The process known as localization is used to adapt a software product for various language and country-specific versions; however, software localization is a process that involves many special aspects. For instance, the translated texts shown in a software version must fit into the space available on the user interface; besides the language details, also the units of measure, date and time formats, sortings and many other features must be adapted to the target market. A flawlessly localized software product doesn’t look like a translation, but instead appears to have been developed directly in the target language.
There are a range of specialized tools available for software localization, for example SDL Passolo or Alchemy Chemist. These tools extract the text from the source file and open it for processing and the creation of a destination version. To enable the localized software to be updated at a future time, the tools are capable of recognizing texts that have already been translated, meaning that only the newly added sections will need to be translated into the target language. This also ensures that the entire software is consistently localized.
In a successful localization project, the developers should already take the special aspects of other languages into consideration in the creation of the software product. Not only is it the case that texts translated from English are generally longer in the target language, it should also been borne in mind that every language has its own specific set of grammatical rules. For example: in most cases it is easy to form the plural of an English word simply by adding an “s“ – not so for German words, taking the word “Computer“ as just one example. If the software isn’t designed with the necessary flexibility, this can lead to problems in the localization phase. As a measure to ensure that such problems – ones that software developers in many cases aren’t aware of – can be effectively avoided from the outset, close cooperation with the translation team should start early on in the development phase.
Finally, it’s advisable to have the translation team put the finished localized software through its paces. This goes to ensure that all the texts fit into the user interface and have been interpreted correctly.
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