It's distasteful to talk platitudes about the "Tower of Babel", but such banalities are resilient because they contain the crux of the matter. Languages have divided people, and over time, in order to trade with each other, the Babylonian exiles demanded translation.
Translation has existed and been needed since the dawn of man- both in the periphery of cultural contact, and in the centers of cultural and commercial exchange. However, the development of transport and communication has led to an explosive growth of trade via globalization. Transnational corporations emerged, which wanted to sell their products everywhere, in all countries. Or rather, due to globalization all large companies have become transnational. And those who sold programs required them to be translated. The need for translation increased many times, as did the complexity and demands of translation.
Program translation is much more difficult than "simple translation", so much so that it needed its own designation - "software localization". Truthfully, it's not that great a term, so let’s take a closer look at it.
Some lyricism first. Do you remember how it all began?
The demand for large quantities of software translation from English to other languages emerged spontaneously in the wake of the explosive globalization of the 1990s, and transnational corporations, who had the need to sell in other countries, were not properly prepared for this. They were not ready to such an extent, that veterans still remember stories from the era of localization inception, when the typical response to a request for files was "oh, you need files for translation?".
That is, if one managed to get an answer at all, since the developers of these companies were treated like 'sacred cows', because they were hard at work on the next version or product, which would for sure bring in the millions.
The very idea that programs needed to be translated to be sold in other countries was an unusual one. The assumption was "that all educated people know English!". Nobody at that time had any localization departments or personnel who would be working on the translation/localization aspects client-side. The maximum they'd have is a programmer who could do a conversion of the coding tables.
This was the situation at the time, when in 1991 the company "Dialogue-MIFI" decided to take upon themselves the distribution of licensed software from Symantec.
The sale of a software license for money – was, in and of itself, revolutionary in a country where piracy was running rampant. However, we decided to start selling Time Line, a management system. The program was rare, and it wasn't that easy to attain it (back then there were no torrents, nor the internet itself).
In the training center of Dialogue-MIFI we have long taught AutoCad. Of course, we did this with the Russian version, because the representatives of the industrial enterprises going through the training, were in no way proficient in English at that point in time.
Because of this we required quite some time to figure out that for Time Line to sell, it must be translated into Russian.
And here we ran into the further realization that Symantec was in no position to provide us with any logistical support. The key word here being "any". This was because they were wildly busy, and Russia – was a small market.
It was then that we translated the entire program without any source code, together with the GUI, upon which we threw our Russian texts.
The job was performed perfectly in three months. After those initial three months we commenced distribution. We printed the documentation, acquired the boxes, found carriers, and began to sell our perfectly functional, translated Time Line for rubles.
In half a year, we sold two thousand copies.
This was more than Symantec had sold across the entirety of Eastern Europe combined.
The success was overwhelming. It was so stunning that the General Director of Symantec, who at the time was Gordon Eubanks, flew into Moscow. And of course! Such sales really broke the mold.
And so, we came to the empirical constant: software sells a thousand times better when it is translated.
Understandably, this impressive truth has already captured the imagination of many business people, and transnational corporations have fully realized the specific importance of localizing software into other languages. And this "constant"- "translated products sell a thousand times better" - was repeated again, and again, and again...
It was at this time that Microsoft was entering the market of the former USSR. Microsoft already had a number of programs that needed to be translated to Russian. In Dialogue's headquarters, Peter Kvitek had already previously translated into Russian MS-DOS, but now the full Office lineup needed to be translated, and that required literate resources.
And so, it coincided that during these early days Gunnie Jacobsson, who at that time was the head of the new localization department of Microsoft in Dub, came to Moscow.
My friend Dima Moskalev arranged for me to meet with her. The meeting lasted 30 minutes - I had decent English experience with Symantec, and I talked about our experience of localizing Time Line - and obviously, our team had all the required qualities, therefore, I left the meeting already having a contract with Microsoft "in my pocket".
Then the world era of localization began, which turned into a global industry. Many people say that the industry of localization was created by Microsoft. But this is an exaggeration, because the same difficulties were faced by all software producers - Borland, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Computer Associates, and later Russian companies.
So, what’s so difficult here?
Back to the localization of the software - is it really such a large task to translate software?
The answer is yes, as in this case it is necessary to solve many auxiliary technical problems.
When translating a book or article, the translator works with the entirety of the text. There's nothing but text; and all the translated text is in front of them.
A program, however, displays text that is stored somewhere in its depths, and this text "crawls" into various elements of the interface - menus, dialogue boxes, messages, fragments of text on the screen, files created by the program, and so forth.
Therefore, the task of translating any program - including websites, which are also the result of a program - is to identify the so-called "resources," i.e. places of the program in which the text displayed on the screen is stored, and determine its correct translation.
Depending on the type of resource, different restrictions are placed on the text, such as restrictions by length, so that there isn’t any overlap, and the menu doesn’t have two identical hotkeys, according to the format of the string, substitutions, and other issues may arise.
Here is just a short list of the additional factors that have to be considered when translating software:
- restrictions on text length
- preservation (and correct modification) of metadata, code, control characters and variables that are not always separate from the translated text
- ensuring the accuracy of multi-level substitutions of text fragments in the form of variables
- resizing (and in the most severe of cases, a complete alteration of appearance) of dialogue boxes
- adaptation of all types of content (numbers, table formats, special signs, terms)
- graphical changes
- consideration of technical traditions and standards of the target country
- accounting for both industry and client requirements
These are only the technical tasks related to software translation, but not all of them - after the software is assembled, it must be tested, errors written down and then corrected, and this must be performed several times to ensure there are no mistakes.
In addition to localizing the software, the documentation also needs to be translated, and this needs to be conducted after all the main elements of the interface have been translated so that you don’t have to rewrite it later.
Of course, when translating both the program and the documentation, it is necessary to solve the linguistic problems of uniformity, adequacy, quality of the language, application to the target audience, and the absence of errors. After translation of the documentation it is necessary to collect it for printing (imposing), with the reference also needing to be collected.
An installer also needs to be implemented.
All this must be conducted within a set frame of time, so as to optimally allocate resources - such an abundance of diverse tasks cannot be performed without proper project management, e.g. in addition to the actual engineering and programming jobs, there is also the task of competent project management.
As if this wasn’t enough
During the first years of the "boom of the 90s" the process looked exactly as described above.
Later, some companies began to try to make several languages simultaneously.
There arose a division between the engineering and linguistic tasks of localization; engineering tasks meanwhile were increasingly performed on the side of the manufacturer; however, it became increasingly necessary to harmonize these processes, in order for the multilingual translation and engineering tasks to be synchronized and coordinated. And thus, a new level of complexity arose.
Along the way, the technical means of translation began to improve and become more complicated – Word used to be fine for all occasions, then Trados appeared, then Wordfast, then MemoQ, and then numerous cloud-based translation tools.
The number of formats has increased to the point where a single, universal format XLIFF emerged; admittedly, not all of its implementations are compatible, but this was a huge step forward.
At the same time, the Internet appeared, and from being simply a communication medium it turned into an information environment, without which no modern technological process can be imagined.
Glossaries, data repositories, remote work, a distributed production process have been made available, in which, apart from the customer, production is provided by supplier companies and individual freelancers, independently or contracted by suppliers.
Entire ecosystems of suppliers for large companies have been created and developed, with their own software and processes, setting their own requirements and wishing to work with a certain pool of suppliers.
It’s worth mentioning websites separately. A website is the same as a program, or more precisely the result of the interaction of two programs: one of them is a web server that forms web pages, and the other is a browser that displays them for viewing and working with them by a person.
Of course, the localization of websites has its own, additional specifics. For example, one such as SEO – or the optimization of the indexing of a site by search engines or using special formats and metadata. One of the additional difficulties of localizing websites is the use of an incredible amount of so-called CMS (content management systems) - there are more than two thousand (!) in the world and each of them has its own limitations on working with content.
Successfully working with all this allows for experience, technical skills, and the ability to solve unusual problems.
Over the years, the Logrus Global team has translated a huge number of different products from leading software manufacturers – such as Microsoft, Borland, IBM, Oracle, SAP, later for 1C and Kaspersky Lab, along with countless games. However, games will be mentioned separately…
The list of products translated by us would take several pages, but there are a few especially favored projects. For example, when we finished translating Windows 95, we received, perhaps, the most pleasant review, containing the following phrase: "At last there is a product translated to Russian, which is pleasant to deal with."
It is on these projects that we laid the foundation and established the standard level of quality of translation software for the entire industry for many years to come.
Later we had to solve the problem of multilingual translation at the same level of quality; it can be realized only if there are processes, knowledge, experience, which was acquired on many projects prior.
Now Russian companies are striving to become transnational. After all, for advanced enterprises the development potential in the home market is limited, while the global market is nearly inexhaustible.
Today, Russian multinational corporations have the advantage that they can use the services of Logrus Global to enter the world market – a company that has accumulated advanced foreign experience and knowledge in the field of multilingual localization.
Our services have been successfully used by many leading Russian companies – Yandex, Kaspersky Lab, 1C, Evernote, Zeptolab, and many others.
The current landscape
Today the setting is more diverse than ever: there are those who still need complete localization of software from scratch, "turnkey", and those who have already built and "granulated" the process to the point that translators are given only text files and instructions, with all technical and related work performed by the customer.
Between these variants there are a huge variety of options.
Any one of them we are ready to shoulder - we are equipped to complete the entire project, as well as to solve various specific problems.
For Russian companies, we expand their potential to infinity – in the worldwide, global market.
Why choose Logrus Global
- Long-term and extremely diverse experience with the localization of software products, operating systems, enterprise management systems (ERP) and business applications.
- A large pool of qualified translators, editors, testers, linguist-proofreaders (including native speakers).
- High-quality project management, with work conducted on time and within budget.
- The highest level of communication and service.
- Rich experience with applicable work and terminology.
- Technically competent team and engineering support.
- The presence of a wide range of engineering utilities and in-house development allows for significantly speed up execution of routine work, while at the same time minimizing the negative impact of the human factor.
- Experience with a wide range of systems (both with the most common as well as those developed by our clients, for example, SAP Online); with this in mind, the client’s own systems are, as a rule, very different from those commonly used in the market in regards to most parameters – the organization of the translation process, data formats, methods of processing, etc.
- A dearth of expert experience in translation quality evaluation.
- Extensive knowledge and expertise of software testing for different and rare languages.
Various project examples
- SAP R/3, SAP ERP HCM, Next Campaign, SAP Business ByDesign, SAP NetWeaver, SAP ME, SAP ERP EhP, SAP CRM, SAP SCM, SAP Strategy Management, SAP BI Content, SAP FS-PP, SAP Demand Management, SAP BPC, SAP BusinessObjects
- Oracle Applications 10.7
- Oracle CRM 3.1.2 / 3.i
- Oracle OFO 3.0 HTML / 3.0 SW
- Oracle Applications 10.7
- Oracle Applications 11.5.1 iHelp - Russian - RU / 11.5.1 Post release testing / 11.5.2 iHelp PostProcessing / 11.5.2 / 11.5.4 iHelp project /Q202 ARU / Q302 ARU / Q402 ARU / R11 HTML Help, software dumps, Software v.1 / R11.0.1 Help, Software / R11.0.2 software, part 1 / R11.0.3 Software - All languages / R11.5.1 SW - RU / R11.5.2 SW - RU /R11i Help - RU HTML, Software
- MS Windows Vista (Russian), Vista LIP (Albanian, American, Bosnian, Galician and more – 47 languages total), MS Windows 98 SE / 95 / Millennium /NT 4.0 / XP / 2003 Server Software, User Assistance & Documentation
- Sun Solaris 7 / 6
- Novell NetWare 5
- MS Office 2007/2003 (Russian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian) / 2000 / 97 / 95 / XP
- MS Office 12 Software, User Assistance & Documentation (localization into 7 languages, engineering into 7 languages, test / 11 Smart Tag Templates for 32 languages (authoring, engineering & testing)
- Borland Paradox for DOS 4.0
- Borland Paradox 1.0 / 4.5 / 5.0 for Windows
- Lotus Notes 4.01 / 4.5 / 4.52 / 4.6 /5.01 Russian, Building & Testing
- Lotus Notes 5.02 / 5.03 / 5.04 / 5.05 /5.06 / 5.07 / 5.08 / 5.09 /5.10 Russian, Polish & Slovenian Quarterly Maintenance Release / 6.0 / 6.01