Intel and Yahoo! presented how they are using technologies for automatically auditing global readiness. Happy to say Globalyzer got many accolades.
  • There was a lively Agile (extremely popular development methodology) discussion as it relates to internationalization. This is because if i18n is built into the product development from the start Agile works great. When there are Agile cycles and i18n on existing code going on simultaneously, both efforts are very unlikely to synchronize well. Lots of reasons for this, which would probably make a great future article for this newsletter. This issue came up multiple times and Tony Jewteshenko gave a whole presentation session on it (but I wasn’t able to attend that one).
  • It’s extremely difficult to take back a language after you release for a particular market. So consider that request for your software in Klingon carefully.
  • How you communicate around the world will empower your organization.
  • Brand recognition
  • Market Share
  • ROI
  • I presented along with Daniel Goldschmidt on how to get an i18n effort going
  • Technical buyer, vs. Management objectives
  • Need to get a good plan for budget approval first, design second
  • Showed Globalyzer 3.0 and scanned some open source code
  • Demonstrated a project plan
  • Daniel broke down i18n projects into a 3 phase approach
  • Transportation – moving data from A to B
  • Application – doing something with the data (e.g. sorting)
  • User Interfaces
  • Then we both talked about keeping software world-ready and answered questions
  • Kamal Monsour of Monotype Imaging gave a most informative presentation showing intricacies of digital fonts in languages like Arabic and Hindi.
  • I was on a panel along with Ed Watts of Oracle and Mike McKenna from Yahoo! on Assessing and Quantifying efforts. Ed emphasized the role of pseudo-localization. Mike was his usual incredible reservoir of information and experiences both organizationally and on the technical side in supporting i18n. I talked about how we essentially have had to learn to estimate and execute internationalization projects and still make a profit, and that’s why we’ve created tools and methodologies to do so.
  • Aaron Marcus of Aaron Marcus and Associates gave a presentation on cross cultural user-experience design showing many cultural differences, certain scales by which cultures accept power hierarchies and how that shows up in site design.
  • Mike McKenna showed a fabulous presentation on trends in internationalizing which featured several i18n initiatives at Yahoo! As a bonus, I got a Fight Mojibake sticker (ghost characters), which is now on my notebook. In particular, they work to get people enthusiastic and understanding that they are creating products for the world. He also talked about how his team supports i18n with tools like Globalyzer. Thanks Mike.
  • Barbara Burbach of Cisco talked about staffing models, including outsourcing for i18n and l10n. She felt i18n outsourcing for an existing product was a good idea, as it keeps the core development team focused on new features. For new products being internationalized from the beginning, she preferred in house engineering.
  • Tex Texin (i18n Guy) discussed how he has worked with various teams to promote internationalization, and how decisions were often affected. He also gave Globalyzer a nice recommendation. Tex was formerly in charge of internationalization at Yahoo! and NetApp, both of which are Lingoport customers. Thanks Tex.

I’ve missed a ton in this quick summary, as I haven’t managed to master being in two places at once and couldn’t have attended all the sessions.