What You Need to Know About Software Localization


2020-12-08 08:50 RWS Moravia Insights


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Software companies with an international presence need to ensure that their products provide a great experience for users in various multilingual markets. This means the software has to be adapted to suit the different cultural, linguistic and social requirements of the company’s target audiences and regions. Simply put, if your goal is to substantially increase your user base, you can’t afford to alienate a massive segment of your digital audience just because of language differences and unique expectations in terms of user experience. Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that software localization comes with its own set of challenges. The good news is that there is a way to design the localization process so that it shortens your time to market, optimizes your expenses and ensures a better environment for cross-team collaboration. And there are tools that can help you get there. Let’s start from the beginning. Understanding software localization Software localization is the process of translating software into different languages while bearing in mind cultural specificities and making necessary technical and legal adjustments to delight users around the world. So, it’s more than just translating text. It’s also about considering the cultural and country-specific aspects of the languages, i.e. ensuring the right spelling and phrasing, the proper date and time format, currency conversions and culturally appropriate graphics are used and much more. As you can see, software localization is a fairly long and complex process that requires more effort than simply translating ‘Welcome’ into 150 languages. It’s worth mentioning that, although software localization is complementary to internationalization (i18n), there are still notable differences between the two. In any case, internationalization should precede software localization. You’ve probably heard of Revolut, a UK-based fintech company. Revolut managed to build a strong global user base of over 8 million users and added 30+ languages to its app in just five years. They started off as a small startup, but quickly grew their global presence by localizing their product for different countries and audiences. This helped them gain a competitive edge, access multiple age groups and increase their market share. Mapping out the localization challenges faced by developers As a developer participating in the software localization process, you are likely to face several different challenges. Some of the common localization issues developers face include: Synchronizing between translation management systems and the code repository Properly downloading translation files (in the right format and structure) and monitoring changes Successfully spotting duplicate translations Effectively working with plural keys and placeholders Enabling translation teams to work on different features in parallel Providing context for translators Previewing translations in the design stage Luckily, it’s possible to overcome these challenges with the right tools and processes. Let’s take a quick look at the most common workflows in software localization. Types of software localization workflow While it sounds simple, addressing localization issues can be a highly challenging task and it requires the expertise of localization professionals. Ideally, the development team should own the internationalization process at the very beginning and be available to make this process a lot smoother. From waterfall localization to continuous localization, we’ve come far in terms of software localization workflows. Traditional localization workflows usually follow the Waterfall model where phases are sequential, so each phase or step begins when the previous one has ended. In this scenario, localization only starts when the product is coded and ready for release. The translated strings from translators and localization experts are channelled back to developers. Only then do they manually upload translations and merge them into the software. In Agile localization, development teams and localization teams are working simultaneously. Localization and translation of the strings are carried out within each sprint. As everything happens in small batches, any issues that may arise can be fixed there and then. Let’s see how this works in practice with the help of the right tool. The developer pushes new code to the project database. The localization software automatically recognizes new or altered strings and notifies the translation team. Translators work on the texts, the QA teams review them and the translations get pushed back to developers. Everything is synced so that the translations are ready for the release in a timely manner. This is what you’d call a sprint. With continuous localization, the development and localization processes are simultaneous. While in Agile localization, tasks are completed in sprints, in continuous localization, there is one continuous sprint. Localization service providers work with the content as soon as it’s delivered by the software development teams. Each team is aware of what the other is working on at all times. Here’s a simple way to understand the subtle difference between Agile localization and continuous localization: with continuous localization, content is always ready for release; with Agile localization, you need to wait until the sprint is completed. With continuous localization, you can expect faster translation turnaround times. Localization doesn’t impact the development process. In fact, it contributes to quicker releases that can even take place several times a day. The product is delivered to end users faster and without any delays. Due to these benefits, software localization is gradually moving towards continuous localization as the preferred workflow. Introduce the right localization tool into your software development workflow Many companies still rely on spreadsheets for software localization even though switching to a TMS can result in a 75% boost in productivity. Uniting cross-functional team members with the right tools is a great way to optimize the software localization process. While spreadsheets are a helpful way to keep track of numbers and analyze data, they don’t work so well for managing translations. Once you integrate the localization team into the development team, you are on your way to reaping the benefits of continuous localization. If you’re exploring different options for your localization software, here are a few tips that can help you make an informed decision: Search for solutions that allow you to automate as much as you can. Features that allow you to automate your workflow can minimize idle waiting time and ensure faster time to market. Think about what your developers need. Look for a solution that offers code repository integrations, has features that support complex delivery chains such as webhooks and APIs and enables proper use of key referencing, placeholders and more. Ensure the solution offers a good collaborative environment. Think about the different roles that participate in the localization process and how the potential localization software solution addresses each person’s needs. Consider quality of storage. Secure, cloud-based localization software is the preferred option for software developers. Ask as many questions as you’d like. Your potential vendor should have dedicated product specialists ready to help you with best workflow practices. Your localization software should centralize your translation efforts and help you reduce counterproductive back and forth communications. Every single stakeholder—UX designers, software developers, translators, LSPs and all the others—needs to be able to seamlessly collaborate. That’s how you’ll prevent unnecessary delays and ensure error-free translations with fast turnaround times. Key tips for software localization Are you familiar with the saying “a tool is only as good as its user”? It may be useful to highlight that even though the localization tool is your ally, you still have to do some heavy lifting. After the developers finish the process of internationalization, it’s time to carry on with the next steps, i.e. the actual localization. Here are some of the key tips to bear in mind: Think about adjusting your localization process so that it starts at the design stage. With the right integrations, this proactive approach can significantly shorten your time to market. Ensure your visuals and emojis are adjusted to different cultures. The images you include must not be culturally offensive. Strive for precision. The more committed you are to adapt to a specific locale, the better your software will resonate with your target audiences. Use a style guide. Achieving brand consistency across multilingual markets is not easy, but it’s much simpler when you document tone of voice, audience information, brand guidelines, etc. Final thoughts Introducing a new localization tool to your established software development workflow can be a challenging task. Depending on the localization maturity level of your organization, it might require a fair amount of change management. It is helpful to have the entire team on board, but to get there, you’ll need to explain how the change benefits everyone. Remember: your chosen localization software should support your processes or help you introduce new ones. It should help you reduce unnecessary communication and the overall localization-related workload for your developers, shorten the development release cycle and enable faster translation delivery timeframes. Overall, it’s a solid way to ensure you don’t get lost in translation. Many thanks to Alexander Pereverzevs, Product Lead at Lokalise, for this post. Alexander is a tech enthusiast and Lokalise’s product guru, helping many customers make improvements to their localization workflows. In his free time, he enjoys travelling and playing football and basketball.
拥有国际影响的软件公司需要确保他们的产品在各种多语言市场上为用户提供很棒的体验。这意味着软件必须适应公司目标受众和地区的不同文化,语言和社会要求。 简单地说,如果你的目标是大幅增加你的用户基础,你不能仅仅因为语言差异和用户体验方面的特殊需求而疏远你的大量受众群体。 当然,我们不能忽视这样一个事实,即软件本地化要面临一系列挑战。好消息是,有一种方法可以设计本地化流程,使其缩短您的上市时间,节省您的费用,并确保为跨团队协作创造一个更好的环境。而且有一些工具可以帮助你达成目标。 让我们从头开始。 了解软件本地化 软件本地化是将软件语言翻译成不同的用户语言的过程,同时确保文化的特殊性,并进行必要的技术和法律调整,以取悦世界各地的用户。 所以,它不仅仅是简单地翻译文本。它还涉及到考虑语言的文化和国家特定方面,即确保正确的拼写和措辞,适当的日期和时间格式,货币转换和符合文化的图片使用等等。 正如您所看到的,软件本地化是一个相当长且复杂的过程,比简单地将'welcome'翻译成150种语言所付出的努力多得多。 值得一提的是,尽管软件本地化是对国际化(i18n)的补充,但两者之间仍然存在显著的差异。无论如何,国际化应该先于软件本地化。 你可能听说过英国金融科技公司Revolut。在短短五年时间里,Revolut成功建立了超过800万的强大全球用户群,并为其应用程序添加了30多种语言。而起初,他们只是一个小公司,但通过针对不同国家和受众的本地化产品,迅速发展了他们的全球影响力。这帮助他们获得了竞争优势,接触到多个年龄组,并扩大了他们的市场份额。 规划开发人员面临的本地化挑战 作为一个参与软件本地化过程的开发人员,您很可能会面临几个不同的挑战。开发人员面临的一些常见本地化问题包括: 翻译管理系统和代码库之间的同步问题 正确下载翻译文件(格式和结构正确)对改动进行监管 发现,替换环节 有效地使用多个键和占位符 使翻译团队能够并行处理不同的特性问题 为翻译人员提供上下文 在设计阶段预览翻译 幸运的是,使用正确的工具和流程可以克服这些难题。让我们快速了解一下软件本地化中最常见的工作流程。 软件本地化工作流类型 虽然这听起来很简单,但解决本地化问题可能是一项极具挑战性的任务,它需要本地化专业人员的专业知识。理想情况下,开发团队应该在一开始就进行国际化过程,顺利过渡到本地化也。从瀑布式本地化到连续本地化,我们在软件本地化工作流方面已经取得了很大进展。 传统的本地化工作流通常遵循瀑布式模型,其中阶段是连续的,因此每个阶段或步骤在前一个阶段结束时开始。在此场景中,本地化仅在产品编码并准备发布时才开始。翻译人员和本地化专家翻译出来的字符串返回给开发人员。只有这样,他们才会手动上传翻译并将它们合并到软件中。 在敏捷本地化中,开发团队和本地化团队是同步工作的。在“疾跑”中执行字符串的本地化和翻译。由于每件事都是小批量发生的,任何可能出现的问题都可以在那时得到解决。让我们看看在正确工具的帮助下,这在实践中是如何工作的。 开发人员将新代码推送到项目数据库。本地化软件自动识别新的或更改的字符串,并通知翻译团队。翻译人员对文本进行工作,QA团队对其进行审核,然后将翻译结果推还给开发人员。所有的内容都被同步,这样翻译就可以及时发布了。这就是你所说的“疾跑”。 随着本地化程度不断提高,开发和本地化过程是同步的。而在本地化中,任务是在“加速跑”中完成的,在连续本地化中,有一个连续的“疾跑”。当软件开发团队交付内容时,本地化服务提供商就立即对其进行处理。每个团队在任何时候都知道另一个团队在做什么。 这里有一个简单的方法来理解灵活本地化和持续本地化之间的细微区别:使用持续本地化,内容总是准备好发布;使用灵活本地化,您需要等到“疾跑”完成。 通过持续的本地化,您可以期待更快的翻译周转时间。本地化不会影响开发过程。事实上,它有助于更快的发布,甚至可以一天发生几次。产品交付给最终用户的速度更快,没有任何延迟。 由于这些好处,软件本地化逐渐走向持续本地化作为首选。 将正确的本地化工具引入您的软件开发工作流程中 即便是转换到TMS可以使生产率提高75%,许多公司仍然依赖电子表格进行软件本地化。 用正确的工具联合不同功能的团队成员是优化软件本地化过程的一个很棒的方法。虽然电子表格是跟踪数字和分析数据的一种有用方式,但它们在管理翻译方面并不是很好。 一旦您将本地化团队集成到开发团队中,您就在收获持续本地化带来的好处了。 如果您正在探索本地化软件的不同选项,以下是一些提示,可以帮助您做出更明智的决定: 寻找尽可能多地实现自动化的解决方案。允许您自动化工作流的功能可以最大限度地减少空闲等待时间,并确保更快的上市时间。 想想你的开发人员需要什么。寻找提供集成代码存储库,复杂交付链(如Webhook和API)的功能,正确使用键引用,占位符等的解决方案。 确保解决方案能够提供一个良好的协作环境。需要考量参与本地化过程的不同角色,以及潜在的本地化软件解决方案如何解决每个人的需求。 考虑存储质量与安全,基于云的本地化软件是软件开发人员的首选选择。 尽可能提出更多的问题。您的潜在供应商应该有专门的产品专家随时准备为您提供最佳工作流实践说明。 您的本地化软件应该集中您的翻译工作,并帮助您减少重复沟通。每个利益相关者-UX设计师,软件开发人员,翻译人员,LSP和所有其他人员-都需要能够无缝协作。这就是您如何防止不必要的延迟,并确保在快速周转时间内实现无错误翻译的方法。 软件本地化的关键提示 你是否熟悉“工具的好坏取决于它的使用者”这句话?强调一下,即使本地化工具是您的好朋友,您仍然要做一些繁重的工作,这是一条实用的建议。在开发人员完成国际化的过程之后,是时候继续下一步了,也就是实际的本地化。 以下是一些需要牢记的关键提示: 考虑调整您的本地化过程,使其从设计阶段就开始。通过正确的集成,这种积极主动的方法可以显著缩短您的上市时间。 确保你的视觉和表情都能适应不同的文化。您所包含的图片不得具有文化上的冒犯性。 力求精准。您越致力于适应特定的区域环境,您的软件就越能与您的目标受众产生共鸣。 使用样式指南。在多语言市场上实现品牌一致性并不容易,但是当你记录声音的音调,受众信息,品牌指导方针等时,要简单得多。 最后的建议 将一个新的本地化工具引入到您已建立的软件开发工作流程中可能是一项具有挑战性的任务。根据组织的本地化成熟度级别,可能需要大量的变更管理。让整个团队都参与进来是很有帮助的,但是要做到这一点,你需要解释这个变化是让每个人都受益的。 记住:您选择的本地化软件应该支持您的流程或帮助您引入新的流程。它将帮助您减少不必要的沟通和开发人员与本地化相关的总体工作量,缩短开发发布周期,并使翻译交付时间更快。总的来说,这是一个确保你不会在翻译中迷失方向的可靠方法。 非常感谢Lokalise的产品主管Alexander Pereverzevs为这篇文章撰写的文章。Alexander是一位技术爱好者,也是Lokalise的产品大师,他帮助许多客户改进他们的本地化工作流程。在他的空闲时间,他喜欢旅行,踢足球和篮球。