Community Software Localization — It Takes a Village

As with any business challenge, experience matters, and it’s no different for app and website localization. Many thousands of translators have come before you, and they’ve accumulated a vast amount of nuts-and- bolts experience perfecting their translation strings. But how can you tap into that collective experience and incorporate it into your own translation project?

Today’s advanced translation platforms utilize what’s known as Translation Memory a collaborative framework for sharing and leveraging translation strings in one language aligned with translations in other languages. As a shared resource, translators can use translations already produced by earlier projects or other project owners. In other words, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time you translate, either for a new project or for a new language.

Translation memory stores completed translations and makes them available for everyone in that user community to access. In every language, there are countless common translations used on web and app pages for navigation, instructions and other phrases. Why pay to have these translated one-off when they’ve already been completed? Using this collective knowledge contributes to faster time to market, lower costs and higher quality of translations.

Here’s how translation memory streamlines the localization process:

It’s Great for New Users

Think about a first-time localization team trying to get up to speed on strategies and best practices. They get great translation coverage (i.e. packets of already-completed translations) right out of the gate. This gives them an immediate boost to their project and helps them focus on the more challenging translation strings.

Use Translation Quality Rankings

Sometimes there are many options available. In cases where users have provided different translations for the same string, translation quality rankings are calculated to help translators decide which ones fit each scenario. Just look up the highest ranking for the context of your translation string and you’re in business.

Unify Across Platforms

Translation memory brings together a full repository of translation strings across development platforms, applications and projects. Taking it a step further, when you incorporate a common syntax like Translation Markup Language into your plan, you increase the scope of translation memory by simplifying string representations, giving a higher percentage that can be shared in the unified memory.

Simplify Translations for Different Parts of Speech

In cases where words have several meanings, such as being used in different parts of speech like noun vs. verb, the translation memory allows you to enter source strings with multiple entries. Simply tag the different translation IDs in the description field as you go.

Choose Translators Based on Reputation

Translator quality ratings are useful in helping developers perform quality control. Rankings are calculated as a function of each translator’s professional status and an ongoing assessment of the quality of the work they contribute to translation memory. Rankings move over time based on the up-votes and down-votes of other translators. This interactive translation ranking is especially useful in crowdsourcing projects, but it is valuable in any translation project to help users choose a translation when more than one is available.

It takes a village to do localization right, and Translation Memory helps leverage much of the grunt work that’s already been completed. It’s something you don’t want to miss.