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What is Localization?

Localization, in a general sense,  is the adaptation of a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s “look-and-feel.” Successfully localized software appears to the user to  have been developed within the local culture.

Localization is essential for every software product being developed for a global market.

But localization is not without its challenges. Traditionally, nearly every software company encounters the exact same set of issues when striving to tap into new markets, a localization effort that is:

  • Tedious
  • Expensive
  • Inefficient

The innate challenges that come with managing localization projects have led many software company leaders to ask, “Isn’t there a better way?” Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

History of localization technology

As software companies began to expand globally in the 1980’s, and large software companies began to realize that they needed to adapt their offerings to diverse, global  populations, the concept of localization was born. 

Initially, localization was completed internally. Software companies had both development and localization teams, and when development was complete, code would be turned over to localization. This was a labor intensive and inefficient system.

Soon, companies realized that localization was an area best served by outsourcing and by the 1990’s several large multi-lingual businesses had sprouted. These businesses offered software companies a way to localize using a team of specialists.

Now translation  management systems (TMS), sometimes also known as machine translation (MT) solutions, translate software text into the desired language with zero human intervention. This is known as “no-touch localization.”

Localization technology is a way to make software  both manageable for productivity and uniform in terms of meaning.

There are many elements that are modified in both software and content localization. These elements include text, layout, graphics and multimedia, keyboard shortcuts, fonts, character sets and locale data, as well as the product’s build process and packaging.

Localization technology uses machine learning that makes the process faster, less expensive and less prone to human error.

How to choose the right localization technology for your business

Choosing the right localization technology specifically for software has to do with what will interface and support your development organization the best. 

You need something that scales for the size of your organization –  scalability, throughput, and flexibility. 

Localization automation solutions allow organizations to circumvent all of the pitfalls that have traditionally been associated with localizing applications. Specifically, localization automation technology allows:

Freedom from Error-Laden Practices: Manual localization strategies set your project up for failure. Even the most detail-oriented localization teams are bound to make mistakes on occasion. This is due to the innate complexity of localizing an application for a new market. 

Streamlining the Localization Process: Technology like Lingoprt’s Localyzer not only eliminates the need for error-laden manual processes, but also expedites localization. Speed to market plays a critical role in the success, or failure, of growth aspirations. If you can deliver a quality product to a new local market efficiently, you can keep your growth momentum high and make a big splash among your target demographics. 

Development and Localization Team Alignment: Using traditional localizing strategies, your localization and core development team may struggle to be aligned. This lack of alignment sets the stage for inefficiencies to abound, as localization teams have to disrupt the DevOps group’s sprint if they encounter issues during the localization process. 

Lingoport’s Localyzer & Localyzer QA

Localization QA for software is a particularly convoluted process. After human translation, a linguist will check the application. If a translation change is needed, they will typically file a bug, perhaps including a screenshot and comment of what needs to be changed. Those bugs get reviewed and prioritized. Someone has to track down the string (words) to be retranslated. The application needs to be retested and approved. Often there are many additional interim steps. 

Localization QA corrections can take months or even years to fix.

Localization QA can be easy and it can fundamentally change the methods and cadence of software localization.

  • Using Localyzer, new features in development can be immediately translated in seconds via connections to several machine translation engines, including those in use by TMSs.
  • Developers get immediate feedback on how their features work and appear in multiple languages, rather than waiting for a human translation process late in a sprint.
  • Translation is always-on, with no concern about minimum human translation charges.
  • Translators can edit the Machine Translations right in the context of the application, delivering a higher quality translation included in the QA process.

Current localization process waits until late in a sprint or series of sprints for source strings to finish any changes – so late in a current development process. Words go out for translation, usually with machine translation being applied in a translation workbench, then edited by human translators. Then they get returned to the development team. 

Localyzer automates all that, but even with this streamlined process approach, there is a globalization lag from daily and weekly developer progress. Yet machine translation has gotten far more accurate and trainable in the last few years. Changing to an always-on translation process, with QA edits is likely in our future.

Updating translations with LocalyzerQA is so simple, sometimes localization managers and testers have trouble grasping that there are no screenshots or complicated steps involved in updating. There’s no catch like bolt-on proxies or changes to a codebase needed. 

Lingoport is in a unique position to deliver this because our products already keep track of strings in software repositories. It’s a stride forward in delivering better-globalized products faster and more in tune with software development.

The future of localization technology / emerging trends

The future is translation that is always on. 

Continuous localization means that you can have new features in your software – ready for the global market, without slowing the speed of development and your sprint release. 

Contact Lingoport to learn more or set up a demo today.

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