Software Translation Services = Software Localization?

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In our previous blog Do’s and Don’ts in Software Development before Internationalization (i18n) a reader commented: “Thanks for sharing brilliant article with us and I would like to say about that I have been searching for “translation” on Google will yield approximately 140 million results, making the translation industry very competitive indeed. Almost anyone can put a webpage together, and with roughly 85% of the world population speaking at least two languages, you’ve got something to contend with. Once you’ve established a reputation for yourself and picked up a few steady customers you can start increasing your prices, but when beginning your translation career it can be difficult to choose a rate to charge.”

With many companies in the translation industry promoting localization, it has become habitual to confuse translation with localization. New entrants in the translation service market are also touting new buzzwords like crowdsourcing and cloud solutions. Offering inexpensive or even free offerings, they claim achieving significant automation, simplification and reduction in cost of software translation services and website translation.

Nothing is wrong with buzz as long as behind it you find substance. So when you hear buzzwords, dig deeper and evaluate the offered solution to ensure that it gives you what you and your international users need. Software translation services, crowdsourcing and cloud language solutions are not necessarily the same as software localization, or website globalization for that matter.

Translation continues to be at the heart of software localization services. However, when we localize software applications for our clients, only half of what we do involves software translation services. The other half includes project management, file and asset prep, desktop publishing, dialog box and table resizing, image capturing, compilation and building, and quality assurance services. One needs a comprehensive solution to fulfill the end requirement.

It is the end result that matters the most to the client, not necessarily how you get there. Capable localization service providers localize software applications and websites, to meet the needs of foreign users in specific countries. Yes translation services are part of it, but translation by itself is not enough to empower clients and their end users to correctly use the software and websites in their native languages and be fully satisfied.

While evaluating vendors, offerings and costs, keep in mind that much of the process of localization continues to be the same and will continue to involve all the steps that we highlight above. The only differences are who does all the needed tasks, how they are handled and where assets reside.

Regardless of what it is called, if all you are offered is basic software translation services, then watch out. It is a far cry from effective software localization!

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About the Author

Nabil Freij Intel Software Partner ProgramNabil Freij is the author of Enabling Globalization and the president, founder, and owner of GlobalVision International, Inc. (, a Software Localization and Translation specialist. He is trilingual and holds an MSEE from Brown University and an MBA from Bryant University. Freij has worked for 25 years in the hardware, software, and localization industries. He has traveled the world and lived in five countries. He is frequently published and quoted. Nabil is married and has two children. He currently resides in Palmetto, FL. Mr. Freij can be reached at . You can read his blog at:

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Hank C.'s picture

It’s really an informative blog. Software translation with Localization is employed by industries to beat linguistic barriers for his or her product and services to succeed in the worldwide target market.

anonymous's picture

Nice posting!!!!!
Software Localization Services thus not only involve translation of the content into the target language but also involve usage of appropriate terms and slangs that are understood easily by people in a specific locale.

anonymous's picture

Localization should not be mismatched with translation both are two separate ends and a little confusion can lead towards poor confidentiality

anonymous's picture

Nice information, good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need; thanks for this.

anonymous's picture

Good point Sean. In my previous post: Do’s and Don’ts in Software Development before Internationalization (i18n), I stated the following: "Do choose your third-party software provider carefully. Insist they support Unicode and comply with the above internationalization (i18n) practices. Often problems are encountered with third-party software, and the fact that you don’t have control over their code to fix the problems makes the localization tasks particularly difficult."

The same post also recommends the following: "Do use long dates or month abbreviations instead of numbers when identifying dates. Month vs. day orders in different parts of the world vary (e.g., mm/dd/yy in the US; dd/mm/yy in Europe)."

But to your point, yes, unless you have very detailed test scripts, problems are bound to surface after the localized product is released. This is why it is important that you have a strong localization QA process and not just rely on hiring translators.

If you provide me more details about the issue you encoutered to, I can have our technical staff get back to you with best practice methods.

Lauren Dankiewicz (Intel)'s picture

I apologize about the delay in your posts appearing on the site. Sometimes, comments are submitted but they don't appear immediately online.

anonymous's picture

I've tried twice to submit a comment on this page and each time it hasn't submitted. Please fix your comments. Also, I clicked teh Software Support link, but I can't find anything obvious to go to for support for these forums.

anonymous's picture

I think there is one point that has been left out that's really important. You also need to make sure that any 3rd party API's you rely on are also localized and optimized for the places you sell your app. We relied on a 3rd party service for mapping and we found that they had incorrect data and an incorrect handling of address formatting for users in Austria. We didn't realize this issue until our users reported it.

Given the large reach of selling through a phone app store and the extreme complexity of verifying your software in all of those locations, I don't really see how we could have caught this issue through testing before we shipped. It's a tough problem.

anonymous's picture

This is interesting. I think there is one point that you left out, you must also make sure that any API's or dependencies you have are able to support the languages you've localized to. For example, we relied on a 3rd party API for mapping. That mapping API seemed to work in most countries, but it had errors with the data source in Austria. Given the huge test burden and the fact that we didn't even know the results we were getting were wrong until users pointed it out, I don't know how a small to medium sized company would even discover these sorts of bugs before shipping...

anonymous's picture

Localization is the process of adapting internationalized software for a specific region or language by adding locale-specific components and translating text.In localization, translation is just the beginning.Translation is the process of converting written text or spoken words into another language.

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