Writing Content for Localization

Writing Content for Localization

Localization in any organization doesn’t limit only to translating and adapting source texts and other materials to a target market. A good and also cost-effective localization process starts earlier than in the moment when the developers send texts to translators. It naturally contains all necessary technical steps, but we’ll skip them this time and focus on the translatable texts themselves and what you can do to make them efficient from a localization point-of-view.

Many of these tips are quite general so they will help you improve your original texts too. They have been written especially with UI, help and support materials in mind – writing for your landing page might be a completely different ballgame but many of the rules apply there too.

Fluent and Correct

Would you trust a linguist to do code for you? I wouldn’t either (and I’m a linguist). Don’t put too much trust in your developer’s linguistic ability either.

Software and other web content are nowadays mostly written in English, which often is a good choice for localization and translation purposes, as the most translators around have English as one of their source languages. But other languages are used too.

Whichever your writing language of choice is, make sure the texts are well written. If your own or your developer’s English is not that good, have the texts edited by someone whose knowledge is more solid. “Engineering English” might create misunderstandings for your users, and those misunderstandings will get multiplied in localization.

Consistent Terminology

Stick to the terminology you choose and make everybody who is writing content also aware of it. This also means not using one term for several concepts. This might in many cases leave the translator wondering which of the concepts you’re referring to – and even get yourself in trouble when you want to mention those two concepts in the same sentence. Put a system in place to manage and spread terminology in your organization.

Reuse

At school, you learn that you shouldn’t be overly repetitive when writing, so you don’t make the reader bored. This is mostly true, I don’t want to argue with your elementary school teacher, but when writing software texts, repetition is your best friend. And this goes for basically any help and support texts too – or anything you write with localization in mind.  Identify parts of text that appear in many places and don’t rewrite them. The commonly used localization tools identify what has been translated earlier and you can usually have those parts translated automatically. The more similarities the new texts have with old ones, the less their translation costs. Repeated terms and structures are easy for the translators.

Using the same terms and structures also makes things easy for your user: they will be more familiar with different parts of the UI and have a more fluent experience.

Be Concise

Don’t write overly long texts unless you have a true motivation for that. English is often shorter than many other languages, e.g. German translations tend to be around 3o% longer than English texts, so don’t aim at filling all available space already in the English version. Other than that, concise texts are mostly user-friendly, too. You don’t want your users to leave your page because of texts that take ages to read and are difficult to understand, right?

Localization cost is almost always directly tied to text length, so this point is also directly linked to your bottom line.

Text in Graphics

If you want to make localization easy, embed as little text as possible into graphics. Each time you localize texts that you have as graphics means manual labor, which means more costs. Each time you add a language you need to update all graphics manually.

Cultural References

Funny slang words can nicely spice up a text, as will idiomatic expressions. And make you sound like someone who really masters the language. But at the same time, they make localization more difficult and might even be nearly impossible to translate. For translators, there are ways to get around that, but you don’t want to make translating more difficult and error-prone. The same goes rid of jargon and metaphors, you need to get rid of them.

A Final Pointer

Being customer centric pays off in localization too: if a text is optimal for a user in your own language area, it probably is easy to localize.

Photo by Thomas Lefevbre.

Hidden Costs Of Localization

Hidden Costs Of Localization

icebergWhen you think about localization costs, what is the first thing that to your mind? Did you just say translation prices? You are not the only one who would say that. Sometimes that might even be true, but let’s consider a more likely alternative.

We have come across localization projects, where the actual translation cost is somewhere around 10% of the cost of the whole project (and no, I’m not exaggerating). It doesn’t take that advanced math to see where the possibilities for biggest cost savings lie in those cases.  To be honest the ratio of translation and other localization costs is usually not quite this extreme, but would most likely surprise you anyway.

What are those other 90% of costs then? Those costs can e.g. be related to various project management tasks and handling different file formats. Of course, you can’t take away all of that, but for sure some of it.

So here’s a short checklist for you. If you recognize some of the below tasks as something you or your colleagues often do in localization projects, then you have an idea of what hidden costs of localization are:

  • Copy-pasting texts from your resource files to various file formats for translation and then again translations from various file formats to your resource files
  • Sending emails to translators to check how much they have translated
  • Converting your files to different formats
  • Getting charged by translation agencies for converting your files to formats used by the translators
  • Receiving several Excel worksheets with queries from translators

The key to getting rid of these hidden costs? To put it simply, a thought-out process and tools that are focused on you, not only the translation service provider. Lean localization is not a myth, but something most organizations can achieve by taking a critical look at their old habits.

Looking Forward to a Busy Autumn

Looking Forward to a Busy Autumn

Over here the weather is getting colder, but the conference season is getting hotter. We’ll be keeping busy and here are a few places where you can find us in the coming months:

Web Summit in Dublin (October 30–31)

tekom-Jahrestagung 2013 in Wiesbaden (November 6–8). Check out our presentation about Crowdsourcing in the Localization Process and our stand in booth 442 in Hall 4.

Slush 2013 in Helsinki (November 13–14)

Nordic Translation Industry Forum in Stockholm (November 21–22). We’ll be presenting on the second day about ‘Lean Approach – Better Customer Service’.

Looking forward to meeting lots of interesting people and hearing a bunch of killer presentations! Get in touch with us if you would like to exchange thoughts about localization, start-ups, your app, the weather in Finland – or anything else.

See you there!

Meet Innova

Meet Innova

Today we’ll continue with short presentations of some of our awesome clients and meet Mika from Moscow based Innova.

innova_logo

Q1. Tell us about Innova!

We publish MMO games such as Lineage 2, Aion, PlanetSide2 among others and design iPhone based projects. If you have ever heard about DigitWar and Creativium they will be one of them. We also offer an online cinema store ayyo.ru and invest a lot of effort into the development of our online gaming platform 4game that lets you download and launch titles directly from your browser. There are currently around 250 employees all hugely committed and passionate about their work. Our offices are located in Luxembourg, Moscow and Yerevan.

Mikael Geletsyan

Q2. Please tell us about yourself.

I am Mikael Geletsyan and have been in a Product Manager role for 4game from the inception of the project. I care deeply about each of our efforts and try my best to hear out any great idea that can add value to our project and take it on board. I make sure every detail, everything that ends up in front of our users’ eyes gets our best attention.

Q3. How are you using Get Localization?

We have been using Get Localization to support the multi-language availability of the gaming platform 4game. The program feeds us with all the texts on the website, emails and the game application. Currently we are maintaining Russian, English and German and Polish languages. We further plan to offer our users Korean and Portuguese versions. The implementation of Get Localization into our routine was quite smooth as it supports PHP Array, the most suitable format for us. That coupled with API allowed us to entirely and easily automate the integration across all our localization processes.

Q4. Would you have localization tips or best practices that you would like to share?

Here’s my tip: use Get Localization not only to translate texts but also to edit and copywrite them already after their publication. Just sign up your translators, editors and copywriters and you will see the synergy it will produce. We are already ripping these benefits.

de4game

Thanks for taking a few moments to chat with us, Mika!

Get Localization Testfront (BETA) and other updates

Get Localization Testfront (BETA) and other updates

Introducing Get Localization Testfront

We have always been strong advocates of giving translators context information and have emphasized its importance in pursuing an efficient translation process. Whether the translators are professional or from the community, they will translate the content wrong if they don’t understand the context. However, the performance of the translators is also equally important, they need to be able to work fast and immediately get it right.

Websites and web apps are challenging as they can be huge and contain a lot of hidden content such as dialogs and different pages. There’s a lot of content to translate and therefore testing and finding the right context is difficult. Get Localization Testfront is an additional tool to our editor to test & refine the translations on the page itself. There you can immediately see whether your translation properly fits in layout-wise and context-wise.

As they say, a screenshot is worth a thousand words so here are a few:

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You can preview the translation in the web page itself

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So what you can do is that you can review the translation in its actual layout right in the editor, the same place where you do the translation. You can also edit the translation on the page itself and switch between the normal editor and Testfront by just clicking a button. Testfront also learns more when it’s used and is able to find the exact page where the string appears.

We are currently in the beta stage with this, so you can enable the feature in the Settings if you want and let us know how it works for you.

New Profiles

You can also see that the new profiles have finally landed. Your profile page is now much clearer than before and provides more information about the projects you are participating in. This has been a very popular wish so let us know what you think!

Android Context Information

Android files can now contain context information by defining a comment attribute to string element, for example:

<string name="menu_stop" comment="After item Start in Menu">Stop</string>

This context information will be displayed in the context field in the translation editor and help the translators to get their translation right the first time.

Updates to Get Localization Editor

Updates to Get Localization Editor

We are today introducing a new version of our editor. It brings a lot of new features and improvements especially for power users, professional translators and proof-readers.

1. New toolbar design and search

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We have removed the old menu bar and introduced a simple toolbar design that brings all the most needed features to one place. For example all the different search functions are now merged to one simple UI.

2. Better tag/placeholder management

editor+interpolator

You can now use shortcut (ALT+DOWN) to copy the next placeholder or tag to editor. You can also browse placeholders and tags using ALT+RIGHT and ALT+LEFT shortcuts. Or you can simply copy the placeholder by clicking it.

3. Screenshots

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Additionally to context text, you can now add screenshots to provide more information about the string.

And much more…

You can now try the new version by clicking the link in the old editor. Old editor will retire on 6th of May. However premium project owners who contact support may continue using the old editor six months from now.

Introducing Get Localization for Mac (BETA)

Introducing Get Localization for Mac (BETA)

gl-mac-iconNo more ibtool, genstrings or dragging xib and strings files around. Get Localization for Mac is here!

Get Localization for Mac is by far the simplest way to localize your iOS and Mac OS X apps that have been developed using Xcode. It manages all the files and it generates the strings files from your Objective-C and XIB files and updates them. It also syncs them between Get Localization and your Xcode project. Just select your .xcodeproj file, log-in and select the project where you wish to sync your strings files and you are ready to go.

But first let’s walk through how to internationalize your iOS or Mac OS X app. If you are familiar with internalization for iOS and OS X you can skip this part.

Prepare Your App for Localization

Objective-C (.m and .mpp files)

In order to localize your app you simply need to wrap all the hard-coded strings with an NSLocalizedString function call in your Objective-C files. For example:

[alert setInformativeText:NSLocalizedString(@"Hello World"@"This is a comment, it appears in Get Localization editor")];

XIB files

xcode-1Get Localization for Mac will automatically manage all your XIB files and related strings files. All you have to do is to select  in Xcode which XIB files to localize.

1. First select the Xib file and then open File Inspector (typically the first document icon to the right, see screenshot)
2. Click the ‘Localize’ button. When Xcode asks if you want to localize, choose ‘yes’. It’s also recommended to select English here as a language as the BETA version only supports English as a master language at the moment.  You don’t need to add any languages here, rest will happen magically.
3. This will move the selected xib file to en.proj directory. This is normal and required by the process. Language specific folders and xib files are built automatically for you by Get Localization for Mac when you choose to sync the files.

That’s it. Now your app is ready for localization.

Localization Made Easy with Get Localization for Mac

Get Localization for Mac automates everything. It will

  • Configure your Xcode project properly
  • Generate Localizable.strings files from your Objective-C files
  • Generate XIB specific strings files from each XIB that is marked for localization in Xcode (resides in en.lproj folder)
  • Update your existing translations to Get Localization if they are available in your Xcode project
  • Add these files to the Xcode project automatically (no need to drag’n’drop every file manually)

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You can add multiple Xcode projects to Get Localization for Mac to sync them easily.

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Just drag’n’drop your Xcode project to a new empty Get Localization project or choose any existing project you have access to. If you have any existing translations in your project, they are updated as well. Please note that if your project is big, it may take a moment to process all your files when uploading for the first time.

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You can choose which languages to sync to your Xcode project. Just simply click “Sync” and  latest translations are updated to your app and new strings files are generated and sent to translation.

Try It Out – Download the Beta

Please note that Get Localization for Mac is an early beta version. It will be later available through Mac App Store but now during the public beta phase you can download it via the following link.

Download Get Localization for Mac BETA

Please report all the bugs or problems that you may find by creating a ticket in our support system.