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Language Industry News and Events

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Localization Immaturity Model: Are We There Yet?

Language in Business, Language Industry News and Events, Travel and Culture

The reality of the “gig economy”. Incessant talk about “Millennials“. Language startups and their hoody culture.

Is there no end to being made feel “old” these days?

old

As I look around me at those new faces I see at industry conferences and compare it with my Twitter “Following” list, I wonder if I might be “old”? Could I be missing out on emergent trends or not making the right connections – not so much for the future, but for right now? Would I survive in the startup world or the gig economy of today?

Answers: Don’t care. No. No. Dunno.

But, is it just me?

In particular reference to “Millennials, I concur with the notion that age or generational labeling can lead to some pointless stereotypes for sure. More seriously, this failure to recognize the value of older people in any industry is evidence of a lack of diversity and fairness of opportunity. Diversity is about more than race or gender. Everybody loses from a missing “experience”.

I don’t feel old. I can still kick the ass of people half my age. I just enjoy it a lot more now. It’s really not about being physically old but about not contributions that are well past their sell-by-date that is the issue, I guess. As Arnie might say, it’s more about being obsolescent than being old. So, who cares what age you are?

Do you feel old in this industry of ours now? Then again, perhaps you just are…

Comments welcome.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

Moravia and new directions

Language Industry News and Events

Common Sense Advisory had an insightful post about Moravia’s recent change in ownership to now-majority shareholder Clarion and influx of $100 million in revenue. Don DePalma notes that “Investors love software, but the reality is that somebody has to assemble the pieces,” and suggests that we may see more LSP acquisitions such as this in the future.

This may mark a turning point in how our industry is perceived. Even here in Northern Idaho, I’m running into the situation where more and more local friends (who have no idea what I do exactly) talking about their companies’ attempts at global expansion. Investors are starting to pay attention to our industry in ways they were not before; startups are still struggling to make sense of it all, more of them all the time.

As Moravia is now well aware, startups can become full-fledged global businesses with the right direction. Our industry is finding new ways to provide that direction, and it’s exciting.

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Katie Botkin, Editor-in-Chief at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing. She has extensive experience with niche American microcultures across the political spectrum.

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Smartling: Developing the Cloud Translation Experience

Blogos, Language Industry News and Events, Translation Technology

Smartling Logo

After meself and himself of Smartling met at the Websummit, I wanted to look at a forthcoming Smartling self-service offering suitable for software developers. When Jack Welde (@jwelde) (i.e., himself) gave me the nod, I got to it, taking the opportunity to reflect on the developer experience and enterprise translation, generally.

Offering translation “as a service” for developers faces two related issues: how to make it easy for busy developers to get stuff translated without disrupting their core activity, and how to build a business model out of all that. My main concern is the developer experience, but it’s obvious the Smartling startup puck is heading towards the enterprise.

Exploring Smartling

Smartling is a rising star, with 65 million USD in funding; regarded as the industry disruptor to watch in 2015.

Smartling packs a REST-like API to integrate with, and connect to, development environments for software resources of all sorts, web-based content, documentation, and so on. From a developer perspective, a PaaS ability to use APIs to hook up translation to IDEs, dev environments and source control systems, is a must-have feature. Eliminating on-premise hardware and consulting set up time offers more ROI and productivity.

It was easy for me to get going in the Smartling browser-based UI, uploading a Java properties file, and exploring the features.

Smartling uses a very cool Context Capture API to associate visual context to HTML content for translation. Connecting a rendered UI to translatable resource string IDs (offering a preview of the translation into the bargain) makes for a better final deliverable. Behind-the-firewall HTML content can be similarly contextualized using the Chrome Context Capture extension.

Previewable source and target strings shown in context during translation

Previewable source and target strings shown in context during translation

Externalization of content from code is key to having developers on your side. Most IDE and file formats have i18n/L10n support to abstract away translation risk, so Smartling has a great baseline to enable quality translation and development productivity alike, the translator UI protecting valuable coding goodness from damage during the source-to-target language change.

Smartling provides automatic extraction of a glossary for review, a way to include style guidance, and offers features in the translator UI to define and move about patternized placeables, dashboard reporting, and so on. Mucho flexibility, if you need it.

Extracted glossary entries

Extracted glossary entries

Smartling also enables customization of the translation workflow to suit business needs. For example, different translation workflow steps might be tailored to involve particular stakeholders before the translation is finalized (enterprise stakeholders, beyond end users, are that “political third rail”; forgotten with disastrous results).

Easy customization of translation workflow steps

Easy customization of translation workflow steps

I conjured up my own translations, but Smarting integrates with human and machine translation for a quality result.

What developers care about is a productivity solution in the cloud that resonates with their world of work, and that worked for me. I liked the Smartling approach. It was easy to set up, to integrate into processes, to see stuff translated in context, and to get valid translated files back for the build or deployment stage.

Understanding Developers

The “translation as a service” model is not new. GitHub, APIs, Python, Ruby, Node.Js, PaaS, and so on, are now standard parts of the developer lexicon. Yet, the localization industry continues to play catch up with developer community happenings, whether they be FOSS-based or corporate.

Developers are not translators, and don’t want to be. Empathizing with the developers’ world is the foundation for ideating together on smart solutions. Smartling has already done some awesome developer outreach such as the LinguaHack event in Kiev (others, please take note).

LinguaHack 2014 from Smartling on Vimeo. Click to launch.

Smartling LinguaHack Hackathon in Kiev, 2014

So, Smartling looks like a fine solution from the developer perspective; one for builders to get apps, websites and documentation translated easily and out there into the global market. It is, of course, an on-going story.

Smartling nails the notion that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to translation for developers, and from my explorations the solution hits the mark with cloud-based developer productivity and usability.

To use all Smartling features optimally is really an enterprise-level undertaking. Developers will never rush to attach contextual images or add descriptive notes to strings. Reviewing glossary extractions, creating translated terminology, and so on, are not developer competencies. Such things require a team: localization managers, translation coordinators, terminologists, information professionals, and others working further upstream in the software development lifecycle.

Enterprising Solutions

Enterprise translation requirements now go far beyond app resources, HTML sites, and documentation. It’s a complex business, and comes with critical performance, scalability and security prerequisites. Sure, it’s unglamorous, but as Oscar Wilde says, it’s better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

Enterprises need to see real ROI and have incentives to move from current solutions. This is true of on-premise to SaaS adoption generally; there are other constraints too. Like user experience generally, making that decision “depends”.

So, I’ll be watching where that enterprise translation puck goes in 2015 for Smartling, and for others.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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When Myself and Himself of Smartling Met at the #Websummit

Language in Business, Language Industry News and Events, Translation Technology

Delighted to say that I’ve finally met in person with Jack Welde (@jwelde) of Smartling. We’ve been missing each other for about 12 months now due to our gallivanting around the world taking care of our respective responsibilities. And where better to meet the man than at the Dublin Websummit (“Where the Tech World Meets”, as they say)?

Myself and himself at the Websummit. A selfie, naturally.

Myself and himself at the Websummit. A #selfie, naturally.

I was impressed with Jack’s take on technology and localization. Here’s a man with a passion for linguistics and tech going right back to his UPenn college days and an internship with Professor William Labov. And, he has some serious startup chops already to his name.

Jack’s thoughts on the need for simplicity, extensibility, the need to meet the needs of users and, above all, the potential offered by the power of the cloud resonated strongly with my views too. The cloud’s the platform of choice now. For everything.

Developers, in particular, don’t want to be overburdened with complex workflows or have to write new tools to deal with their product’s localization needs. And, they know the cloud. I was knocked out to hear that Smartling had recently engaged with hundreds of developers on their own level at their #linguahack hackathon in Ukraine too.

Jack also gave me a quick demo of Smartling itself, a cloud platform translation solution aimed as much at individual pockets of developers as at meeting enterprise-scale needs. I’ll explore the solution myself in more detail shortly, so stay tuned.

The Websummit has been described as “Davos for Geeks”. I think it offers a lot more than that. Primarily, I think its value is one of networking on a grand scale, though with such a huge multinational attendance and such a broad range of startup and innovative activity present it would seem like an ideal place to watch out for potential customers of localization solutions too.

In the past, I’ve written about when and how startups need to go global. Walking around the Websummit’s many venues it’s clear that many alpha and beta offerings are not ready for that step yet.

So, perhaps there is a clear role for the localization industry to learn the language of the startup and developer crew and engage and help them pick what is the right moment to pull the trigger on the g-word. Overselling or scaring off this community by not talking the right  language is essential.

Thoughts welcome. Watch out for more insights about Smartling soon.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Take that #TWBPledge for @TranslatorsWB Just Like @RenatoBeninatto

Language in Business, Language Industry News and Events

Here’s an opportunity for you to support a great cause through some healthy best practices. Why not follow Moravia‘s Renato Beninatto‘s (@renatobeninatto) example and pledge financial support to Translators Without Borders (@TranslatorsWB) using your next fitness workout? Here’s Renato in his new cycling gear, sponsored by Global textware, to tell you more about the Donate a Workout campaign.

Renato tells us about the fine work Translators Without Borders does and how you can support it.

Renato tells us about the fine work Translators Without Borders does around the world and how you can support this great cause and stay heathy too!

Track your pledge using the Twitter hashtag .

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+ posts

Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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