Translation Management System Aids Internationalization for Software Developers

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Internationalization can take up a lot of time for software developers. Fortunately, there is now a new translation management system that simplifies the matter, helping developers get their software “international ready”.

If you are reading this article on a UK computer or laptop, chances are all the menus and dialog boxes on your device are in English. If you would are in France, however, these would all be displayed in the French language.

This clearly shows the importance and scale of software translation Klint Finley says in an article for Wired. In fact, it is a lot of hassle for many developers, not to mention the difficulties that are involved in this process of internationalization.

A company that is faced with these internationalization obstacles is Square. Square is a manufacturer of credit card readers for smart phones and tablets. Next to the text that require translation, Finley says, that the company also has to make sure the currencies and tax laws are displayed in correct form for the country they export to.

Tim Morgan was responsible for this big task during Square’s first internationalization project that commenced in 2012.

Morgan had been working for Square as an inaugural internal tools developer, but when his project was over, the company asked him to work on their internationalization process as they were having trouble with their Canadian expansion. According to Finley, Morgan had no experience with the field whatsoever, but came up with a clever solution: Shuttle.

This management system software for translators is a piece of open source software and can be used for free.

Finley says that as Morgan was a software developer and not a linguist, he first had to find out what was wrong with Square’s internationalization by meeting the employees involved in the process. Here, it became clear to Morgan that their translation tools were in dire need of renewal – most only ran on Windows 98!

After a number of different test versions, Morgan created a Shuttle interface that met the approval of the translators. According to Finley, French language specialist Domitille Lee believes Shuttle greatly increased the development of the company. Moreover, the language memory ensures that the texts are more consistent, Finley says.

The system works as follows: if a developer at Square commits a code, Shuttle scans the code for content that needs translation. This content is checked for items that have been translated previously and is then sent to the translation team. According to Finley, Shuttle does not involve any form of machine translation. Morgan decided to omit this feature as he was afraid it would lead to undesired complacency. However, he says that in the long run, he would like to add “fuzzy matching” to the system, which would provide the translator with options for phrases that are fairly similar to ones that have been translated earlier.

Next to the translation memory, Finley says, Shuttle also features a glossary of terms created by humans. This is quite convenient, as it makes sure that all of Square’s thirty translators use the same terminology. In addition, Finley states that the languages supported by the company, French and Japanese, have a reviewer who must approve all translation before they are used.

According to Finley, Shuttle is only helpful for the translation part in the internationalization. Other segments, such as the adjustment of currencies and tax laws, must still be handled by the developers themselves. However, he still believes the system is very useful as it takes a great deal of work from the developer’s shoulders.

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