Software translation implies more than just the mere translation of the product’s user interface. In order to reach a larger audience, companies must adapt to the target country’s culture. Localization, in this case, stands for the complex operation that consists in translating the software and also in adapting it according to the linguistic conventions and cultural specifics of the users from the target country.
Software must be written in such a way so that it would be quite easy to adapt (i.e. translated) later, according to necessities, into different cultures and languages. Localization and internationalization go hand in hand.
Internationalization consists, basically, in developing a product in several languages. All the parts of software that need to be translated are separated from the software itself and adapted to the specifics of the country for which the software is meant.
For each project, its manager, in close collaboration with the engineers, should develop a schedule that indicates all the necessary steps required to make the localized software lucrative. Software translation mainly concerns the three basic components of a product: the graphical user interface, the on-line help and the documentation.
For the user interface, of great importance are the resource files, having the extension .rc. They contain what the user is most likely to see and displayed in the form of menus, dialog boxes, error messages, cursor shapes, bitmaps, etc. There are usually just segments of the resource files that need to be translated.
Some examples would be the text that appears on some of the most common bitmaps, the splash screens, or the text strings that are displayed in menus and dialog boxes / error message boxes.
- The identification of what must be translated from a software, and adopting a localization strategy based on the sales statistics.
- Establishing a strict schedule for the localization process, including deadlines for each stage in the process.
- Finding and recruiting adequate, professional translators, preferably with recent, significant experience in the target countries.
- Establishing a close collaboration relationship with the translators to ensure the accuracy and coherence of their work.
- Consulting the development team on aspects that could facilitate the localization process.
- Defining a properly internationalized product that won’t need to undergo changes for each of the envisaged foreign languages.
- Testing the product for each and every one of the languages in question.