In-Context Translation: The Missing Piece for Continuous Software Localization

Multinational companies need their software to scale with them in their efforts towards globalization.

The equation is straightforward: when a company goes global, its software needs to be localized for the new markets the company enters, both for software used internally and offered as a service or platform to international clients.

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This was certainly the case for InEight, according to the company’s Localization Project Manager, Leon Leid. InEight develops construction project management software that enables contractors, owners, and engineers to manage construction and capital projects, Leid said in a recent International Buzz Podcast.

InEight started to go into a global market as it expanded its client base in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Naturally, its modular software offering that includes tools for construction project estimation and management needed proper localization.

Not only that, but it required continuous localization that had to keep up with increasingly short release schedules, ranging from quarterly updates all the way up to as-you-go releases for individual features.

Going Up the Stepladder of Localization Maturity

“Localization is always more work than you expect it to be,” Leid commented on the podcast. He explained their localization efforts started relatively small. A client who had been using one of InEight’s flagship software required some localization work, and it all started from there.

As their localization needs increased, they ramped up the complexity and serviceability of their localization infrastructure—from personnel to tech stack. Eventually, the company required a fully integrated translation management system (TMS) as the number of languages they needed to support increased and the software release update schedules became shorter.

If this story sounds familiar, that is because it is the fundamental localization maturity journey.

Companies embark on this journey the same way: reactive localization. The business grows to a point where they need to localize a part of it. Eventually the need remains and even scales along with the business, so much so that they bring in language service providers (LSPs) and / or freelance linguists to help cope. This is the repeatable localization stage of maturity.

During the next couple of stages the company realizes localization has become key to globalization: managed localization and optimized localization. Finally, when transparent localization is part and parcel of the business, the company is considered fully mature in terms of localization.

The Missing Piece in the Software Localization Journey

When it comes to software localization nowadays, Leid said their team learned as they went, and soon some challenges unique to the vertical became apparent. “Hard-coded text is pretty much a thing of the past,” he said, explaining that because each software update requires accompanying localization, their processes and tech stack needed to accommodate near real-time localization.

Today, their developers are up-to-speed with localization considerations, their TMS is connected directly to their code repos, and their workflows are set up properly. They also have a manual quality assurance (QA) team working to ensure perfect deliveries and make use of pseudo-translation to try to catch mistakes before they are made.

Despite all this progress, however, Leon admits there are still improvements to be made, especially in the area of manual QA testing, coping with text expansion, and other ways that a translation may break the software interface.

One significant missing piece or “holy grail” Leon mentioned in the podcast is a true live preview: a test environment that lets translators, editors, and QA edit the translation directly in the software interface in real-time and with perfect connectivity to their linguistic resources.

Every company that requires software localization goes through the same journey as InEight—they likewise come across the same challenges. Without that missing piece, regardless of what measures the company takes, they are still often translating in the dark and increasing the burden on their QA team, which ultimately multiplies costs and time spent by each language they localize into.

The Perfect Live Preview

Live preview is “kind of the magic thing that we were missing,” Leid said in the podcast.

Many preview functionalities in the market today are limited by compatibility issues (they cannot efficiently connect into TMS platforms) or limited use case (e.g. they were specifically made for websites and not webapps, etc). Additionally, most existing Live Preview functionalities are not real-time, “live” previews, but screenshots, which are quickly useless for a single-page application.

For many companies in an upwards growth curve, including InEight, preview functionalities that rely on screenshots restrict their use. Companies may be updating content so in a very short span of time, the same screenshot will not communicate the actual state of the software. Ultimately, capturing screenshots of software that’s constantly changing is not a feasible solution for the need for in-context localization QA.

These are the two obstacles the perfect Live Preview needs to overcome: how to provide live preview without locking-in clients to particular providers due to limited compatibility and inter-connectivity, and actual real-time, in-context QA that can handle previewing text string expansion or contraction and other concerns like the use of pseudo-translations.

Solving this problem maximizes localization resources and ultimately supports the journey to more mature localization, which is a must for successful globalization.

 

Learn how Beebox by Wordbee achieves this perfect live preview for software localization, making it the best-in-class solution on the market today. As a middleware solution, it is completely compatible with your current TMS or service provider, ensuring the connectivity clients need without getting them locked-in at the TMS or provider level. Beebox is also a true Live Preview solution that does not generate screenshots but a real-time preview of the localized software and true in-context editing, along with built-in pseudotranslation and text expansion, and finally, an algorithm that resolves which string goes where in the software interface.

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