The Importance of Software Testing

January 10, 2013 by Jon Ritzdorf
Category: Software
global-software-testing

Rapidly expanding global companies know the importance of a solid software localization process. An important part of that process is testing the localized software prior to release.

While this may seem an obvious step, testing of localized software can vary from your English testing process in some significant ways. Here’s a brief description of the services we offer, and why:

1. Internationalization testing: Technically, internationalization (or i18n for us loc industry geeks) covers all of your target languages, but happens before any localization takes place. Why? Some areas of your English software, like date/time/number conventions, data input/output, and search functions may have been built with only American English-speakers in mind, and will need some edits before they go global. Certain issues, like concatenated user interface strings, can wreak havoc in other languages. Before you dig in on localization, spend some time up front to make sure your application has been coded to support your markets and languages, as these can be messy to fix later on in the software development cycle. We can guide your developers to be on the lookout for these prior to code freeze.

2. Localization testing: After your properly internationalized software has been localized, you will want to do a full round of linguistic testing, which is covered below. What you may also want to consider is localization testing, which verifies each localized build against the English, to check for functional and cosmetic issues in each language. While this step does not primarily focus on linguistic accuracy, its main goal is to make sure that the content looks and feels like it was created by native-speaking developers and displays appropriately for each language market you are considering. Some, but not all, of these issues will be covered if you choose to proceed with internationalization testing prior to localization, and each language will introduce its own set of variables to the mix during translation, so a little localization testing never hurts.

3. Linguistic testing: This is, by far, the most important piece of the software testing process. Here, linguistic testers review the running localized application within the local operating system (OS) and on relevant browsers, which can affect how the localized content is displayed. While great care is taken to make sure translations are linguistically accurate prior to build, most software strings must be checked in the running application for contextual accuracy. Occasionally, bugs such as string corruptions or truncations can be introduced after compilation, even when the source text is perfectly fine. Just as with your English builds, there is value in testing your localized builds prior to runtime to make sure everything looks and reads the way it should. This is especially important for bi-directional languages, like Arabic and Hebrew.

You may have in-country offices or partners that can take on some of these steps, or you may choose to hire a localization company to support you. Either way, know that your software's languages can act very differently from English, and can pose their own unique challenges, so be sure these don’t delay your product launch.

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