The what, why and how of cross-platform software localization
The what, why and how of cross-platform software localization

When developing multi-lingual software to be deployed across a variety of operating systems, the technical complexities of translation and localization are abundant. To ensure your release is not delayed by unnecessary back and forth, a cross-platform localization strategy is the key. But what is it, and how can you ensure it is carried out properly? Getting the help of an experienced LSP is the first step, but here are some insights to help you prepare for a conversation with them.

If you are an app developer, you are likely to have faced at least some of the challenges of string localization across multiple platforms. How can you make sure your UI text is localized accurately for a variety of operating systems? And what is the fastest way to ensure your various file types remain compatible with your work environment after being translated? What information do you need to provide your LSP with? In this article, we have answers to your questions.  

What is cross-platform software localization? 

As with all software localization, the key to this type of linguistic service is ensuring that your product adapts to a target market, not just in terms of language but also culturally and functionally. But when we speak about a cross-platform type of localization, we refer to the process of leveraging one localization process for all of the different file types and platforms involved.  

This means that, contrary to common understanding, you do not need to independently localize your strings for each separate type of file. Instead, your LSP can use specialized technology and QA strategies to ensure the work involved in one localization process can serve multiple operating systems, without compromising the functionality or the quality of your user’s experience.  

Imagine, for example, that you are developing an app which needs to run on iOS and Android. Localizing similar strings for each of those system’s file formats can be easily done through the use of Translation Memory (TM) technology. And you do not need to worry about translators and linguists accidentally altering encoding or delivering multiple localized files that you need then manage. By requesting a cross-platform localization service from your LSP, you can simply leave the technicalities in their expert hands.  

Why is cross-platform software localization important? 

The main reasons why you want to partner with a cross-platform localization expert — when developing new software — are: functionality, accuracy, and speed.  

Thanks to the use of Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, a professional LSP that is involved in your app development process can manage your diverse file formats easily and efficiently. They can create specific settings to adjust to your project files and work with your developers to make sure the delivered files are compatible with your platform, in advance. You will not only ensure functionality, but also save time when pulling the localized content into your work environment. 

Also, because your product will need to interact with a variety of operating systems, you’ll need to ensure the User Interface (UI) terminology is translated in accordance with the recognized target language terminology in each of those operating systems. Your LSP should have experience in localizing apps for each of those systems, so that they know the terminology in advance and can provide the required glossaries.  

But the benefits don’t end here; your LSP can use one TM to process all of your files, so that translated segments are applied to all equivalent strings, no matter the format or OS. Naturally, this creates consistency and accuracy, while speeding up your development process. In short, Cross-platform localization can save you time, money and technical efforts. It will not only make programmers’ lives easier, but it will truly reflect on your bottom line. 

How to ensure cross-platform software localization is done right 

The keys to success, when it comes to cross-platform software localization, are to involve your LSP early in the development process and to provide them with project details. But what does this mean, exactly? 

What does early mean? 

When planning to localize your app or software to one or more alternative languages and across several platforms, the text that will be used for your user interface will be written only after the building is complete. This means the translation can only start after this writing is finished. If you are thinking of contacting your LSP only at this stage, it may be a little late. Having your LSP involved earlier on in the project — even during the building stages — can make a great difference in planning and preparing for specific challenges ahead.  

What details does the LSP need to know? 

Take for instance, the case of character limitations. Because translated versions of your source text can, and often will, take up a different number of characters, your LSP can ensure there are checks in place to prevent any potential issues down the line. Also, when involving several file types, your LSP can apply specific settings to their translation tools to ensure all deliverables can be smoothly integrated into your work environment.  

Other aspects to keep in mind 

Another key part of the process is Quality Assurance (QA). In order to avoid coding errors, among others, it is essential that your LSP can have QA processes in place before translation starts. Having them collaborate in your planning from an early development stage will give them sufficient time to prepare such QA checks.  

What to do when the ideal scenario is not possible 

Having stressed the fact that early integration of your LSP is the best possible scenario to ensure cross-platform localization works smoothly and efficiently, we understand this may not always be possible. If you are at an advanced stage in your software development process and you are yet to agree on a localization strategy, do not despair. You should not hesitate to contact your LSP for assistance at any point.  

At Stillman Translations, we have an experienced software localization team and we use the latest translation technology. We will be happy to help!