RE: Internationalization strategies - long version

Subject: RE: Internationalization strategies - long version
From: Andy Becraft <andy -at- trados -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 11:54:23 -0800

Hi all,

I've gotten a few requests to post my answers to the list, so here goes:

John Garison asks:
>What is the best order in which to approach things?

The same "triage" approach one takes to fixing bugs during development seems
to work:

1. Analyze the current state of internationalization for your product.
2. Address the most critical issues first, such as hard-coded English text,
hard-coded text field or field label widths, string concatenation,
US-specific data formats, source files that can't be processed through
computer-aided translation tools (CAT tools), etc.
3. Address secondary issues, such as US-specific terminology in the GUI text
(e.g. ZIP Code vs. Postal Code), centralizing localizable content, deleting
obsolete text from the code, etc.

>What are the best techniques for extracting text strings from the
>program logic?

Centralizing all of your localizable content makes it much easier for the
localization vendor to translate all of your GUI text. It also makes it
easier for you to update and maintain the English GUI text. As far as
specific techniques for extracting the text, that will depend on how the
application was developed. The web-based application I localized back in
November and December was developed in Java using Apple WebObjects. All
localizable content was stored centrally in plain-text .strings and HTML
files, with keys connecting the text to the code.

>What is reasonable to assume for the time it will take?

Totally and completely depends on the size of your application (i.e. lines
of code, dialogues, etc.). At the very least, I'd plan on I18N taking a few
weeks. If you're developing a massive application such as an ERP or CRM
system, then it may take several months.

>Are there guidelines for translation costs - per word, I assume.

All reputable localization agencies charge for translation by the word.
Period. "Translation" usually involves translation itself in addition to
editing, proofreading, and linguistic QA. Because those tasks are generally
included, the per-word cost quoted by a *localization* agency will be higher
than the cost quoted by an individual freelancer or even a *translation*
agency. If any engineering or testing is required, those additional costs
will be estimated based on the size of your application and should be
charged per-unit or by the hour.

>Are they different for documentation than for code?

Yes, the per-word rate for the GUI will be somewhat higher than for
documentation. You may also want to outsource tasks such as taking localized
screenshots and performing the layout of the manuals and compiling the
on-line help. These tasks would be charged using different metrics, such as
per-screenshot or per-hour.

>What techniques can we adapt to test the results?

Standard testing and QA methodologies apply to localization-specific
testing, functional verification, and quality assurance. If you outsource
testing and/or QA to the vendor, you should provide the vendor with your
detailed test plan.

>What's the best time to bring in a consultant - or should we just
>work with whoever we pick as a translation vendor?

You just did. That'll be $1,250.50, due upon receipt. Just kidding!
Seriously, though, if you feel that books and e-mail lists and the like may
not be enough to get your internationalization effort started, I'd seriously
consider bringing in an expert relatively early. That said, it might be
worthwhile to wait until *some* internal work has taken place, such as a
code review. Most localization vendors also provide I18N consulting
services, but getting an independent I18N expert to come in may provide more
objectivity (the localization vendors who provide I18N services are
ultimately interested in winning your localization business).

>When's the best time to think about a vendor?

Now!! :) Start evaluating which vendors you want to have bid on you project
early on, so that when you're done internationalizing your code, you can
immediately send out the source files for quoting by the vendors.

Here's a short list of some of the major localization vendors, which I
posted to the Framers list yesterday (minus L&H, which is going bankrupt as
we speak):

Berlitz GlobalNET:
Bowne Global Solutions:
Lionbridge Technologies:

For a more complete list of localization vendors, check out the TRADOS web

Last but not least, make sure your vendors are using translation memory and
terminology management tools, <plug>preferably TRADOS tools, of
course</plug>. Naturally, some types of files can't be processed through
TM/CAT tools, but if you build your application so that the source files are
easily translatable in CAT tools, future updates will be much smoother and
less costly because the content can simply be leveraged from the previous
version. See the following article on the TECHWR-L site for more info on
translation memory tools:



Andrew Becraft
Documentation and Localization Manager
Internet Business Unit
TRADOS Seattle
505 5th Ave South, Suite 350
Seattle, WA 98104 USA
Phone: 206.438.5238
Fax: 206.438.5239
E-mail: andy -at- trados -dot- com


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October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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