Crowdsourcing localization

We strongly believe that localization is one key element of successful application or service. Good example is Facebook which basically skyrocketed after providing their service for other languages as well.

I’ve personally crowdsourced successfully my application localizations quite long time already in my hobby projects and saw that for some people, it’s extremely important to have version available in their own language. After turning these hobby projects to business, ¬†supporting multiple languages started to feel difficult and I decided to release commercial version in English only. That was due to the urgent need to turn the application fast to commercial solution. Managing multiple languages, starting from application level support to translations and testing is really time and money consuming process so for small company like us it’s not often even a good solution. It could go once but there’s always next release around the corner so how in earth you are going to support multiple languages in this agile and lean world where you’re suppose to release often, release early.

Well at least that was the situation yesterday. After recognizing this problem, we’ve been working with the solution (actually already from spring ’09). After all, by localizing we can grow our potential market and create more revenues so it’s worth it. We had three requirements for localization system:

  1. It needs to significantly decrease the overhead needed by localization.
  2. Low cost
  3. It needs to natively support the platforms we develop on (specific localization files etc.)

We noticed that there’s no tools for our needs so we started to develop our own. The solution consists of two simple elements:

  1. Location Management System (LMS). Something similar for localization what we have for source code already e.g. SCM.
  2. Crowdsourcing: our users are going to translate our applications. And yes, they are willing to help us. Why? I’ll give an answer in upcoming posts.

This allows us to create separate process for localization which is running concurrently with our development processes. Which is exactly what we need, no more hassle with the strings. I just post the modified or new strings and they get translated.

Get Localization: crowdsource your app localization

We have soft-launched our alpha version of Get Localization service (http://www.getlocalization.com) this week by inviting companies and individuals who we see could benefit from our offering. Service is under heavy development and we want to take this right direction based on your feedback. We understand that different developers have different needs so we’re eager to understand yours and adapt our service accordingly.

So what is Get Localization? It’s a service providing an easy way to crowdsource application and service localization for your users. The idea for the service came up from our needs, we wanted to localize our own products easily and without massive investment of time and money always when we change and release something.

We feel that crowdsourcing is the solution for our problem. First of all, it’s cost-effective. No need to deal with tens of translators, testing houses etc. Secondly, we’ve been able to build flexible process around it. Think about how much time (and money) you spend during localization phase in your project? We are aiming to completely remove that overhead. Just post your strings and changes during development, your users will take care of the rest.

Third reason is that your users actually know what they are doing, they understand the context much better than someone who has never used your service. Also translation is not provided by one single user but the whole community. Your users are fully able to participate with means of voting, discussion, reporting and of course by providing new better translations.

We are aiming to fully support various mobile and web platforms. This means that we are compatible with file formats, development tools and in some cases we also provide source code for your convenience, e.g. ready-made clients to access our API’s.

Currently we’ve focused on mobile apps, as we see that there’s most urgent need to get them translated. But we are heavily looking into supporting the web technologies as well, as an example we are supporting Django already. As an addition to native platform support, we also provide API’s to extend support even further. We especially encourage you to download translations directly from our service, this allows users to test them instantly. API documentation is not yet available but we are trying to get it online ASAP.

We’ve one example product already up and running. GoogaSync is our product for syncing Google Calendar with Symbian and there’s already people translating it. Go and participate http://www.getlocalization.com/GoogaSync/.

We are eager to hear your feedback of the service, concerns, what ever you’ve in your mind.

Get Localization is developed by Synble Ltd. Company is based on Helsinki, Finland. I’m Petteri Muilu, Founder and CTO of Synble Ltd and you may contact me directly via e-mail petteri@synble.com. Also the whole team is listening our support channel so let us hear what you think!

For more information, see http://www.getlocalization.com.