For a developer, software localization can be challenging. This is especially true if you haven’t done this sort of thing before, but a client’s requirements demand it.
Granted, localizing software is complex and never easy. This is why it’s much better to begin the process by understanding what localization is. By doing so, you’ll have the assurance that the software you program will successfully run.
Let’s find out more about software localization including the steps involved. However, let’s first define a few technical terms:
- Localization: this is to translate the language in a software interface to a different language.
- String: a sequence of characters in a software coding
- Local: the people or the country you’re localizing the software for
Understanding Software Localization
If you’re trying to build and sell CRM software, for instance, to a client in a different part of the world, chances are they have to adhere to their own countries’ laws and regulations. Furthermore, culture and everyday requirements of the user are also a significant factor to consider.
Because of this, you’ll need to adapt the coding to change aspects of the software, such as the interface of the documentation or images, to meet the requirements of the user. Ultimately, this allows the user to connect with your software in a way that feels natural and native to them.
There are many benefits of software localization to the business. First off, it increases the market share, translating to even more sales. Moreover, it helps gain a competitive advantage over other industry players and strengthens the business’s global presence. Lastly, it’s a great way to build a business brand.
Best Tips for Software Localization
When localizing software, the requirements and changes needed will depend on the challenges of your user in their specific countries. There are no hard rules and governing factors for software localization. However, to ensure a successful software acceptance in a targeted location, there are a few localization best practices that you may want to follow:
Use A Localization platform
An important part of the localization process is to make use of a robust localization platform. By doing so, you’ll get access to integrations as well as a higher level of customization options.
Check the Language
While developing the software, it’s best to use a language that appeals to a select group. Take note that one language may sound difficult for other groups. Therefore, it’s important to use simple language in the user interface. This ensures that multiple cultures can easily understand the software.
Localization Should Seem Like An Extension of Software Development
It’s easy to view software localization as an extra task after the development of new software. However, a better way to look at it is to consider it as a necessary part of the modern software development process. This will help you plan your work to ensure that you get everything complete in the right time.
Keeping Strings Simple
Just as with the language, you’ll also need to focus on the strings. While you’ll need to externalize user-visible strings, also make sure that you don’t include hardcoded strings, and avoiding concatenated strings. Furthermore, ensure that you provide explanatory comments.
Understanding the Localization Process
There are two main processes involved when localizing software. The first is the internationalization process, which is then followed by the actual localization process.
Localization, as we saw, involves adapting the software to a locale taking into account their regions’ regulations and culture. Furthermore, internationalization involves creating the software to perform certain tasks regardless of where it’s used in the world.
There are several things that you’ll need to do in this process, including the following:
01. Reviewing Software Framework
Reviewing the application framework will determine the ease of localization. It also ensures that the software can support the internationalization.
02. Make Plans for Multiple Languages
While you may code software in a neat and well-organized fashion, the inclusion of other languages may make it seem complicated. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that the design takes into account the other languages and that the interface allows for expansion and contraction, depending on the language.
03. Keep the Locale’s Specific Data in Mind
You must externalize the strings that have been prepared for localization. This also means that they need to be stored in a translation file. It’s common to have several versions of the resource file for each target language.
04. Resources Files
These are files that contain data that are specific to a language. Based on the location of the user, the right values of the strings and data will be taken and inserted in the user interface.
Resource bundles, when it comes to coding, could mean a whole host of things. As far as localization is concerned, it refers to several resource files that have the same base name.
Not only that, but the resource bundle will also have a language-specific component that’s contained in the name. This makes it possible to identify certain specific locals.
05. Check the Strings
While coding, you’ll need to extract the strings, localize them, then insert the strings back into the code. Also, you’ll need to steer clear of hard-coded strings. This will help make the process much easier.
It’s also a good idea to avoid the concatenation of strings. While developers may concatenate two or more strings to save space, this could often lead to errors in translation.
Lastly, ensure to provide commentary that’s self-explanatory on the strings. This will help ensure better translation of the strings.
This is the second phase and the actual localization of the software. In the early days, developers often used spreadsheets to save strings. They would then send off the spreadsheet to translators.
This is still an option today but is highly inefficient. Instead, we’ll focus more on using a localization platform. This is far more efficient and will save time. It’ll also ensure quality translation.
By choosing a good localization platform, which comes with a good editor as well as supporting several source formats, you can now do the next step.
01. Extracting the Resource Files
The process of localization starts with the extraction of resource files that you’ll then translate. A good platform allows you to upload resource files and supports several file formats.
Keep in mind that when uploading your resource files, they need to be in a format that’s supported by the program. Having done this, the platform automatically extracts the resource strings and allows you to translate them.
Before you can begin translating the strings, it’s important to find the best translator for the job. This is often a native speaker who has had experience with translating the local language.
One option is to get a translator to form an outside agency or you could just use the integrated translation provider in the localization platform. Either way, the translators will be able to view the source strings and should be capable of translating them.
03. The Review
After translation, it’s crucial to conduct reviews for quality language use as well as any other queries or doubts that you may have. In case there are any required modifications, this can easily be done.
04. Copying the Translated Files and Strings into The Code
Once the strings have been translated and reviewed, it’s now time to copy the files into the code structure. High-quality programs allow you to import these files into the application.
By pushing the content, you can highly benefit from a localization platform since it can make the localization process one part of the software release. Furthermore, when you end up modifying or adding strings in the source files or you now have new content that requires localization, you can easily send them to translation and then add the translations back into the code.
05. Testing the Software
The last step is to test the software for languages. Here, you’re going to check for language acceptability as well as functional acceptability. Also search for layout issues, formatting issues, as well as local-specific issues.
How Do You Know the Localization is Complete?
After checking the software and ensuring that it’s bug-free and accepted in the location it was meant for, it’s time to announce a string freeze. This provides translators with enough time to translate all the strings in the software. It prevents anyone from changing the code unless you’re looking to improve the product.
The string freeze also makes it possible for translators to have time to not only translate but also to make a review. Furthermore, before you can make the final release, obtain the translation for the target languages, add them to the software, then release it.
Developing software for the international market is fraught with challenges and pitfalls. This is why internationalization is at the core of every software development.
With the steps above, you can implement a successful software localization, ensuring the software is not just accepted in the target location but also meets the functional requirements.