Software Localization


Software Internationalization [I10N] defines and informs your localization effort. This is where things can get confusing, software developers and key stakeholders have to define locales [where to?] and then investigate things such as date formats, postal codes, naming conventions, local laws and many other variables that can break functionality or create a poor user experience.

Take the example of the common AC electrical plug, there are over 14 different types used worldwide, 8 different electrical potentials, and 2 different AC frequencies. [http://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/map.htm]


Compass has experience in dealing with internationalization and the complexities of localized software deployment. Be it a website, an embedded system, a mobile app or any textual or visual representation, the rules and challenges are the same. We know the world's languages and can help you meet the cultural expectations of the world's users.


The Basic Process

  • Export Strings
  • Prepare Strings
  • Translate Strings
  • Import Strings
  • Test Build/UAT

Compass Languages can help with each stage of the process, including Pseudolocalization. Pseudo what? This is a simple step where random "gibberish" characters are put into the strings allowing a basic test of functionality in rendering non-Latin [UTF-8] character sets. It also helps test your import/export process for your software environment. After localized strings are provided and input, Compass performs a review the output. Did all the labels fit? Do the characters render properly? A comprehensive UAT can be supported by skilled linguists so your Users don't have to.


What to watch out for before you start.

Software is by nature full of technical requirements, and I10N not only adds more, it brings along a new vocabulary to your development effort, it requires development and QA processes to adapt to different requirements. For example, user requirements for Arabic require all displays to be "flipped" and text reads Right To Left, Hindi requires special fonts, and just like the AC adapter all these are basic entry-level user expectations; let alone the aspirational end user story that your customers deserve.


Practical tips:

To better handle user needs, researching the encoding and display environments can get most developers fairly far along. The Unicode Common Locale Data Repository [CLDR http://cldr.unicode.org/ ] is a great place for software engineers and developers to reference specific requirements--there's also a wealth of information on the web. Occasionally, Compass is called upon to provide additional local user insights--this is particularly important in places like India where certain fonts, typing styles [like keyboard layouts] are still evolving. If there's a frontier in the language, we can help you ford it.

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