Classic software localization model
Traditionally, software localization has been handled sequentially:
- First, developers build their code, extracting strings as they go
- Software is then tested until a national version of a website/app is ready to ship
- Source strings are sent to translation
- Translation is completed over a few days or even weeks
- Translated strings are integrated into the code
- Finally, an international version is tested until error-free and ready to ship
In this model, marketing departments are faced with the choice to:
- either launch the English version of their websites/app first (and then wait for an international launch, usually several weeks or even months later)
- or delay launching altogether until an international version is completed.
Agile software development
Nowadays, most companies employ an agile development model, where new builds are produced every day, and software is constantly ready to ship. Websites and mobile apps are updated frequently—up to several times a day.This model makes classic localization obsolete, as waiting days or weeks for translations is no longer an option.
Development and translation companies have been forced to create a new model that allows for simultaneous development and translation. Thus, the concept of continuous translation/continuous localization was born.
Continuous translation model
In the continuous translation model, translation begins as soon as developers add new code and extract strings. As code is added, source strings are extracted in an i18n (internationalization) file format, such as:
- Android: .xml
- iOS, Mac OS: .strings, .plist
- Windows: .rc, .wxl
- Unix: .po, .pot
- Java: .properties
Files are automatically uploaded to a translation platform (such as Transifex) through API calls, where it is made immediately available to translators. Once translation is completed, the translated string files are automatically downloaded to the development environment and integrated into the product code.
As developers continue updating their code, they also update the string files, which in turns adds new content to the translation platform. Code and localized content are thus kept synchronized—meaning global product launches can happen anytime, without the need to wait on translators.
The use of a translation platform managed by localization engineers or product managers also fosters collaboration within the extended team. For example, the platform allows translators to ask string-level questions to clarify context, or notify developers of a typo, while allowing developers to upload screenshots showcasing how particular strings will be displayed in the UI.
Continuous translation benefits
With continuous translation, the agile methodology now encompasses both development and translation. This enables teams to synchronize product updates across languages, eliminating time-consuming manual translations, and allowing for daily global launches.
The increased collaboration between developers and translators significantly reduces the number of context-related translation errors. The quick feedback made possible by continuous translation also allows developers to correct misspelled source strings immediately, improving the source version. And as translators no longer have massive amounts of content to translate all at once, they are not faced with the same deadline pressure, which contributes to an improvement in overall translation quality.
Workflow automation reduces the amount of human project management required, resulting in a reduced translation cost. Modern translation models also enable the use of crowdsourcing and machine translation when possible—strategies that tend to be lower cost.
How we can help
e2f, has years of experience providing continuous translation services designed for a modern-day workflow. From mobile apps to website development companies, we’re helping market leaders across the globe to synchronize their worldwide messaging.
Our partnership with globalization management systems Lokalise and Transifex helps us stay one step ahead of the game, creating localization solutions that are as sustainable as they are speedy. Discover how to translate your Transifex content or manage continuous localization through Lokalise.