Preparing for Translation - Part II of Series. The Localization Kit Localization translation jobs
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Preparing for Translation - Part II of Series. The Localization Kit

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See also: Building a Localization Kit
See also: Developing a Localization Kit

I would like to expand on last month's article about how to create a translation kit and move into the technical world of creating a localization kit. A localization kit differs in that it deals with issues associated with localizing web sites, CBT systems and software.

Translation and localization kits are a huge help to us, because they consolidate all project information into one place and concisely explain your expectations for a given project. What you may take for granted is probably news to us. We work on thousands of projects for hundreds of customers each year. Each client has unique products, marketing materials and documentation and each client has unique expectations and requirements. This combination makes it not only difficult for us to make assumptions, but also risky given the right circumstances. Said another way, the more we understand about your requirements and expectations, the better able we are to meet them.

Localization projects can have many components and thousands of software, help and documentation files. A localization kit helps bring order to this madness or sheer volume, which can number in the tens of thousands of files for very large projects. When this is multiplied by several languages, the numbers get very large indeed! Below are some tips for how to create a localization kit and what items to include.

Defining Kit Requirements

It is important to determine who will use the localization kit--both internally and externally to your company--and what level of detail will be required. If members of your internal team are new to localization, you will want to include more information on “how to localize” than you would for a team of localization veterans.

The kit should also reflect the tasks to be performed by your vendor and all the files and instructions necessary for them to carry out these tasks. For example, if your vendor is responsible for building localized versions of your software, you will want to include utilities used in the build process.

The localization kit should include all source files to be localized and organized according to component and any proprietary tools that might be required. You may want to consider creating a directory structure to organize the files within the kit to avoid confusion and extra work and maintain version control. The files that should be included are:

  • All source files
  • A compiled version of the help system
  • Any existing English or foreign language glossaries
  • Any existing foreign language style guides
  • Any existing TMs (assuming you are happy with their quality)
  • All graphics containing text (requiring localization) in SOURCE format
  • Exclude non-related files.

Providing files is only the first step. Providing an explanation or set of instructions for the files is critical to our understanding your expectations and the true scope of your project. Otherwise we are truly left to making assumptions and in my experience, making assumptions is dangerous to do!

Localization Kit Instructions

So what should you tell us?

  • Tell us how the localization kit is organized
  • Tell us the use of each file or set of files in the kit.
  • Describe what the deliverable should look like in terms of file naming, directory structure, etc.
  • If it's software, describe its basic architecture.
  • Provide a list of any known internationalization issues.
  • Describe and provide explanation for using any proprietary tools.
  • List all tools and versions that are required for the localization process.
  • List platforms, browsers and their various combinations.
  • List any required software or hardware requirements to run the localized product.
  • Provide mapping for any components that can be leveraged from one another.
  • List all application(s) used to generate all graphics, including platform and version number.
  • Indicate whether you or we are responsible for generating screen captures.
  • Provide source applications and tools used to create the help and documentation, including platform and version number.
  • Provide the HTML-generation or filtering process, if applicable.
  • Provide mapping for any duplication and explain how the files relate.
  • Specify any font requirements.
  • Clearly identify non-localizable text either in the kit documentation or style guide.

While this list is not exhaustive, it does request the key information that will assist us in scoping out the project and providing a quote and project schedule. When we have this information, we can begin a project much more quickly and we will have fewer questions to ask of you during the localization process. The time invested up front in creating the localization kit will pay off in the long run!

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