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Going Global: expand your global view

Going Global and your Global View

Expand your global view and learning a model for going in-country.

The Localization Institute has a new training program called New Live Online Training Series.

The program starts on the 29th of April to the 20th of May 2010 – 4-part series.

The Localization Institute, a leader in localization and globalization seminars and training, offers a new 4-part series of online webinars entitled ‘Going Global: Expanding Your Global View and Learning a Model for Going In-Country’, presented by Andrew M. G. Fleck, Ph.D.

What is a global view? Get the answer to this question and find out how to personally assess, expand, and realize your global view by identifying critical success factors as well as developing and improving upon your existing intercultural skills.

Learn how to develop your own personal strategies for working across cultures and helping your company meet the challenges of the global marketplace.

The target audiences for this series are business professionals who want to prepare for doing business in other countries or experienced global professionals who want to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of their intercultural competencies.

The Localization Institute is dedicated to bringing the same quality of information and instruction to our new online training as we do with our onsite seminars and round tables.

We will continually offer new online seminars as well as repeat sessions throughout the year. You can always find a current schedule of all training offered at its website.

Register today to reserve your spot in the future of global business. Contact Sarah Fonseca at (608) 826-5001 or email sarah (at) localizationinstitute dot com with any questions or concerns or assistance on registration.

The STAR Team

Google Translate English to Animal

English to Animal Translation from Google

Only Google could do it!

A new product launched yesterday for Android devices introduces translation from English to animal languages. You will be able to communicate more effectively with your pets. Now you can really tell your dog that you love them.

Take a look at the video if you don’t believe us.

Visit Google’s Translate for Animals web page for more details.

The STAR Team

iPhone App Localization, IMUG 18th March

iPhone App Localization, Adobe Conference

Next week’s IMUG event on 18th March, 19:00 to 21:00

What: iPhone App Localization and the China Smartphone Market
Where: Adobe HQ, 345 Park Ave., San Jose, CA Park Conference Room, East Tower
How: Get directions to IMUG at Adobe

Bo Lin is COO and co-founder of iPhone Localizer. Her company, based in California and China, localizes iPhone apps for all 31 iPhone-supported languages; develops cross-platform, multilingual mobile apps and distributes multilingual iPhone apps to all 77 countries’ App Stores.

The company also offers in-country app support worldwide and marketing services for apps in Asian countries.

For a full description of this event, please see IMUG Events

Adobe will host up to half of our meetings this year, beginning with this event. Many thanks to Ken Lunde of Adobe for making this happen! And a big thank you and welcome also to Mihai Nita, who will be our co-host with Ken.

Admission is free for IMUG members, $4 for non-members. IMUG membership is only $20/year, $15/renewal or $100 for lifetime membership. Join, renew or pay a single non-member event fee. Cash and checks also accepted at their events.

Please RSVP via Meetup. Adobe has requested RSVPs, so that badges can be prepared in advance. You won’t be turned away if you don’t, but there will be a delay while your badge is being prepared. If you RSVP at least 24 hours in advance, it will be waiting for you at the desk.

The STAR Team

Why translate both Chinese for China and Chinese for Taiwan?

Different Chinese Translation for China and Taiwan

Due to the large area covered by Greater China (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore), there is a high diversity of spoken dialects of the Chinese language. In fact, the term dialect is somewhat misleading, since they are in most cases mutually unintelligible and can thus actually be classified as different languages.

Since Beijing has for most of the time been the capital of China and city of the emperor, the dialect of Beijing has emerged as Standard Chinese, which is now the official language of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore, and a strong connecting force between all those countries.

Unlike the spoken Chinese languages, written Chinese is much less diversified. Most notable is the difference between the Simplified and Traditional Chinese characters. While the People’s Republic of China started in the 1950s, to simplify a larger part of the characters with the goal of speeding up the learning and writing process, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao kept the Traditional characters.

Converting a text from Traditional Chinese to Simplified Chinese and vice versa can be done, more or less, with a few mouse clicks. The real issue is not the characters, but where the translation is going to be used. Even within Standard Chinese there are local variations in terminology and grammar between China and Taiwan. These differences are similar to those between American and British English, but much larger in extent.

Generally, consumers (and thus the industry) are very sensitive to such local language variations. Especially in Taiwan, considering the history it shares with China, it is impossible to use translations done anywhere else.

This is the reason why STAR has an office in Taiwan. Besides doing translations into Traditional Chinese for Taiwan we also adapt documents into Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong.

Spoken or Written?

Which Chinese dialect do you need? Check out our simple table to help you decide …

The STAR Team

Keynote Speakers at Worldware Conference


When: 16th – 18th of March 2010
Where: Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California

The theme of the Worldware Conference is “The ROI of Software Internationalization.” This conference explores methodologies to get international product releases out on time and on budget.

An Entrepreneur in a Shrinking World will be the keynote presentation on the 17th of March. The presenter will be Cliff Miller, chief strategy officer for DeviceVM.

Global Expansion in a Networked World will be the keynote presentation on the 18th of March. The presenter will be Konstantin Guericke. Konstantin was most recently the CEO of jaxtr, a social communications start-up with over 10 million registered users, and co-founder of LinkedIn.

Visit Worldware Conference for more information.

The STAR Team

Translation and Localization Thailand

Localization Thailand, 3rd to 4th of December 2009

The Asian localization services business is rapidly evolving in Thailand’s translation industry.

To support the development of the localization industry in Thailand, the Localization Industry Standards Association is collaborating with the Royal Institute of Thailand, AsiaOnline, and ProZ to bring together the leaders in globalization process and strategy for a groundbreaking two-day conference on the role of the localization industry in Thailand and the Asia-Pacific region.

“Localization and Translation Services Thailand: Bridging Asia with the World” — 3rd to 4th of December 2009)

The STAR Team

Call for papers – Worldware conference



Preconference workshops: March 16
Full conference with presentations and exhibits: March 17-18

Hyatt Regency Santa Clara
Santa Clara, California

How do you get product releases out to the world on time and on budget? Worldware explores the tools, concepts and materials to effectively plan, evangelize and deliver internationalization efforts within your company.

Topics will concentrate on internationalization, the natural and necessary prerequisite to cost-effective localization. The conference provides extensive information about the “why” and “what” that underlie the strategy and business case reasoning in the goal of delivering products to the international marketplace.

This conference is directed to:

technically inclined strategic decision-makers
-development directors in large enterprises
-software architects
-product and marketing managers
-globalization managers
-and others who are responsible for setting the strategic direction of product development.

The theme is not meant to restrict the content of the conference. We encourage presenters to submit proposals that are complementary to the general conference scope. Some suggested topics are:

-internationalization as a business case
-the ROI of internationalization
-internationalization product management
-planning internationalization projects
-building internationalization teams
-case studies

The Worldware Conference invites individuals, practitioners, and corporate and institutional users to submit papers, perspectives and topics for discussion at the Worldware Conference in 2010 in Santa Clara, California. By using the same overall theme as our Worldware Conference in March 2009, we aim to create ongoing discussions on the topic and to introduce those discussions to attendees.

Suggestions of ideas, topics and speakers for Worldware Conference 2010 should be submitted using this template by October 28, 2009. Submissions should be sent by e-mail to:

[email protected]

Keep the dates free so that you and your colleagues will not miss this source of information vital to your international success.

The Worldware Conference is a co-production of The Localization Institute and MultiLingual magazine.

Reduce your translation costs in ten ways

piggy bank

In this white paper, we have outlined translation cost control techniques for our customers’ consideration.

In an ever demanding global market place managing your operations project scalability and cost base are paramount to success. We typically save our customers 40% on translation costs over repeat projects. The margin of the price per word for pure text localisation is low, approximately of 5-10%. Seeking to negotiate lower prices from localisation vendors is not feasible without an unacceptable loss in quality. Instead, the trend is for vendors to seek additional revenue from hourly billed activities for example, DTP or file management and other services such as globalization assessments and centralized project management.

In addition to cost pressures, you may be under mandate to reduce headcount or operate within the constraints of a ‘headcount freeze’. STAR Technology Director Paul Quigley relates that “working with a number of software publishers, we have seen a typical internal to outsourced cost split of 60/40%.

The outsourced 40% is split by the localisation vendor a further 30/70%, with 30% representing the management and engineering cost and 70% representing the cost of translation. So, of each $1 spent on localisation only twenty-eight cents is spent on translating the words.”

Through our expertise, you can lower costs of localisation and control headcount while increasing project scope, quality and decreasing time to market. The underlying tenet of the STAR approach is the use of automation and tools technology, combined with common sense. STAR is expert in the creation of automated localisation processes and implementation of these techniques. The bottom line is more localisation for less money!

We assume that the source language is English, however these techniques can be adopted for any source-target language combinations.


Inform work colleagues to treat localisation as a business process, just like any other activity critical to the bottom line. Any strings in a file can be translated, but not through a scalable, automated and cost-effective localisation process.

Adopt basic acceptance criteria for localisation:

  1. Is the product internationalised?
  2. Can the source files or externalised strings be safely and easily localised by an off-the-shelf process?
  3. Can the existing localised strings and sizing coordinates be leveraged as the source files change between updates? That means no one-off, throwaway localisation projects anymore!
  4. If you are developing Asian projects are
    • All your software libraries both internal and 3rd party DBCS enabled?
    • Are all your translation vendors’ tools DBCS compatible?

We are experts in working with companies to define their process acceptance criteria and enforce automatic compliance standards that are easily maintained and cost-effective.


Typically, documentation projects represent the biggest localisation spend because of the sheer number of words. Whether it is online help or documentation, the per word cost of localisation could represent as much as 80% of your localisation budget, presenting a prohibitive barrier to market entry.

Start by asking two related questions.

  • Should there be documentation written in the source language?
  • Should it be localised?
    • The answers to these questions are not the same. It is an expensive mistake to believe that everything written in English must be localised, for example.
      Once you are satisfied that documentation should be written (because the product’s user interface cannot be made more intuitive, for example), adopt a selective localisation approach

Structure the information in your documentations into discrete content “buckets” based on a small number of audience user types. For example, three categories of user might be considered:

  1. Deployment
    • Deployment information may not need to be localised if it deals with installation, implementation, consulting solutions or developer related content dealing with APIs, code samples, development tools and techniques, etc. In many cases, this is best left in English
  2. Maintenance and Self-service
    • Maintenance information deals with infrequently performed tasks such as changing how a business operates (such as adding employees to a database, reconfiguring servers, archiving data, etc.) and has a smaller audience. This can be localised if the revenue stream justifies it
    • Self-service information is typically task-related; describing procedures on how to perform the key functions for which the software is intended. This kind of information has a wide audience and should be localised

Using XML to define your data facilitates a selective approach and the decision-making on whether the costs for localising each type are justifiable. Such data definition is not only logical but flexible too. It can be varied according to market requirements and conditions.

We can help you to define your data using a DTD; allowing audience attributes to be applied to elements and an XSL transformation to select localisable elements and port them to an easily localisable medium such as the XML Localisation Interchange File Format (XLIFF).


Alphabetically sorted files are painfully costly to produce once localised. This is because languages contain different characters and numbers of characters. Once localised, information needs to be resorted, extra characters added, redundant ones deleted and so on. Anyone who has tried to sort HTML alphabetically will testify to the cost and time involved.
Instead, eliminate alphabetically based sorting from the file system. Externalise alphabetically sorted content into a database and use the NLS collating sequence to automatically sort the file or use XML and an XSLT element with language attributes to dynamically perform the sorting. STAR offer automated techniques to get that sorting sorted!


Automated reuse of previously localised content is central to cost reduction. Adopt development and authoring solutions based on the automatic generation of unique and persistent identifiers (or tokens) on localisable data. For example:

To save the file, press CTL+S.
To run the printing process, press CTL+P.
Press OK.

These identifiers are applied and maintained ideally from a database or the authoring environment (Adobe Frame+SGML, for example).
Using STAR techniques will allow you to reuse content internally and eliminate the cost of outsourcing updates of unchanged content — unless you want to explain to your CEO why you are paying for the update of the same unchanged words over and over with every update.
Ah, but can STAR provide a solution for both updating unchanged localised content without incurring a cost for a post-update reviews to make sure that the context has not changed? Yes! STAR has both the knowledge and the know-how to show you how identifiers and string matching techniques can work together to detect unchanged strings and to leverage existing localisations securely without loss of context.


Grammar check the source content before localisation starts. This sounds obvious, but documentation that has not even been spell checked is often sent to localisation. Using a simple technique like running the grammar checker in Microsoft Word will not only catch spelling errors but also detect grammatical constructs that are difficult to localise (for example, the use of the passive voice).
Using such a simple automation technique allows you to eliminate problems that could otherwise only be detected using very expensive controlled authoring techniques. Eliminating the need for editorial changes after localisation begins is key to updating only when it is needed.


Remember that the outsourcing of graphics creation is expensive. Instead, remove all localisable callout text from graphics and include it in the text of your documentations to be added to a translation memory for reuse.
Replace the callout text with numbered (not lettered) callouts arranged clockwise on graphics and cross-reference the numbers to the text into the main document. This allows the same graphics to be automatically re-used in all localised versions.
We will help you address these and other painfully costly graphics localisation issues so that your picture can really paint a thousand words in any language.


If you have accessibility requirements (accessibility means that people with disabilities can successfully access your product’s information), handle it sensibly. An expensive rewrite of HTML documentation is not required. Instead, for HTML tables add summary attributes that say “this table is for formatting only” and for graphics the alternative text attribute can say, “this picture is described in the text that follows”. These simple phrases are easily localised once and then automatically inserted into the HTML syntax code without fear of loss of context or the need to write expensive descriptions for localisation. You can tender for government and US or European Union-based contracts and meet statutory accessibility requirements using these simple techniques.


Use open, extensible industry standards so that your data can be easily processed by any commercially available localisation tool or vendor. XLIFF is an excellent medium for commoditization of the localisation process. It also allows easy customization and eliminates the need to develop proprietary tools and special processes.


Database manager
Feighlí feasa
Gocamán na ngiotán
Manager means administration tool – not a person

We have a proven background in data definition and XLIFF. With our expertise, your localisation process can become an easily commoditised task for all parties in the equation.


Redesign your localisation process so that automation is central to leveraging, internal compliance and quality assurance tasks. Use the power of technology to automatically do as much work as possible internally using existing or reduced headcount. Once a file is outsourced to a localisation vendor for any task, you will incur costs — even for tasks that those vendors themselves have automated (such as updating files).
Retain non-language critical tasks such as project management, leveraging and quality checking inside your own organization and use STAR designed solutions to perform these tasks automatically, 24 x 7, safely with minimum manual intervention while you save money.


Sign off on the glossary of terms that will be used in your localisation before the actual localisation progresses. Most terminology change requests are based on a matter of taste.
Take control of terminology. Extract key terms from the source files, localise them first and then require the client to sign-off that these are acceptable. Doing a market test with the terms on sample customers helps too.
Most major companies invest heavily in terminology. Even if a localisation style is not one hundred percent perfect, if the terminology is sound then the documentation will be highly usable and the UI perfectly navigable.
Get a proper perspective on terminology. Most documentation is read once. There are spelling errors on the front page of all major newspapers but no one complains about not getting the message.
STAR can help you with automated string extraction techniques that can improve localisation quality, improving consistency and usability that will give you that competitive edge. Product such as Webterm are invaluable in this process.

Introducing STAR Group

STAR is the fourth largest translation service and technology companies worldwide and the second largest translation technology company. Headquartered in Switzerland, STAR Group is the largest privately held Translation Company in Europe. The company has over 20 years experience in technical information services and employs over 750 employees, working in 35 offices on 4 continents.

The STAR Team

Introduction to Asian Translation

translation japan china korea

Translation in Asia: Japan, China, Korea

The vast potential of Asia is characterized by the fact that it makes up a large proportion of the world’s trade. Japan’s economy is second only to that of the United States.

Delivering translated product to Asian countries for the first time can be a very exciting and challenging time for organizations. Getting it wrong can be a very costly exercise. This guide helps to introduce managers and developers to Asian translations and give an insight to making the process easier and more cost effective.

About China

Largest population in World. Population of 1.3 billion people. Due to the wide variations in dialect it is advisable to only work with local translators to ensure correctness. Chinese is described first because both the Japanese and Korean written languages borrow some of their appearance and structure from ancient Chinese.

Chinese is the most widely spoken language on earth. Spoken by almost 1 billion people the peoples republic of chine and 18 million in the republic of china (Taiwan). Also 5 million each in Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia. It is also spoken by millions more in Singapore Vietnam and the United States.

There are many dialects of Chinese, but Mandarin is considered to be the standard, particularly in business use.

Simplified or Traditional ?
When asked about your Chinese translation you may be asked whether you require Simplified or Traditional?

As the Chinese written form evolved both original and simplified versions emerged. Simplified is used in People Republic of China, Traditional Chinese is spoken in Taiwan.

The Chinese language has no true alphabet. Its is written using characters called ideographs, which represent objects and abstract concepts. The Chinese call their ideographs Hanzi.
The number of ideographs used in Chinese is huge. The largest dictionary contains some 40,000 Hanzi. For everyday use however such as reading a newspaper you need to know only between 2000 to 6000. Basic literacy is achieved with around 2000 Hanzi.
Hanzi text can be written either horizontally from left to right or vertically from right to left.
For most computer applications the horizontal format would be used, while formal documents and periodicals like newspapers use the vertical format.

You should not give clocks as gifts in China. The Chinese word for clock is very similar in
sound to the word for death. It can symbolize the end of a relationship or friendship.

About Japan

Japanese is spoken by over 127 million people in Japan. Written Japanese is extremely complex.
In 3rd century AD the Japanese adapted Chinese ideographs for their language and this became known as Kanji.
However both Japanese and Chinese are very different grammatically and syntactically. The meaning of some borrowed Hanzi can be different in Kanji.

The average Japanese dictionary contains some 20,000 kanji. The total number is use today is approx 7000. Again 2000 characters are required for basic Japanese literacy.

Kana are Japanese phonetic characters. An Kana character represents a syllable not a word or idea. Japanese can be written without Kana, however many Japanese words are written in Kana only.
There are 2 phonetic alphabets in Kana, hiragana and katakana. Each contains the same 52 characters, including nine consonants and five vowels. Hiragana are cursive in shape and mainly used to write words not provided by Kana. Katakana characters are angular and are used for items such as medical and scientific terms. It is also used for words that are not of Japanese origin.

The Japanese also use Latin letters to write phonetically. Romaji is frequently used for working with computers.

Japanese text is traditionally written vertically from right to left, with no spaces between words. Modern technical texts tend to be written horizontally. Publications such as newspapers can contain both horizontal and vertical text.

About Korea

Korean is spoken by about 68 million people in Korean (45 million in South Korea and 23 million in North Korea).
The Korean script is based on the Hangul subscript, devised in 1443.
Although unrelated to Chinese some Chinese characters called Hanja are often mixed with Hangul.
The Korean alphabet is called Hangeul. It has 40 letters called Jamo, each of which represents a single consonant or vowel. However the Jamo can change shape when different letters are combined. So the 40 Jamo characters can represent some 500 different forms.
Modern Korean is usually written horizontally from left to right, top to bottom. The traditional vertical top to bottom, right to left orientation is still used in newspapers.

Software Testing Tips
Most Asian written languages have been adapted to facilitate communication with “western” cultures. So for software developers any product that supports these languages such be able to handle left to right English like text.
Mock Translation One of the fastest and most cost efficient method of testing your product for Asian languages is to Mock Translate the product.
This process involves adding Asian characters to every string , dialog or visual component of your software.
So instead of using ‘File’ you might use ‘File ‘ This text would then appear in the file menu and an English speaker could check the product was functioning correctly under Asian windows.
It also gives the added benefit of testing the product for string length growth. So in a dialog box for instance you would see if the text areas need to be bigger. Its always better to design your base product with about 20% more space in all dialogs to make translation easier. The same applies to manuals.

Sample Files:
Another useful testing technique is to use multilingual test files.
You can create a standard test file with text such as JapaneseTestFile.TXT ChineseTestFile.TXT

Using standard files like this for testing helps test engineers as there is a fixed input to all tests and a standard output. Simply importing/exporting test files like this will highlight many issues in your software very quickly and easily for you.

Translation Questions

Before you begin your translation projects you should consider the following issues: How are Asian Translation projects priced?
Asian translation projects are based either on a per ‘character’ target price or an English source word price. Typically an Asian character is two English words. So a document of 1000 English words would be about 2000 Asian characters. This often means that Asian language costs are more expensive than Western languages.

DTP Costs
As Asian languages are more difficult for westerners to read you may have to outsource your DTP work. You should include a factor for external DTP or software UI correction into your localization budget.

Vendor Selection
When it comes to choosing your vendor always ensure that the translators are based in country to ensure you get the correct local dialect for the target language.

Multi-Byte Character Support

English software typically use about 100 different character to represent words and numbers. So a single character can bit store in a byte—being 8 bits. Asian characters on the other hand can utilize over 10,000 symbols to display its messages. To facilitate this software systems utilize what is termed Multi-Byte of Double Byte Character Systems (DBCS) to store  text/characters. Multi-Byte character support needs to be included in all your software.
A common error in software development is to use 3rd party software (software libraries, DLL, OCX etcs) that are not DBCS enabled. The development team sometime only find this out when they go to translate the product to Japanese of Chinese. So the product then has to be re engineered to fix the issue which is incredibly expensive.

You should always check all 3rd party software correctly supports your target languages before you start. Better still ask the supplier for the translated versions!.

Keyboard: Another important consideration is that keyboards only have some 100 plus keys. So a special entry system is used to enter Asian characters.

Most Asian software use an Input Encoding Methods Editor (IME) to enter Asian characters. For more details see the Microsoft support site for IME. globaldev/handson/user/IME_Paper.mspx

Top 10 Tips for Software Developers

1. Use Multibyte Functions:
Always use multibyte formats of code functions. Check your developer API for more details. Asian characters are more often words not bytes!.
2. 3rd Party Tools:
Test all third party tools, API’s, Addins and plugins are multibyte enabled.

3. UI Separation:
Keep your UI separate from the code. Don’t hard code strings. If you do the translators can see them.

4. Concatenation:
Don’t concatenate strings as not all languages do this. So your code may have be re-engineered later.

5. Chars:
Do not use ‘Chars’ for string parsing.

6. Expansion:
Leave at least 20% expansion room on all dialogs.

7. No Assumptions:
Never assume default values. The default page format in US is ‘Letter’, but not so around the globe.

8. Mock Translation:
Mock translate to ensure everything works before translation begins.

9. Input Methods:
Ensure all character entry methods are IME compliant.

10. Locale Testing:
Check your code handles all Locale issues—See Locale Testing.

Locale Testing—Issues to look out for

Locale Testing:

When it comes to the final testing for your product always check the following.

1. National Conventions
2. Date Format Support
3. Time Format Support
4. Numeric Formats
5. Currency Formats
6. List Separators
7. Telephone Numbers
8. Address Formats
9. Proper Names and Titles
10. Measurement Systems
11. Page Formats
12. Conventions for Capitalization, Uppercasing and Lowercasing.
13. Comparing and sorting
14. Paper size, Envelope Format and Addresses
15. Check your sample file names and contents for locale issues.

It’s a common error to have data in your sample files that causes internal problems. There is a tendency for example to use flags in software to signify country information. This can be politically sensitive in some countries.

Reducing Asian Graphics Translation Cost

GRAPHICS. Remember that the outsourcing of graphics creation and translation is expensive. Particularly so in Asian languages. However with careful planning and some good design this need not be so.
Clever design of your graphics can eliminate cost translation. If you remove the text from the actual graphics this will reduce the cost of translation by more that 95%.
Remove all localisable callout text from graphics and include it in the documentation’s text so that it can be added to a translation memory for reuse.

Replace the callout text with numbered (not lettered) callouts arranged clockwise on graphics and cross-reference the numbers to the text into the main document. This allows the same graphics to be automatically reused in all localised versions.STAR will help you address these and other painfully costly graphics localisation issues so that your picture can really paint a thousand words – in any language.

About STAR

STAR is the 4th largest translation service and technology companies worldwide and the 2nd largest translation technology company. Headquartered in Switzerland, STAR Group is the largest privately held Translation Company in Europe. The company has over 20 years experience in technical information services and employs over 750 employees, working in 35 offices on 4 continents.
We help our clients grow their international sales by providing industrial strength technical translations.
Visit us on to the web

About STAR Asian Translation Services

Asian Translation Strengths
Doing business in Asia is a big step for many companies. As the 2nd largest economy in the world it is an exciting market. STAR’s strong presence in Asia is determined by our conviction that in country translation teams deliver the highest quality.
Our Asian offices are based in:
• Japan
• Korea
• Indonesia
• Taiwan
• China

Localization: Getting it right first time

First-time localization and how to get it right

  1. Is your product internationally ready?
  2. How should you have it translated?
  3. What do you want the translation vendor to do?
  4. What information does my translation vendor require?
  5. Summary

Breaking into international markets is a daunting task for companies. It can be an expensive part of your budget to do it for the first time, so it’s important to get it right. Localization is more than just translating the words. Asking the right questions at the start ensures you deliver a successful and profitable first-time localization project.

1. Is your product internationally ready?

Before you begin translation of your products interface, text and files you need to ensure that the product is ‘Internationally Ready’.

There are two elements to this: internationally enabled and internationally aware.

Internationally Enabled

If a user took your product today and installed it on a French, German of Japanese system, would it still work in English? Even though your product may be developed in English it should
be designed to run on the same operating system in different languages. For example, many network administrator tools are only in English but run on operating systems in every language as English is the common language of many network administrators around the globe.

When talking to your translation vendor you will often be asked if your product is DBCS enabled or Unicode enabled. This essentially asks if your product is designed to handle multiple character sets and is enabled to work on multiple languages operating systems. Your product must be enabled before you can localize it.

Internationally Aware

Translation is more than just words. Around the world there are many local differences; the US uses dollars and Europe uses Euro. Some countries use commas for thousand separators others use the period. There are many elements for which to test your product.

  • Local testing issues
  • National conventions
  • Date format support
  • Time format support
  • Numeric formats
  • Currency formats
  • List separators
  • Telephone numbers
  • Address formats
  • Proper names and titles
  • Measurement systems
  • Page formats
  • Conventions for capitalization, uppercase and lowercase
  • Comparing and sorting
  • Paper size, envelope format and addresses

When it comes to the international testing of your product all of the above local issues need to be covered. You should also check sample file names and contents for local issues. It’s a common error to have data in your sample files that causes internal problems. There is a tendency for example to use flags in software to signify country information. This can be politically sensitive in some countries as is not normally recommended.

Your product should be able to read such items from the operating system instead of assuming defaults value. If you correctly handle the various international elements you are said to be internationally aware.

Watch out for common coding errors

One of the most common faults that prevents product being translated is the hard-coded string. In order to translate a product the translation teams must be able to access your text, dialogs and strings in order to replace them with the target language equivalent.

It is a very common error for software developers to place text inside code such as HelloString = “Hello” + “What is your” + “name”;

Embedding strings in code like this makes it very difficult to translate them.

Top 10 tips for Software Developers

1. Use Multibyte Functions
Always use multibyte formats of code functions. Check your developer API for more details.
2. Third-party Tools
Test all third-party tools: APIs, add-ons and plug-ins and make sure they are internationally enabled.
3. UI Separation
Keep your UI separate from the code. Don’t hard-code strings. If you do, the translators can see them.
4. Concatenation
Don’t concatenate strings as language structure changes from language to language. Your code may have be reengineered later.
5. Chars
Do not use ‘Chars’ for string parsing, unicode characters are multi-byte.
6. Expansion
Leave at least 20% expansion room on all dialogs. Most languages are longer that English.
7. No Assumptions
Never assume default values. The name for the default page format in the US is letter. In Europe it’s labelled A4.
8. Mock Translation aka Pseudo Translation
Mock translate to ensure everything works before translation begins.
9. Input Methods
Ensure all character entry methods are IME compliant for Asian languages.
10. Local Testing
Check your code handles all local issues, see local testing issues

2. How should you have it translated?

There are two schools of thought on how best to translate: binary translation or source file translation.

Binary Translation

If your product is correctly enabled and has followed all the guidelines for separating text from code then this is the ideal method.

You product is compiled as normal. This creates the various running executables DLLs, EXE etc for your product. However as the UI elements are separated from code translation tools can extract, translate and replace text in the binary files. The main advantage of this system is the speed of translation as it does not interrupt your development process. This disadvantage of this system is that you have to track all of the DLLs and program files in your products source control system.

As the translation teams do not touch any code it greatly reduces your exposure to errors. Therefore you do not have to compile your code; testing time is greatly reduced, saving you money
and getting your international product to market faster.

Source File Translation

This is the traditional approach where your source files are sent to the vendor for translation. Translation tools parse your source text and identify the strings for translation. The advantage of this system is that the files transferred can be small. You simply send the files to the translation vendor who returns them. When returned the files are simply dropped back into
the source control system and recompiled. The disadvantage is that it is error prone and errors are usually only found at compile time which is an expensive area of development to fix errors. It also means that you need to test your product more as each language build is essentially a new product.

Why is this important?

There are a variety of different software tools and you need to be aware which ones best fit the method of translation for you, and which ones your translation vendor is strongest with. Each translation vendor has particular strengths: some are better at binary translation, others are better at source file translation. So you need the right system for you and the right system for your vendor in order to be successful.

3. What do you want the translation vendor to do?

This may seem like a simple question but is an important one to ask. There are two options to answering this question.

  • translate the files only
  • deliver a working translated product

Translate the files only

For most companies they prefer to just have the vendor translate the files and return them. These files are then incorporated back into the product development them where the language versions are compiled and foreign language versions build. They are then tested internally or outsourced to a vendor to test.

Deliver a working translated product

The alternative method is to have the vendor fully Localize the product. The translation vendor completely translates, builds and tests the full foreign language product. You then receive back a full working version of your product in the new language. This is often referred to as ‘gold master’ delivery.

4. What information does my translation vendor require?

Is your product enabled?

Most translation companies offer internationalisation (i18N) services. So this is one of the first questions you will be asked. What is important to the vendor if to simply the translation process and eliminate all potential international errors for you before you start.

What file format is your product developed in?

There are a variety of different software tools and you need to be aware which ones best fit your process. Most vendors work with a wide variety of translation tools. Some file formats also require special skills to translate them. So the translation vendor needs to understand what tools are best for your product and what people resources are required to deliver the best product for you.

How many files are in your product? And what is the word count?

Typically translation projects are priced on a word basis for translation and a file basis for engineering work. Having this information enables the vendor to accurately price your translation project for you. You should be aware that prices vary from language to language and vendor to vendor, depending on how their systems and tools work. The more you understand what system best fits your process the easier it is to understand, which is best for you. Cheapest is not always the best.

Before you engage with a vendor you should have the following information to hand.

Internationally enabled
List what languages your product has been enabled and tested for.
Internationally aware
List what international testing your English product has undergone.

File formats used in product

List all file format types here.

Number of files
List the number of files for each type.
Word count
You should be able to identify the types and volumes of words for each file format.

How are we translating?

Source of Binary Method? What are we asking the vendor to do? Translate or deliver gold master?

5. Summary

In summary, the key items to ensure your successful translation project are:

  1. ensure your product is internationally enabled.
  2. decide if translating binary or source files.
  3. decide what exactly you need the translation vendor to deliver.
  4. reaching out to new markets is a very exciting process for any company, especially markets that do not speak your language. It can also be a daunting task when you are new to the translation process. However with careful planning and preparation the process can be done smoothly ensuring it is a successful and profitable venture.

The STAR Team

This document has been compiled by Damian Scattergood, managing director of STAR Translation. Damian has over 20 years of experience in the localization and translation business. He has worked both on the producer side and vendor side of the business. He regularly contributes to industry publications on translation and localization topics and is recognised as an authority in the field of localization.