Software Localization

Localization is the process to adapt a software systems to the language and the customs of other countries. Localization is frequently underestimated both by technical staff and management in terms of the organizational issues that appear and the financial resources thar are required to succeed.

This page is meant to give you a first idea about what you have to expect when you plan to localize you software system.

Common Issues

The following issues are common to most localization projects:

  • Localization Software Architecture:
    Localizing a monolingual application often requires to change the core of the application (relational data model, core Java classes, presentation layer, ...). And these core structures have to be in sync with the requirements of the translation workflow management. Fortunately, there are a set of software patterns that repeat itself even across different languages and technologies.
  • Translation:
    The translation process is expensive and slow. An average translator is able to process about 3000 words per day, with quality reductions in the case of time pressure. Considerable coordination problems occur if several translators are working at the same project (terminology management). Also, the translation quality sometimes becomes an issue if the wrong type of translators is employed.
  • Multilingual Consistency Maintenance:
    Most localized products have a lifecycle that includes changes to the application, the GUI and/or the accompanying documentation. These changes again have to be kept in sync between all target languages, requiring a considerable organizational overhead. These issues are typically addressed by the:
  • Translation Workflow:
    Is the

  • Process Consulting:
    Maintaining multilingual software and its documentation across version changes and updates if very difficult and requires a very specific set of processes. Please see the section about Localization for details.



  • Strategies for a global rollout
    An introductory InfoWorld article about the challenges the GE has faced during the gobal rollout of their e-commerce services. The article carefully distinguisheds between "internationalization" and "localization".

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Generated 11.2.2004 by Frank Bergmann