On this page, we would like to introduce you to how we handle and complete a very large (fictitious) project. Here, you will learn about the approaches and procedures applied when localizing software.
A new customer sends us an inquiry. He plans for an update of a media-control software to be released by mid/end of September 2008 and needs to have it localized into German. The new version is a dot-zero version (6.0)—demands are accordingly high. The project includes the following tasks:
- Necessary correction of legacy translation segments using a translation-memory system (TMS)
- Translation of the new parts of the documentation (operating manual plus texts on a number of plug-ins, some of which were developed by third parties) using the TMS
- Localization and validation of the product website where necessary
- Translation of the documentation for a new hardware control unit for the software (the physical hardware user interface will not be localized)
- Translation of ancillary material
The customer’s localization manager in the United Status is responsible for delivering the final project in five languages. The client and translation provider make initial contact over the phone and discuss the project details. (The localization manager has joined the company just recently.) All data exchange occurs via the internet: FTP, e-mail, etc.
The initial files arrive. The package contains the first batch of documentation texts and the required PDF files as well as a translation memory including almost 47,000 legacy translation units (approx. 520,000 words). These are textual units—mostly complete sentences— that have already been translated. During the weeks to follow until the middle of June, we will translate the first documents (18,000 words) and check the legacy translations.
A TMS called SDL Trados is used for translation. We have used it for many years primarily to reuse existing translations and maximize consistency. Another benefit is the support of data formats from expensive DTP software including FrameMaker, InDesign, or QuarkXPress.
We receive the first version of a resource file containing the GUI elements of the program: buttons, menu items, dialogs, etc. Alchemy Catalyst is a special localization software used to process such files.
The validation and correction of translation segments from earlier versions of the software is now complete. This has many positive effects on the translation quality and consistency: errors were removed, terms standardized, and culture-specific features adapted.
The documentation localization is in full swing—on completion, about 142,000 new words will have been translated. A special aspect of this job is that the files translated by us will later be used to generate both the user manual and the help files. This places greater demands on the actual translation management process.
Every few days we get updated GUI versions because the user interface is being localized bit by bit as the original version is being developed. This happens more often than not nowadays and is referred to as SimShip, or Simultaneous Shipping. Unfortunately, we still have to wait for the design of the hardware controller to be completed; as our customer relies on an external supplier, he cannot influence the timeline.
The external supplier has given clearance for the Hardware controller; the customer forwards the documentation to us. We start translating right away and complete the job in record time. Immediately afterwards, the translation work for the plug-ins begins—some of these are still under construction.
The release date of the final product is scheduled now for September 22nd.
The documentation work is more or less finished; however, stragglers come in every day until the end of the project. Many of these changes address final feature tweaks or bug fixes in the user interface while other last-minute translation requests come in that deal with newly written and urgent marketing and press copy.
The customer sends texts and a layout of the software packaging. The packaging is localized and returned to the States—together with two recommendations on culture-specific issues that may result from the packaging layout.
The customer sends an archive containing the website files in ASP format. Again, we use Trados for processing because that TMS is capable of handling all types of tagged texts. Speed is imperative—the product release date has been brought forward to 8 September due to marketing reasons. We agree with the customer on night shifts for the current week—hardly an exception.
The product website is submitted to us for examination: We make a few corrections and clear it for release.
The customer informs us that all work has been completed: The software is already being distributed to retail and will be in stores within three days. The website still needs to be put online. In the same message, the customer asks for our availability over the next days—the first update (6.0.1) might be due soon, and you never know …