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: