12 Practices for Software Translation
The global market of software has an estimated value of about half a trillion dollars and it keeps growing in all areas, from ERP advanced systems to indie apps for mobile devices, up to programs which “feed” the Internet. Although falling in expected times and budget, some of these excellent apps will be pushed away, because they will satisfy barely the users’ expectations. As a matter of fact, many of the factors that can contribute to the refusal, like the marketing and the customer care, aren’t under the direct control of developers. But one of the key factors is there: the translation.
The translation allows to customize and improve the importance for the market and the customers’ satisfaction, and also increases the return on investment without additional risks.
In software translation, planning for the global market allows to avoid the ninety-ninety rule (where “the first 90% of the code takes up the first 90% of the development time, while the remaining 10% of the code takes up the remaining 90% of the development time”) and to make easier the translation for different languages in different markets.
Software common problems, like inadequacy to prerequisites, unsatisfying qualitative text and lack of executive attendance, including translation, highlight the weakness of projects management and make worse the negative results, in particular those regarding the satisfaction level of final users.
To avoid a negative result in translation, it is possible to pay more attention to the analysis requirements and to planning phases, ensuring that all the interested parties agree on the markets, on the target languages and on related issues. To globally succeed, translation has to be faced like a strategy, not like a simple activity. It follows that, if the aim is the global market, it will not be necessary redesign anything to exploit a chance.
So, the suggested processes below are basic requirements for the software aiming to address an international audience.
The Developer’s Dodecalogue
Planning Thinking About Localozation
It is possible to minimize delays and costs’ overrunning planning from the beginning a project compatible with translation, in order to prevent bugs, translation and software’s errors.
Complete a Bookcase of internationalized objects
It’s important to remember that internationalization supports localization. The creation of an inventory containing international objects allows to avoid relaborations in the localization in different languages. È importante ricordare che l’internazionalizzazione agevola la localizzazione. La compilazione di una libreria di oggetti internazionalizzati permette, infatti,di evitare rielaborazioni nella localizzazione in più lingue.
Usage of Short Texts
All languages have different structures and different rules and, contextually, they use a different number of words to express an idea. A short and concise content allows to minimize translation problems.
Prediction of Text Expansion
The strings of content translated into other languages can become longer, for example from English to German, or shorter, as from English to Asian languages. For this reason, it is necessary to predict a 30% minimum expansion.
Use Different Texts for Different Contexts
It is important to establish one use for the text, being coherent in its usage, identifying it through a feedback and including it in the glossary.
Icons, free of any text, require less translation and allow to reduce costs. Nevertheless, not all symbols are universal or neutral. For example, in many other cultures, a mailbox in USA style isn’t recognizable. Images of hands, feet, animals or other symbols which can have unexpected or unpleasant meanings should be avoided. It would be better carrying out researches also contacting the translation partner for specific considerations of the market.
Do Not Code Text or Punctuation
A codified text is a text embodied in the source code. When translating, this text has to be pulled out and translated. The language service provider can execute a parser to identify the translatable text, but at a project planning level, it is better to minimize the use of codified text.
It may be caused by an incorrect preparation of the translation’s files. Over translation happens when strings that should remain in English are translated. Instead, under translation happens when elements that should be translated aren’t included in the file sent for translation.
Concatenation is the combination of two text strings which are divided. It is used by developers to reduce the dimension of a string, but it is the reason for many translation problems because it makes the strings very difficult to translate properly. This happens because words order and grammatical rules change from one language to another.
Pseudo-translation is a test technique, in which the text that has to be translated is replaced by fake translations which are created automatically, in order to reveal possible problems before passing to the real translation. This process reduces the risks and highlights possible problems before the investment in translation is carried out.
UTF-8 is the most common Unicode format. It is defined as “the first intelligent characters’ codification in the world”. The use of the UTF-8 codification allows to easily translate in all languages, especially in Asian languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.
Consult a Translation Expert
The language service provider, in addition to control lists for translation in Android, IOS and Windows, can provide deepened information and optimized processes which allow to save time, money and revisions. Clarifying any doubts in the first stages of the process, ensures a compatible development with the translation.
Translation is essential to improve software’s sales and its approval, from the simplest app for mobile devices to the most complex multiuser systems. Satisfying the users’ expectations is not enough because they have to be overcome. So, a software developed for the global market allows to unlock global chances and to hasten the return on investment.