Software localization is almost like adding a fresh coat of paint to a room, readying it for its new role. Think that’s a bit of a stretch? Here’s what we mean:
Prime Before You Paint: Software Internationalization (i18n)
Internationalization (abbreviated in our industry as “i18n”) enables your software to handle the language and conventions of your target market. Like primer before picking a specific color for a wall, i18n preps your software for adaptation to your target markets. While English may be the native environment where you developed your software, by the time you’ve internationalized it, English is “just another color” on your wall.
While it may be tempting to localize before internationalization, investing the time upfront to prime your code will save you time and money in future translations. For those who need to know about i18n, but don’t live and breathe it every day, our article “English is Just Another Language” dives into why i18n is so important to the software localization process.
Matching Colors: Data Entry Localization (L10n)
Software localization (abbreviated “L10n”) is more than language translation and making sure the cultural norms, symbols, and conventions are taken into account when releasing a new international version of your software. Since software depends on data entry, you’ll want to ensure your forms and various input fields comply with name and address conventions in your target markets.
For example, the location of postal codes within an address varies by country. Phone formats also change. And one variable that often comes up is naming, which varies by culture. Some cultures use the equivalent of Ms., some don’t. You can learn more about in our article, “Why Names Could Stump Your Localized Software.”
Checking Your Trim Work: Localized Software Testing
In any big project there are likely to be a few drips or sloppy edges. Like its English counterpart, localized software testing is essential in order to ensure a smooth release. You’ll more than likely need to look beyond your English testing scope, as different languages present their own testing challenges, and it may be worth your time to invest in in-country testers to help you spot the slop. We look at internationalization testing, localization testing, and linguistic testing in detail in our article, “The Importance of Software Testing.”
Didn’t think we could pull that one off, did you? Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go scrape primer off our testbed.