A good reason for a new technology solution
I know what you’re thinking: “Why, for heaven’s sake, did they start yet another localization technology company? What on earth are they thinking? What can they offer me that the other localization tools don’t already?”
To be honest, we had the same thoughts in early 2005, when we decided to start up Localization Consultancy & Technologies. But the gap between client requirements and the solutions available in the market became so painstakingly clear in my previous role on the client side, I felt compelled to act.
In that client-side role, I had to deal with the gaps one way or another, as our company’s product had to ship in many different languages. The typical tools all seemed to focus on very specific segments of the various localization tasks—but even in those areas, we recognized that essential functionality was missing. At times, it seemed that tool providers were interested more in a slick GUI than providing solid support for the basics.
This might sound harsh, but on the client side, you want tools that can deal with your problems. A nice graphical interface might sound good, but if you can’t deal with specific issues in your localization process, a nice GUI isn’t very relevant.
And by capturing these shortcomings, we generated a list of functions in which we prioritized them as “must haves” in a localization tool. In this way, our first technical document was born.
Our next step was to verify our technology plan with leading localization service providers (LSPs) and corporations around the world. We wanted to verify whether or not we really had an opportunity.
These meetings resulted in extensive brainstorming sessions, where we accumulated much feedback about shortcomings in existing tools. Of course, we also received suggestions for new features. Indeed, we seemed to have triggered a hot issue, as we always left these organizations with really excited Technical Directors, Localization Managers, and even CTOs. We frequently heard, “Keep us in the loop on your development, and let us know when you have a beta version available.”
Overwhelmingly, this was the kind of feedback we heard. It was a very strong motivator to continue our quest for a better localization solution.
Also from these discussions, it became crystal clear there has been a lack of true innovation in localization tools over the past several years. Corporations and LSPs still have many needs and requirements to be fulfilled by a good tool solution.
So we decided to go ahead with our technology company, with the intention to design a new localization tool from scratch, incorporating over nine years of hands-on experience and client feedback into software that will make a real difference for LSPs, clients, and even freelancers.
Based on our background, we knew that we had to base the product design on the latest available technologies in order to keep up with the changing environment, but also enable a rapid development cycle at the same time.
And now, fourteen months later, and after introducing “Clear-CAT” at Localization World in Barcelona (remember the Cat?), it’s a good time to evaluate the results.
WHAT DID WE IMPLEMENT?
One of our first design requirements originated from the need to enable multiple users to work simultaneously on the same localization project. Thus, we decided it had to be a server-based architecture, which would enable multiple clients to work on the same localization task, reducing workload.
Think about the time advantages if you can split the engineering phase among a few engineers when you need to resize a large binary file with lots of dialogs. Think about the savings when you would like to process an update on a project that you just started with your translators.
Another strong item on the list was reducing manual work by reducing file manipulations. The advantage of this becomes more obvious when you are stuck processing hundreds of files in a localization project, one file at the time. As soon as you realize that the file sets are multiplied by the number of languages, you understand the need to reduce as much manual work as possible.
Plus, this automation can stop file misplacements completely. File misplacements typically happen when the number of files is growing, and a lot of manual work is needed to store the translated files into their appropriate language folders.
Thus, it became very important to handle not only single files, but also complex and nested directory structures.
Another requirement was the ability to change the character encoding between source and target languages. Our filter structure has been designed to deal with this automatically.
Another point that came up repeatedly in the discussions with industry insiders was post-translation file storage. Inefficient storage can easily become a project management nightmare when you are facing an update on a specific localization project and have to dig up the previous translations that you might have done a couple of months before.
Browsing through archives to find specific files in the proper language can be tedious and time consuming. Thus, we decided to tackle that aspect and implement a very clear and easily understandable explorer-like structure, which we call the “Material Explorer.”
Another huge advantage of the Material Explorer is that it enables in-context leveraging and easy access to previous projects, due to the visualization aspect of the storage structure.
And why would you still need to use separate products for documentation and software localization when, with the current technology, this can be combined into one solution? The advantages gained by combining both localization streams are numerous; to highlight a few, such a model enables in-context cross leveraging from software to documentation and vice versa. Plus, it avoids the so-called “out of context translations,” which typically occur when your software is translated before your documentation.
And finally, by adding an internal translation memory system, one based on an industry standard, we provided the possibility to add context related to the project, the translator, and the translator’s organization, while it also functions as a large repository for cost management purposes.
In short, a single-stream localization process has a lot of advantages over a multi-stream process. It not only eliminates the need for splitting the documentation files from the software files, it also improves the workflow within the organization. Plus, by removing the need to process the work through different tools, the project management effort is reduced, allowing more project control through metrics. Project managers can see the status of the complete project (Software, Documentation, Online help, etc,) in one overview.
SO WHY DID WE DO IT?
Ask yourself, instead, why would you use different packages for different localization streams, when there is a way to combine it all?
At Localization Consultancy & Technologies, we don’t use buzzwords for something we see as default behavior. Instead, we focus on the true pain points in this business by offering a localization solution that better supports the business basics. By using our experience as a guideline and by valuing client feedback, we can say,
“With Clear-CAT you can see the difference!”
For more information about our Clear-CAT offering, or if you would like to evaluate the product, please send us an e-mail at: email@example.com
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