App Localization Goes Back to the Future – What’s Changed Since the 90s

Suffice it to say that a lot has changed since the 1990s. Blockbuster may not be around anymore and you’ve probably traded in your pager for an iPhone. But some software developers are still treating app localization like it was 1997 all over again.

App Localization

Back in the old days, translating websites and software programs into different languages was a totally manual process. You had to load translation files one by one, translate content line by line, then flip it all back into your app once you were done – for every iteration of every language.

While 90s alternative music might be making a comeback, the old methods of translating website and app content have changed for the better. Here’s what you need to know to keep your localization team from regressing back to the days of thick-striped shirts and leather backpacks.

Code Replaces Translation Files

Software SDKs make the app localization process easier than ever before. Just add a line of code to your application or website and content can be automatically extracted and delivered to the localization platform for translation. Machine translation engines do most of the heavy lifting for you, allowing you and your translation teams to simply go into the app, make edits as needed (you can do it right in the web/app interface), and publish translations as you go. And because you’re using an automated system, you preserve completed translations and easily re-apply them across future projects.

Language Service Providers Lighten the Load

Globalization has created a brave new world for professional translators. There is no shortage of talent out there these days, and full-service LSPs help you turn even a tough technical translation job into a perfectly-nuanced linguistic achievement. The businesses of LSPs like One-hour Translation, Gengo, and many others are booming, and their services can be easily integrated into core localization platforms. In one centralized place, you identify the right translators based on your needs, manage every phase of your localization project and ultimately feel confident that your app has the native stamp of approval for rollout into each country.

Leverage a Community of Users

Collaboration is another area that has changed dramatically since the 90s. In the old days, you worked in isolation, creating unique translation strings for every localization project and starting over for every new language. What about simple translations that must have been completed by others in the past, such as common UI buttons or user instructions? Now, Universal Translation Memory (UTM) lets you access an entire database of common translations that have been uploaded onto your localization platform. No need to develop or pay twice for translations that already exist (and are proven to work in the live apps and websites that used them before).

Let’s face it: there was a lot to like about the 1990s but for localization professionals, it’s time to move on from the past. Linguistic and localization technology, automation, professional translators and collaborative networks are all bringing app and website localization back to the future. So jump in your DeLorean and get on board!


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