Go Global at the Speed of Innovation with Continuous Localization

This is the third in our series on localization. We interviewed Antonio J Espinosa, Chief Operating Officer of Transifex, a worldwide localization platform for software projects. Our first post offers an introduction to localization. Our second post covers the building a global company to support localization.  

Say the word “localization” in a room of developers and there may be some groans. In the past, localization meant a step back as either an automated service or a local translator made changes to the software, and then the developer would go back and make updates to their established code. In the case of string freeze, coding would stop all together on software so the translation service could get up to speed. In other cases, translation was often added afterward, but this too was cumbersome—updates and changes would not be reflected in the translated version and often whole portions of the software were left untranslated.

Thanks to advances in technology, this process is now more efficient with continuous localization. “Today’s software industry has grown to all corners of the globe. Software will have a better chance at finding global success if the product resonates with people of the particular region. The language and the usability must be natural to the users in the area,” said Transifex Chief Operating Officer, Antonio J Espinosa.

Deep Dive into Continuous Localization

Many development teams today follow agile software methodologies and have a Continuous Integration (CI) process for developing software. The speed at which they deliver new features to their users and customers is extremely important. 

Continuous localization integrates localization into the product development process, meaning translations happen concurrently with development.  

“Localization is a business direction that is often pushed onto developers by the marketing department. But developers want to code, not localize. Continuous localization takes away that pain point,” said Espinosa.

Before a piece of software is localized, the code must be internationalized. Ideally, this would happen at the beginning of the development process, but it can occur at any time. Internationalization means designing software that can be adapted for other languages and locales without future code changes. For instance, the code should support varying date formats and area codes. These small changes and considerations will make localization easier, no matter how you choose to pursue it.

By integrating a platform such as Transifex with CI tools like Jenkins or Bamboo, the localization process can begin as soon as new content or strings are introduced in an application and uploaded to Transifex. Transifex will notify translators, who will begin working on the translation. This allows both the development team and the localization team to update consistently and in real time.

Translation services can be provided by any combination of automated services and professional or volunteer translators to ensure both accuracy and speed. “A sustainable continuous localization system is one that is both cost efficient and fast. It should be painless for both the developers and the business managers,” said Espinosa.

Transifex offers a translation memory feature for localization for even more time saving. Translation memory leverages previously translated work and creates a database of finished translations so only new pieces of code are translated for each build. A glossary of previously translated terms will also provide consistency and time savings.

When all of the content has been translated, a continuous localization platform will let you know (using a web hook) that you are ready to download the translations and deploy.

Expanding Your Localization

When creating your localization plan and road map, don’t forget to go beyond the software. Localize your website and help pages—these are part of the user experience. Most companies will choose to use the same translators for both the software and the website for consistency.

“Most businesses know where the interest in their software is coming from. If you’ve got continuous localization in place, your team can pivot and serve that technology up for the regions that are showing an interest quickly. A cost efficient localization system can lead to increased ROI,” said Espinosa.

Transifex is a leading worldwide localization platform for software projects. To learn more about Transifex, visit its website.

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