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SDL Tados 2021

Minimum Viable Product: Globalization

Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Yes, been waiting to get a Silicon Valley-style allusion to MVP (Minimum Viable Product) into a blog post for ages. And now, thanks to Java and Android guru and i18n veteran John O’Conner (@joconner), here it is:

The Absolute Minimum You Need to Know About Internationalization

A simple, straightforward and understandable list of the key things that developers, designers and product folks need to know to make a product ready for successful global launch. What a contrast to those hectoring tl;dr i18n tomes we’ve had to deal with at times (and we wonder why nobody heeds the advice?)

We’ve come a long way since this example of major #i18nfail I encountered in 1996 (a real case with content changed to protect the starry-eyed innocents of the day):

I18n challenge 1996-style. A real-world example.

I18n challenge 1996-style. A real-world example. Example from the AGIS 2009 Conference Internationalization and Translatability for Beginners workshop.

But not far enough.

Let’s see more posts like John’s to remind us about what’s important and to make it less scary for emerging technologies and startups to understand and integrate internationalization requirements into their processes.

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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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How to Use the HTML5 Translate Attribute: A Translatability Best Practice

Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

HTML5 introduces a translate attribute that allows fine-grained control over what content should be translated, or not. Richard Ishida of the W3C has all the details of the attribute and its applicability, as well as some interesting insights into how Bing Translator and Google Translate deal with the translatability of content issue.

Here’s an example of the translate attribute’s use, taken from Richard’s blog (the HTML5 spec’s global attributes section has another other nice example, see the Bee Game.):

<p>Click the Resume button on the Status Display or the
<span translate="no">CONTINUE</span> button
on the printer panel.</p>

See how the word CONTINUE is made non-translatable using the translate attribute’s value set to “no”? Blimey! However, there are times when CONTINUE might need to be translated. So, flip that puppy to “yes”.

This HTML5 attribute is a very welcome addition to the content creation and translation tools world, sure.  But, it is very welcome for other reasons too.

This is a time of new interactions and emerging platforms that challenge the established desktop and website norms of what should be translated or not. Mobile, augmented reality, gamification, and other trends, all challenge established norms of content rules. So too, is it a time when companies redefine themselves, cross over, and promote their own design guidance as a differentiator in the market. Oracle, for example, likes to say “Software, Hardware. Complete” so content needs to cross-reference many deliverables. SAP, as another example, recently launched an app in the consumer space (available in German and English) that may require a different style of content and translation from the enterprise applications space. Android has released user experience (UX)  guidance of its own, and so on.

I previously raised such translatability issues in my Don’t Translate: Won’t Translate blog post.  I chipped into the [Bug 12417] discussion about the attribute’s development, too.

Using content to convey a translation instruction, by making a piece of text all uppercase for example, is not a best practice. It is a UX failure, makes personalization and customization difficult, and assumes the consumer of the content is a second-class stakeholder. Frankly, it is also very dangerous. Can you imagine if software developers used text that way in their code, rather than relying on the program logic?

As for the time-honored method of writing a translation note, or description, telling a translator that some content should not be translated, or should be, well such approaches just ain’t reliable or scalable, are they?

Now, there is a clear best practice to follow (and adapt for other formats). The HTML5 translate attribute educates content developers that the best practice for indicating whether content should be translated or not is through the use of markup (or metadata), and not through how the content is written. Translation tools should update to the HTML5 spec requirements and process this attribute asap.

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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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Who is the Language Industry's Chocolate Apple? Comics, Technology, and Culture

Localization Culture

I’ve previously written about the uptake of the comic form in technical communications and some of the translation and cultural challenges.

As part of Oracle’s research into the use of comics as a way of educating technical writers about DITA, I was astounded by the wide range of subjects covered by Japanese manga (漫画). Now, we have Sweet Android Highschool added to that list, chronicling the exploits of the main Android vendors, each in the form of a character: Moto-Laura-chan (Motorola), Sam-Sung-chan (Samsung), H-T-Syee-chan (HTC), Elle-G-chan (LG), Soni-Eri-chan (Sony Ericsson).

Sweet Android Highschool, image credit: weekly.asci.jp

Apple is also in the cast (Apple-kun), naturally.

Sadly, we don’t hear much about comics translation and cultural issues through the usual channels in our industry. Certainly, comics is a serious business–not just for laughs or for kids–and an engaging and interesting conference topic. From interpreting the life of Steve Jobs in manga form to translating TinTin to communicating life saving information in developing countries with low literacy rates there’s plenty of scope for discussion.

Definitely, conducting some user experience research into the use of comics in Europe (France or Belgium perhaps?) and Japan, or other countries in Asia, is something I would be interested in doing.

If you have suggestions for research into the translation and cultural aspects of comics–or any other observations–add ’em using the comments.

Anyone for a manga chronicle of Language Services Provider shenanigans? Who is the industry’s “Chocolate Apple“?

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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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Google Translate on Android: Mobile Translation Comes of Age

Language in the News, Translation Technology

Really taken by this little tidbit from the Android folks, released as part of the 10th billionth Android app download celebration, giving us insight into how those apps are used:

100 million words are translated every week in 200 different countries on Google Translate.

You cannot but be impressed. Again, the mobile platform is leading change. And of the top 10 download countries, the US is number four. The rest are in Asia and EMEA.

Google Translate conversation mode on Android. Czech shown. Author's own.

I wonder how much Google Translate is used in those countries and how often English is the target language rather than the source?

Worth considering for your mobile app development and localization plans.

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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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Mobile Apps Localization, Irish Style, Apple Style

Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events

I always enjoy Lucy Kellaway’s articles in the Financial Times. She’s a smart writer, with a quick, sharp sense of irreverent humor combined with common sense,  making the coverage of the world of business eminently readable.  Her recent “Words to describe the glory of Apple” (podcast version for the registration-averse reader) addressed the issue of language in business, focusing on the style used by Apple in its App Store Review Guidelines (PDF version), aimed at developers of mobile applications.

These guidelines are insightful in themselves (as indeed are Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for the iPhone) for what they say about language quality. They place the emphasis on usability rather than professional linguistic quality, adherence to official terminology glossaries, style guidelines, and the rest. Language quality in its own right is not a  criterion for app acceptance. The market – the user – ultimately decides.  As far as I know, localized Apple apps are subject to an in-country review instead of a US one, but it doesn’t seem that professional linguistic acceptance checks for style and terminology come into play for those versions either.

This is important for the vast majority of mobile application developers, be they for Apple, Android or other platforms. Contrary to what you might hear, you simply do not need to engage with professional linguists and expensive, complicated, slow translation processes that center around complicated language quality assistance to get your localized app to market. What app developers do need is the means to quickly and easily connect with translators who are talented, motivated,  interested, mobile app savvy and who can use tools to turn around an effective translation that can get that app to the market place or app store as quickly as possible for international users.

Mobile app developers can look to the Irish technology company Tethras (offices in Dublin, Ireland and Silicon Valley) for such a service. This is a smart, cloud-based solution for global mobile app developers to get their development efforts to the international market easily. Sparkle Apps have already used Tethras for translating their Jigsaw Box iPad app and report that doing so clearly showed a spike in global sales, confirming other findings.

Remember that most app development isn’t a large-scale effort, undertaken by large teams in huge enterprises, but instead by interested, motivated entrepreneurs working remotely, often working alone. They have no clue about the difference between “localization”, “translation”, “transcreation” or the rest of the traditional GILT industry mechanics. And why should they? Who needs a language service provider to charge you for the creation of localized terms for “fart” anyway?

Watch out for more about Tethras and Irish mobile apps localization in a forthcoming article in Multilingual.

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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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Taking Mobile Android Applications to Market: The Challenges

Language in Business

Really enjoyed this blog article by Andreas Constantinou Mobile Developer Economics: Taking Applications to Market. Excellent material, especially for Android apps development fans.

Look at the fourth challenge: Localization

“The lack of localised apps for non-English markets is exacerbated for Android. A search on AndroLib reveals that out of the approximately 60,000 apps on Android Market, there are only about 1,400 apps localised in Spanish and only 1,800 localised in French, as of early June 2010.”

Clearly tremendous opportunities all round. Of course, we’ve heard about challenges to mobile apps developers (Irish ones) somewhere before too…

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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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