Software Localization

Definition SoftwareLocalization is the process to adapt a software so that it can be sold in markets outside of the country of origin. Localization or Internationalization basically consists of the translation of the software GUI and documentation. However, the translation of the software GUI requires massive extensions of the software architecture.

FrankBergmann, CTO of a SoftwareLocalization company

The Fundamental Localization Issues

Articles and Resources

How It Works

Let's imagine you have developed a software package that is successful in the US. Now you want to sell it in Germany, France, Japan and China for example. These countries are known to be very picky with language issues and would constantly call your hotline to complain about grammar mistakes, ugly menus etc.

Your first straightforward option is to contract a large "multi language vendor" (MLV). They can provide you with a turnkey solution in exchange for a hefty share of your sales revenues in each country (up to 30%). They have in-house localization management teams that organize the entire localization process for unskilled software companies. Then they send the preprocessed files to "single language vendors" (SLV) in each of the target countries for translation. The SLVs in turn send the files to a number of freelance translators that do the real translation work. These poor freelancers receive only a fraction of the money.

Your second option is to manage the translations yourself and save some 30%-50% of localization costs by contacting SLV vendors or freelancers directly. Also, this option allows you more control on who actually is translating you software (because MLVs frequently change providers). On a down side, you will need somebody familiar with the translation industry and capable of selecting and evaluating the single language vendors. Also, you will need certain IT infrastructure (translation workflow) to manage product releases, particularly with large software packages or when you need to release simultaneously in several languages.

A third option seems to work for open-source software. The OpenACS project for example relies on voluntary work to translate their GUI by means of an integrated localization interface. I have heard about Wiki-based translation of other open-source projects.



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