ICanLocalize newsletter archive
ICanLocalize newsletter provides tips for running a multilingual business easier.
Issue 18, Nov/25/2009
The next major feature we're going to add to our system is a translation glossary.
This will allow translating large projects in a consistent way without having to manually switch back and forth between programs.
- Integrated into all our tools (Translation Assistant, text resources, Instant Translations).
- Can be imported from external glossaries.
- Translators and clients can edit it.
- Global, per client. All jobs done for that client will share the glossary.
Your help is needed to define the glossary functionality
It's all very preliminary right now and this is the time to voice your opinion.
I've written a short blog post about it.
If you have a few minutes to spare, go to that post and leave a comment. Tell us how you'd like it to work and what you think it should include.
Issue 16, Aug/26/2009
We're ready with a new version of Translation Assistant which was in the making for the last couple of months.
This version addresses issues that many translators noticed (and reported to us) in the editor part.
The most important issues are:
- Faster editing.
- More accurate marker editing (we'll talk about that in a minute).
- Full support for right-to-left languages.
The formatting markers got a serious overhaul. Now, they're much easier to apply and use. When you drag a marker, you'll see the text over it highlighted (so that you know exactly what's included in the marker). Each marker lists what is the original text for it, so it's very easy to apply multiple markers to a sentence.
And finally, if two markers collide, they're highlighted helping to spot the problem immediately and fix it.
It's a major change. We've tested it thoroughly, including on several live projects and it looks good. Before releasing a new version, which is updated for everyone, we're asking if you want to try it and give us your feedback.
If you need any changes, now is the time. After we release a new version, making changes will take much longer.
Here is the download link for this beta version:
To give it a try, download this version and install it over your current version of Translation Assistant. Before you install, make sure that TA is not running (including in the taskbar). If TA icon is in the taskbar (next to the clock), right click on it and select 'Shutdown Translation Assistant'.
We're looking forward to your feedback!
Issue 13, Jul/08/2009
The upcoming release of Translation Assistant will include support for translating Help and Manual projects (http://www.ec-software.com/).
If you don't know what this is, H&M is a program that helps write Windows Help files. It's like a special word processor which can create full help files. We're using it too for our own documentation.
Localizing H&M projects was never an easy task. Even we face those difficulties when we try to produce multilingual versions of our own help files. To make this much easier, our Translation Assistant will soon support H&M projects.
How H&M projects will be translated
- Open Translation Assistant and create a new H&M translation project.
- Point Translation Assistant to the directory where the H&M project is saved.
- It will scan it and load all the files in your help project.
- You'll get the total word count and be able to upload to our server for translators to bid and then work on.
- When the translation is complete, you'll get the translated help projects, in H&M format.
Just like website translation, when your help file changes, Translation Assistant will detect the changes and update the translation. You'll only be charged for new or modified texts in the help file.
We're Beta testing this right now. We've already done several live projects and are now adding more features to support the full features of Help and Manual. We expect to be ready with a final version by the end of July.
If you need translation for your help files, let us know. We'll be happy to go over your H&M project and make sure that it gets translated correctly.
Issue 10, Jun/08/2009
Many websites get much of their traffic from search engines, so optimizing for search engines is a crucial task. While there's a lot of material about how to do SEO, it's a bit less clear how to approach when translation is involved.
Start by optimizing your original language contents
Keep in mind that translation is just translation. You're not having your entire website rewritten, but just converted to a different language. It's going to be nearly impossible to translate and then perform SEO.
If you're translating from English, your English copy needs to be search engine friendly before translating it to any other language. This means that all your keywords will appear in both the original and in the translations.
Ask the translator to suggest translations for important keywords
When translating, it's possible to write the same thing in different ways. Although many translations are clear and accurate, some will be more helpful for search result positioning.
For example, if we translated website design from English to Spanish. We could easily write it as:
- Diseño web
- Diseño sitio web
- Diseño página web
All these would be fine translation. Since these Spanish translations would go to title and heading tags, it's pretty crucial to select the text that Spanish visitors look for. So, how do you choose?
Handle this just like you're doing keyword research for the first time and use the same techniques. Some of the tools you can use:
- Google Trends: http://google.com/trends
- Google AdWords keyword tool (requires an AdWords account)
- Other great paid tools like Compete - http://www.compete.com
The following image was taken from Google Trends, comparing between sitio web and página web. You can try it yourself using this link - http://google.com/trends?q=sitio+web%2C+p%E1gina+web
The results show that página web used to be popular and that sitio web succeeded in recent years.
Distinguish between name and description
It's a very good idea to have descriptive product names which include relevant search terms. If you're doing an inventory management software, a name like Inventory Manager would be great for SEO purposes. When you translate it, you don't want to translate the product name itself, but you do need to have translated keywords.
What you can do is keep both the translation and the original English name. For example, the Spanish title of the inventory management product could be: Inventory Manager - software para gestión de inventario
It means, Inventory Manager - software for inventory management. This doesn't come out well in English, because the product description just repeats the name, but it's just fine in Spanish, where the product name is the English name and the description is in Spanish.
Now it's clear. Google would be happy to find the Spanish description in the title, but your product's name is not lost.
In the next part of this series, we'll talk about how to send your website's texts to initial translation and how to keep translations up-to-date.
We'll talk about some of the advantages (and shortcomings) of using a content management system, in the context of running a multilingual website.
Issue 9, Jun/01/2009
Localizing your websites is one of the best marketing investments you can make. It's a complex task and coming prepared can save both time and money.
In this series of tutorials, we'll cover:
- How to make the website translation-ready
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- First time translation and updates
- Where to place translations (same domain, sub-domains, different domains)
- Communicating with visitors in their languages
Let's get started with getting your website ready for translation. If you're thinking about translating your own website, this is the place to start!
Common mistakes that make websites difficult to translate
1. Using images to store texts
This is the most frequent problem that's seen when translating websites. When you put large amounts of text inside an image, you make it extra difficult to translate. What happens when text in images needs to be translated:
- The translator cannot edit the image itself (just give you back the translated text).
- Translation tends to take up different space and doesn't fit the image dimensions.
- Maintenance becomes a head-ache.
The solution is trivial - don't place texts in images. Even if it's very tempting, avoid it.
2. Setting fixed sizes to blocks
Some times, designers set fixed sizes to DIVs and tables. For example, if you see something like this:
<td width="100" height="100">
It means that the table cell will be 100x100 pixels. When the site was designed, it probably made something look nice, but what's going to happen when it's translated.
When English text gets translated to Japanese, it shrinks to about 70% of its original size. When it's translated to German, it can grow to as much as %200. In both cases, forcing the translation into a fixed-sized cell is not going to look very good.
Again, a trivial solution - don't apply fixed sizes. Use layout that can easy adjust to the actual text size, both vertically and horizontally.
3. Using regional character encoding
Do you know what is the difference between Latin1 (iso-8859-1) and UTF-8?
Latin1 uses 8 bits for characters, hence allowing up to 256 unique characters (at most). UTF-8 is a character encoding which assigns a variable number of bits at characters, allowing over 2 million different characters.
If your website still uses the ancient Latin1 character encoding, now would be a great time to change it. To do this:
- Open each page in a text editor.
- Save as Unicode (UTF-8).
- Change the character encoding declaration in the header to "charset=utf-8".
Otherwise, it will be very difficult to translate it. Translation might be possible to another European language, but anything besides that will just not work.
In the next article, we'll talk about how to prepare to build search engine optimized translation. If your site is already optimized for search engines in your own language, you'll be starting from a much better point, so it's worth putting some effort into this now, before you translate.
Issue 8, May/27/2009
When you translate a program, website or just a text document, you need to remember that just translating the text from one language to the other may not be enough.
In this article, we'll cover things that need to be adapted to different languages and even countries.
- Currencies (and amounts)
- Number format
- Phone numbers and addresses
- Time zones
If your English brochure (for US clients) says "$19.95", what can this mean for people outside of the US?
Do you mean US Dollars, maybe Canadian Dollars or even Argentinian Pesos? Tough to tell...
The solution specify the currency using its name.
The cost would be crystal clear, to anyone in the world if you write "$19.95 USD". Then, when translators work on your brochure, they'll also know what it means and be able to translate it properly.
Although the USD and Euro zones include many people, there are still many other currencies in the world. Have a look here for a full reference - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_circulating_currencies.
In English, you would write number like 1,324.98. However, in German, it would be 1.324,98 - can you notice the difference? To make you text appear as native German, you should change number formatting. If it's plain text, your translator would take care of that, but if a program is generating these numbers, the number format needs to be adapted.
Many programs and websites display dates. Blogs, for example, normally display the publish date for posts. May sites also display the current time.
Date format changes between languages. Not only the names of months and days but also their order. In the US, people normally use Month/Day/Year. In Europe, it's Day/Month/Year.
To handle this correctly, programs normally implement a special function for displaying dates. This function would take into account the locale and display the date as it should.
Some date formatting examples
- US: %Y-%m-%d
- Europe: %d-%m-%Y
- Japan: %Y-%m-%d
%Y - year, %m - month, %d - day
For further reading, visit the ISO page - http://www.w3.org/QA/Tips/iso-date.
Supposing your doing a recipe application and you need tell tell the cook to use one pound of cream. How would a French chef feel about it? In Europe people don't use pounds, inches or feet. They use the Metric system. Your recipe should ask for half a Kilo of cream (or more precisely, 453.6 grams).
Just like dates, numbers with physical units should go through a special routine which adapts their display for the selected locale.
Wikipedia has a great page about different unit systems and where in the world they're used - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Units_of_measurement.
Phone numbers and addresses
We're not going to suggest that your phone number is different when dialed from Australia, but maybe it needs to be displayed slightly different.
When you display phone numbers inside the US, you normally start with the area code and omit the country code (+1). If you need foreign clients to call you, the country code should be included too. You can also go the extra mile and find out how they normally dial foreign numbers.
Same thing goes for the address. Make sure it ends with your country.
And, if your application needs to input and process user phone numbers and dates, make sure that you support their format. Some countries have states, some have districts (or provinces) and some don't have any.
Some programs need to do certain things at given times. For instance, if you're doing online trading, your program depends on the stock market and its local time.
When you display the time, remember to also display the time zone. It's going to be very helpful for many people if your program could switch back and forth from your time to their.
Most of the items we covered are best handled by writing specialized routines for displaying values. It's also important that the program store the all values in a way that permits conversion. For example, you can store dates as a string, or as seconds since epoch (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_time). Saving the date as an integer will greatly simplify adapting it to different locales.
Managing the visual formatting in one place has many advantages:
- Test once, works for all.
- Easy to maintain (like adding a new language).
- Flexible - can be adapted to any specialized display needs.
The obvious cost is that all this has to be taken into consideration when writing the program or building the website. Like in many other cases, taking the long road usually helps get there faster.
Issue 7, May/27/2009
Your account profile includes a resume. This is what clients see when you apply to do projects. Writing a good resume is key to getting jobs, so it's a good idea to visit it and make sure that it's top-notch.
Where's my resume?
To view or edit your resume, log in to your icanlocalize.com account, click on 'My Account' and then 'Profile'. You can edit your resume from that page.
How to write a good resume
There are many web resources about writing resumes. Clients know that all the translators listed in ICanLocalize are professional quality translators, so your resume must highlight your special skills.
Make sure that it includes:
- Where you studied and your degrees.
- Projects you did (both in ICanLocalize and other places).
- Special fields of expertise.
Styling your resume
When you edit your resume, you'll see a little link saying "Formatting instructions". Clicking on it will open a page with formatting syntax.
You can use headlines, bold text, lists and other elements which will make your resume look better and easier to scan.
Remember that when clients review translator resumes they may go over several translators in a short time. Make sure that anything you need to highlight stands out.
This is an example of how to apply headings and lists in your resume.
# Education # * 2000-2004 **University California Los Angeles** - Spanish major * 2005-2006 CAT techniques course at XTZ. # Work experience # * Translated web manuals for xyz.com ...
I hope this helps. Many translator resumes in ICanLocalize are already in pretty good share, but many can be improved a lot. Have a look at your resume and see if you can make it even better!
Issue 6, Jul/17/2012
We're finally ready with a translation system for text resource files.
Let's start with a quick example. Supposing you have a list of string, which determine your application's text. Something like this:
TITLE="Hello world" OK_but="Ok" Cancel="Cancel" ...
Until now, we've seen these files turn into Instant Text translation projects. It works, but is difficult to manage.
We've just added a new kind of project, just for that - Text Resource translation projects.
How Text Resource translation projects work
When you create such a project, our system will do all the hard work for you. You can choose the languages you want to translate to, choose your translators and upload your resource files. The system will automatically go through your file and extract the texts to translate.
You only pay for what gets translated
It will only count strings for translations (not the field names), so it's much more economical than Instant Translation projects.
Supports many different resource file types
You can upload files in several formats and character encoding types, including UTF-8, UTF-16 (Windows and iPhone Unicode) and even Java Unicode.
Picking up the translation
When translation is complete, the system will create the translated resource files, ready to be used. You'll get them in the right format and structure, just with translated strings.
One of the highlights of this new service is its ability to detect changes in your resource file. When you have a new version with new or updated strings, just upload it to the same project. We'll send just the new and modified strings to translation.
To try it, go to your www.icanlocalize.com account, click on Translation Projects and then Text Resources.
Issue 5, Mar/17/2009
Several folks have asked us to translate Help and Manual (H&M) projects. If you're not familiar with it, H&M creates Windows help files - all sorts of them. It's a great program but its translation interface leaves much to be desired.
We're working on adding H&M support to the next release of Translation Assistant. It will make translating Windows help files completely effortless and require no additional tools.
This should be ready by the end of March. If you're interested, let me know and we can get you started early.
Issue 4, May/27/2009
We're very excited to announce the release of our new Drupal translation system.
If you're not sure what Drupal is, here's some background.
Drupal (http://www.drupal.org) is a free open source content management system (CMS).
It's used extensively by small businesses, large businesses, government agencies and non profit organizations.
Drupal is a high end system which allows creating powerful and robust websites with every type of content that's out there today.
ICanLocalize Drupal translation
Our translation module makes running multilingual Drupal sites a breeze. It manages all document translation and automates the entire process.
Web masters can run their site without spending any time managing contents in other language. Translators need only to translate the site's texts without dealing with the way its built.
It's a win-win situation making both webmasters and translators very happy.
And, it's not publicly available!
If you're already running a Drupal site and want it to run in multiple languages, check out the ICanLocalize Translator module:
To use it, install and activate on your Drupal site. The entire project setup process is done from without the Drupal admin panel.
Contact us. We'll be more than happy to give you a private tour of the system and show you how it works on our demo Drupal site.
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