Tag Archives: localization

Marketing Localization at Adobe – What works, what’s challenging

I have been asked lately to talk to a couple of peers in the industry about Marketing Localization at Adobe and thought this would make an interesting blog post as well.

At Adobe, Marketing Localization is centralized and consists of a team of International Program Managers, which I manage.

I believe this is still the right model for us. Adobe has offices all over the world and decentralizing marketing localization would actually introduce inefficiencies. That said, the challenge with a centralized model is to balance productivity with the ability to provide GEOs with the right process and tools so they can participate and provide valuable input around GEO-specific nuances, country specific content, etc. This is an on-going challenge and we work very closely with our Marketing Managers worldwide to conquer it.

The challenge here is the balance between giving more flexibility and freedom of expression to the regions and the use of productivity tools such as Translation Memory. If we want to leverage the savings that TMs and other tools offer to localization (and we do), we can offer some flexibility in the target content but not as much as sometimes the regions would like to have – for instance, complete re-writes of segments.

At Adobe we are aware to these issues and the key here is to work closely with the regional offices and offer them opportunities to provide feedback early on, directly into the source content, before localization starts. It also means providing opportunity for reviews on localized content that is presented in context in a process that allows for easy feedback. Our GEOs are Field Marketing Managers and we are sensitive to the amount of time spent in reviews.

Challenges

There are always challenges in localization and in particular in Marketing localization, where ‘good translation’ is just not good enough.

Take the Digital Marketing BU for example. Worldwide campaigns around the digital marketing solutions have to appeal to ‘marketers’, to professionals that create marketing content, and so the ‘localization quality bar’ for the content we provide to our GEOs has been raised significantly.

Here’s an example of a recent campaign that was particularly challenging for localization due to the use of the very US centric expression “ticks them off”.  For translators is not always a clear choice of words for the target language.  The ‘weight’ of the expression and what it conveys need to be taken into consideration.

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Regional offices are free to create their own marketing materials – International Brand Guidelines are in place and Adobe’s Brand team works directly with the GEOs to ensure a consistent interpretation and use of our brand.

We are very protective when it comes to the Adobe brand and although the regional offices are given some flexibility in terms of creating some of their own marketing materials (in their original language), Adobe’s Brand team normally is involved to make sure the materials follow the established international brand guidelines.

What regions or international markets are most difficult or challenging for localization?

I think anyone that works in localization would start by saying that Japanese is a very challenging language to localize. The idea of ‘translation’ is already something that is not appreciated by the Japanese market. A very good ‘translation’ still means ‘it’s translated’ and so it has a different flow and feel than the content that is originated in Japanese.  This becomes an even greater challenge around marketing content.

At Adobe we do have a successful program for localizing marketing campaigns into Japanese and that involves working very closely with our in-country product marketing managers and employing in-country copy editors when necessary.

That said, every language and every country present challenges. We recently had to deal with orthography changes in Brazilian Portuguese, tonality changes in Spanish (formal to a more informal tone), imagery issues in the middle east, different ‘flavors’ of a single language, and so on. I guess I would say that there are no ‘easy’ regions. Our work is always interesting and we look at these challenges with a very positive attitude – these challenges are what differentiate translation from localization and it’s always exciting to be part of this process, where you see the source messaging deployed all over the world and having the intended appropriate impact in every region, around the globe.

What aspects of branding are most important to localize for regional audiences? What channels are most important?

The emphasis has greatly shifted to online content (web pages, multimedia content and social), the larger part of the content we now localize will end up on Adobe’s 57 international sites. The need for printed content has decreased but there are still certain regions that need to be supplied with printed content. We try to listen to our GEOs and provide relevant localized materials.

The Adobe ‘look and feel’ is very homogeneous in all our sites. Our regional offices have the flexibility to add country specific content but the site template is the same for all locales and all international sites are centrally managed.

Regional offices are also free to create some of their own marketing materials – International Brand Guidelines are in place and Adobe’s Brand team works directly with the GEOs to ensure a consistent interpretation and use of our brand.

I believe the big challenge now is the creation of a strong and successful Creative Cloud brand worldwide – and we are well underway 🙂

Bottom line

The regional offices should be an extension of your team and taken into consideration in every step of your processes and tools.

 

Internationalization as an Architecture

Creating global-ready, internationalized applications requires many people: engineers, project managers, translators, and often in-country experts. If everything goes as planned, the final product is internationalized and localized to meet the needs of a specific market. The required teamwork is amazing, and sometimes the expense can be surprisingly large. The mistaken conclusion is that internationalization must always be expensive, and that the effort simply costs too much in terms of schedules, resources, and of course money. The worst part about the conclusion is that the expense can be minimized considerably by rethinking when and how internationalization is performed.

Two causes of expensive internationalization are the delays in actively thinking about it and thinking of it as a simple feature. Often product managers and engineering teams simply do not plan for localization from the beginning of their project’s lifecycle. This is common in product teams that target English-only regions first. Unfortunately, engineers and product managers mistakenly think that they will be able to add the internationalization and localization “feature” at a later time when needed. This is an expensive mistake, and it comes from thinking of internationalization as a feature instead of an architectural and design style. The result is that the final product does not contain any framework for localization and has not been designed with internationalization and localization in mind. Ultimately, it is difficult and expensive to retrofit or “fix” an application that has a single language architecture and design. Internationalization simply touches too many areas of a product to be considered as a one-time feature that can be added to the product sometime in the future.

You can save yourself the expense and difficultly of retrofitting or fixing an English-only product by thinking of the internationalization step as an architectural element rather than a feature. A feature can be readily added to a product often because it has limited scope within the application or has few dependencies. A new feature is often “low-touch” or only lightly coupled with other features or areas of a product. Internationalization, however, often affects all aspects of an application. Areas of the product that involve number, date, time and currency formatting can cut across many areas. Internationalization is a “high-touch” activity that affects most areas of an application because user interfaces, strings, icons and colors, numbers, dates, and time values are used throughout an application. Finding and fixing those areas so that they are internationalized and localizable is an onerous task once the product already exists and is in production.

If you architect your product from the beginning so that localizable elements are isolated from core business logic, you make the localization task easier later. How can you think about internationalization as an architectural task rather than as a feature?

First, understand that internationalization will affect many aspects of your system. Think about all the areas that utilize strings and other localizable resources. The list may be bigger than you first imagined.

Secondly, after identifying those areas, extract those text strings and other resources so that they can be translated independently without touching your application’s source code. Every programming platform has a means of isolating resources from the core application. Learn about that mechanism and use it. Think of this step as creating the generic, language-neutral scaffolding upon which the rest of your application will be built. You want to create a core set of business logic and user interface layout that is independent from language and culture. Later, the language-specific elements can be translated and added onto this core architecture.

Lastly, architect your application to load needed language modules at runtime rather than having them hard-coded into the application. Placing the right internationalization architecture in the product from the beginning costs little in terms of time lines and resources, and it pays off significantly over time when product teams discover that their “English-only” application is now desired in new language markets.

Globalization Myth Series – Myth 4: It Takes 6 WEEKS to Localize a Product!

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages is provided via machine translation.
Introduction

Adobe’s Globalization team is committed to driving continuous improvement in customer experience and improving efficiency.  These are two of Adobe’s areas of focus for 2013.

The top customer feedback we used to receive was that localization of our products needed to be more agile.  The digital video team, for instance, moved to releasing English and localized products in one installer; they needed to sim-GM in order to release quickly and meet the market expectations.  The creative products customers in Brazil and Russia, for instance, were getting tired of waiting six months to get their hands on a localized product.  Like many in the industry, Adobe’s Globalization team began to face pressure to localize with fewer resources, reduce localization turnaround time, and improve quality.

Our challenge is to meet the aggressive release schedules of Adobe’s Clouds—Digital Media and Digital Marketing, their companion products and tools in 20+ languages. Currently, our team uses, roughly, 65% of our resources on Digital Media localizations, and 15% on Digital Marketing localizations (20% is dedicated to Print, tools development, finance, and other initiatives).  The localization team is made up of approximately 150 people—international program managers, international engineers, international quality engineers, and interns located in the US, China, India, Japan, and Romania, supporting approximately 150 product and functional teams.

In this paper we will show how Adobe has been able to accelerate localization and we will, hopefully, debunk the belief that localization takes 6 weeks.  With limited budget, we are meeting expectations, sim-shipping English and 20+ languages for the Adobe Cloud-based products—Digital Media and Digital Marketing– Developer/Web tools, and Touch Apps.  We support any agile workflow and release schedules can be as short as every 2-4 weeks (Photoshop.com, Acrobat.com, Cloud Manager, adoberevel.com), 6 weeks (DPS, AdobeRevel), to continuous releases (CCM) varying from twice a week to monthly.  In these workflows, we can complete a localization cycle as quickly as within 24 hours.  Our ultimate goal?  We are preparing for the day when Adobe products get released multiple times a day!

Sample SCRUM Schedule – Localized product sim-releases in 20 languages every 6 weeks

Slow is History! – Product Team Concerns in the Past and Globalization Team Response

Adobe product development models come in many flavors.  In general, the ‘waterfall’ model was considered standard.   Products such as Photoshop, Acrobat, InDesign, and Illustrator were well-suited for standard localization.  That is, at UI Freeze milestone, the localization team would step in and begin the localization process.  This meant that, by English GM, the localized versions were lagging behind by 4-6 weeks.

This localization model—start localization after UI Freeze milestone—had several drawbacks.  Localization partners got overwhelmed at end game; localization issues were found too late and, when issues were classified as “show-stoppers,” they could jeopardize the product release schedule; many critical defects ended up getting deferred for the next product release.  The model was costly, time consuming, it increased stress and burnout.

With the event of multi-lingual installers, SaaS, Cloud-based products, and new development workflows used by Adobe product teams such as Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, or Adobe’s own Aphid,  the Globalization team was faced with new requirements which called for a more accelerated localization workflow.  The new business model required that localization should be possible in any locale, be scalable to a large set of languages, and respect various budget constraints.  Product teams started to question whether the localization team was ready to keep up with the pace of the business. The answer was a big “YES, OF COURSE!”

For the sake of comparing two different models, see below a waterfall-model localization schedule and an agile localization schedule from the same period—2004.  The product following the waterfall model on the left, chose to ship single-language versions in a staggered schedule; the one on the right, based on Adobe’s Aphid model, released their product with a multi-lingual installer as a single binary.  At this point in time, Globalization was ready to accommodate both Product Teams.

Waterfall – InDesign                                                                             Agile – Audition

 

With the acquisition of Macromedia in 2005, Adobe Localization faced many new and exciting challenges. Dreamweaver, for instance, ran prerelease programs for all languages, which meant that localization had to be right behind English, at the same level of development, testing, and stability as English. Thanks to the many talents that we acquired and the level of cooperation between companies, we were able to leverage best practices and meet the expectations of the new Product Teams.

In 2007, Adobe acquired Scene7, a software company enabling websites to have real-time rich media; then Omniture, in 2009.  In 2010, Adobe acquired Day Software, a market leader in next-generation Web Content Management.  In 2011, web tool companies such as TypeKit and Nitobi, the maker of PhoneGap; Efficient Frontier, a digital marketing company; and Iridas, the maker of SpeedGrade, a professional color correction application; in 2012, Adobe acquired Behance, the leading online platform to showcase and discover creative work.

All these new cloud-based services demanded improved localization velocity, mostly through internationalization and automation.  Development cycles were short – 2-6 weeks – and updates were frequent and web based. Our team needed to shift focus in order to meet these cloud-based product requirements.

The Globalization team, in partnership with the Product Teams, worked towards an agile localization model.  Here were the first steps we took towards acceleration:

  • Ensured Adobe products were World Ready — created an assessment tool called the Globalization Report Card (GRC) to determine world readiness compliance.
  • Engaged international QE early in the development cycle to test and report internationalization bugs.  With that, international bugs were addressed in a timely manner which helped speed up the development cycle and improve products’ quality.  See “Globalization Myth Series – Myth 2: This software product is only for the U.S.” for evidence on the benefits of addressing internationalization issues at the beginning of the development cycle.
  • Worked cooperatively with the new Development Teams to set common goals and share best practices. This cooperation has resulted in better success rates than if localization were considered as an after-thought and as a different team.
  • Changed the mindset – if we got content EARLY and ITERATIVELY, we would localize software and documentation continuously.  Waterfall-based products started working with the globalization team prior to UI Freeze milestone.  We started localizing glossary kits early and testing localized builds sooner than in the past.  Documentation team started handing off non-final files prior to the usual “screen-shot ready build” milestone.  Localized documentation is now uploaded to the web at the same time as the English product and localization versions ship.
  • Developed more tools – invested in ALF (the Adobe Localization Framework is a multi-tiered system whose primary intent is to automate the localization process and facilitate the creation of localized products), machine translation (takes strings in one human language and automatically translates them into other human languages), World Server (an enterprise translation and globalization management system that enables Adobe to simplify and accelerate our translation and localization processes for any content, from our websites to instructional content to software applications and beyond), tools that helped achieve localization of fast releases nearly in sync with English.
  • Engaged our external localization partners earlier and began growing expertise in those teams. Some of our vendors now are capable of offering turnkey localization services for Adobe products. They have learned our products through prerelease, product demos, and training by our Globalization team.
  • Found new ways to engage with our customers through the Adobe Translation Center, international prerelease, and forums. These customers know our products best, so they can provide early feedback and we can save time in the long run.

With these measures in place, we were able to get closer to the English product schedule and were behind by just a couple of weeks.

Currently, the Globalization team has reorganized internally to manage the localization process for the end-to-end customer experience which includes software, marketing/web content, documentation, internationalization/localization testing, and educational materials.  We are better aligned and more agile, able to support localization for product cycles of 2-4 weeks (Photoshop.com, Acrobat.com, Cloud Manager, adoberevel.com), 6 weeks (DPS, Adobe Revel), to continuous releases (CCM) varying from twice a week to monthly. In order to achieve such challenging schedules, we are turning localizations around in 24 hours at times.

For instance, Adobe Creative Cloud is released with 16 localized components and its schedule today looks like this:

Standard, large projects schedules like Flash CS6, look like this:

Looking Forward — Introducing A.L.A., the Adobe Airport

One of Globalization’s biggest challenges is to meet the aggressive release schedule of Adobe’s Clouds, its companion products, web tools, and touch apps in 20+ languages.

In the same way that planes have to leave on scheduled time, crew and passengers in place, in a continuous flow, so do our localized products, where the crew is formed by International Program Managers, International Quality Engineers, International Engineers and ‘passengers’ are the assets (strings) for translation, from any number of products. The plane may only be going to France (say) or it may be doing stops in numerous countries. The frequency of flights will also vary, depending on demand.

Airport Background

We started out with pilot projects, mostly projects which needed quick localizations at end game.  Our requirements were:

  • Source strings were final and reviewed (proofread)

Our Product Teams’ expectations were:

  • Human translations compliant with Adobe terminology
  • Fast translation
  • No functional/linguistic testing

Note that even though our tool collects strings from multiple products and sends them to the translators, we can guarantee terminology consistency and quality because the strings are first leveraged through World Server; and our translators make use of our glossaries for reference.

The Adobe Localization Airport (A.L.A.)  aims to provide one-hour localization turnaround. Our tool collects strings from multiple products and sends them to the translators. Once translated, the strings are distributed back to their respective products, presto!

 

Turn-Around-Time (TAT)from Q2 2012 to Q1 2013, TAT has decreased from an average of 12.7 hours to 7.8 hours.  Our goal, by end of Q2 2013, is to reach 1 hour TAT or less, should the project require that much acceleration.

Airport Turn-around-time per language, per quarter

Conclusion

Localization does not take 6 weeks—it takes an average of 7.8 hours.  Our goal, by the end of Q2 2013, is to reach 1 hour TAT or less! This is a myth that we have debunked.  The Globalization tools and initiatives aim to make localization at Adobe even more agile, without compromising our products’ quality as well as customer satisfaction.

____

Credits:

The A.L.A. team—Ajay Kumar, Guta Ribeiro, Joel Sahleen, John Nguyen, and Warren Peet
Jean-Francois Vanreusel
Leandro Reis
Quynn Megan Le

Ready For The Community: Adobe Translation Center (ATC)

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages is provided via machine translation.

A single gateway into Adobe’s Community Translation “universe”

November 2012 marks the month when Adobe’s Globalization group is launching the “Adobe Translation Center” (ATC). For Adobe’s customers and fans, ATC will be the single access point to provide feedback and improvement ideas for existing translations in “Adobe languages”, the shipping languages of an Adobe product. At the same time, the center will also be the place where our vibrant and growing translator community explores – in a collaborative fashion – opportunities for “community languages”: Languages that are in high demand by their speakers, but not delivered as part of our product offerings.

ATC Landing Page
ATC landing page

So far, our community translation “universe” consists of two planets, reflecting its current two main focus areas:
Adobe Translation Center
itself is now offering functionality allowing fans to collaborate on user interface (UI) translation (formerly this has been available through Adobe Translator). The activity around UI translation has been growing quickly, supported and used by several hundred contributors.
The Adobe TV Community Translation project is ATC’s very successful bigger twin: More than 2,500 translators have already translated subtitles for more than 14,000 minutes of video to make educational, entertaining, and helpful content available in a growing number of languages.

Not too long ago …

In November 2011, this blog presented the success case of how fans and users enabled Adobe Business Catalyst (BC) to ship with an additional language UI in Dutch, entirely translated by the BC partner community. The motivation driving this effort was the interest to better serve the partners’ customers in that language (BC with Dutch UI).

Since then, the ATC product team has been busy at work and put a significant effort into improving the Translation Center’s “look & feel” and its functionality. Entering feedback and translation suggestions is now possible intuitively and in a visually pleasing interface that follows the overall Adobe.com experience. As with all Adobe products, agile development methodologies are allowing the team to react to user feedback: Even though ATC is now launched, we still consider it to be “work in progress” (as opposed to “set in stone”) and are eager to hear what the community desires in order to be more productive or to have a more delightful collaborative translation experience.

Product Explorer
Product Explorer

“Community Translation” at Adobe

At Adobe, community translation refers to the process of enabling our users to translate content in a collaborative environment, assisted by professional translators or moderators. Types of content available for community translation today are videos (through Adobe TV) and software user interface (through the functionality within Adobe Translation Center). In the future, we expect community translation to expand into areas like documentation or user forums.
Ideally, collaboration and interaction between contributors should make community translation a rewarding and fun experience. We are confident that our tools will contribute to such an experience, so that lively and passionate communities will be developing and thriving around them.

Why does Adobe promote community translation?

Adobe has a long history related to localization and globalization. Our products are reaching people all over the world and allow them to express their creativity, regardless of their native language or the locations where they live and work. No matter what language we are using, when speaking to our users, we are always deeply impressed, how important our products are for them and with how much passion they speak of them.
At its core, Adobe is a company as international as our users. We have offices around the world, and in all our teams worldwide one finds colleagues from all over of the globe: The desire to serve all our international customers with excellence, is deeply engrained in ourselves and is reflected in our daily work.

Adobe’s community translation program is one means to get another step closer to the goal of shipping “world-ready” or “truly global” Adobe products, based on demand expressed and input provided by our customers and user communities around the world.

Lightroom Polish
Lightroom Polish project

Why is Adobe building the Adobe Translation Center?

In the past, Adobe pioneered a few community translation programs, resulting in great responses from our users. After a series of pilots, we are now beginning to unify all of Adobe’s community translation efforts in a single place: Adobe Translation Center (ATC).
With engineers, user experience designers, and product managers, ATC has a dedicated product team whose goal it is to provide the best experience for translators from different communities. Building and maintaining such a platform represents a sizable investment for Adobe. However, we believe that the long term gain resulting from a better understanding of our international users, will be worth the effort, time, and investment.

Benefits of community translation

The cooperation between Adobe and its trusted professional translators has been working very well for many years now. This joint effort will continue to be a cornerstone of Adobe’s international success. However, there are some aspects of product translation where the involvement of the user community might have advantages over traditional workflows or may lead to something new altogether.

Feedback and translations through people using our products every day

It is impossible for professional translators to be experts for all products or areas they are translating for. While the professionals’ work for sure will always be correct, the everyday product user might – from time to time – have an edge to provide up-to-date translations.
In the past, we have experienced that a few translations in our products do not reflect the prevailing use of terms by our customers. In this area, we want to use the opportunity to make our translations match our users’ needs and expectations. With similar intent, we are leveraging mechanisms like community voting or commenting, so that translations match the expectations of the community at large and we are not representing isolated feedback.

It is important to note that there will be no “automatic way” for a community translation to enter the final product with review: In order to maintain the quality our products are known for, there will always be trusted moderators and reviewers close to the community who make the decision which string is ready for inclusion in the final product. By the way, only with the help of our partners on the professional translation side, will we be able to achieve scalability and support for the numerous community languages.

Evaluation of more Adobe product languages

ATC Lightroom
ATC Lightroom Page

Historically, Adobe has shipped in languages that have been representing our core markets: North America, Europe, Japan, Asia. That is a good number of languages already. With now the entire planet as the potential market-place for our products, however, we are constantly facing the question which languages to ship our products in. Currently, it is not possible to translate into all languages of the world due to logistics, cost, and incomplete information about addressable market size.
It is exactly the question which language to take on next, where community translation will help finding an answer by reversing a common mechanism: Instead of having to make assumptions about market sizes and demand for translated products before we ship them, ATC is empowering our users to indicate which languages are important to them and, hence, to us: Community membership size and translation speed for a product language, will be crucial indicators.

Shipping product languages vs. candidates for new languages

There are two different groups of languages which we are making available for community translation:

“Adobe languages” are all languages that are current shipping within a product. For “Adobe languages”, users can provide alternative translations if they discover typographic errors, if a string is too long or clipped, or simply, if they would prefer a different translation over the one that is currently appearing in the product. In our tools, shipping languages will usually appear as 100% translated and reviewed in our tools. Nevertheless, Adobe is looking forward to the community providing us feedback for those languages.

“Community languages” are not shipping with a particular product and we we make them available for community translation. For those languages, there can be different reasons why we are adding them to ATC: A passionate user community that we are aware of in a particular country, or repeated user requests to have a product available in their language, or business reasons on the Adobe side.

Full disclosure: To be perfectly clear, a “community language” which is 100 percent translated by a passionate community will not automatically be shipping with a future version of the product. The business decision which languages to ship, will remain the sole responsibility of the products’ stakeholders. Both the community and Adobe Translation Center team will always have to defer the final decision to the product team.

Why would users engage in community translation?

Lightroom Translation
Lightroom Translation

Users who participate in Adobe’s community translation program have a chance to get involved in the development of their favorite tools. They can directly affect the translation of a product through submitting suggestions.
And even if the translation into a specific language has already been completed, users will continue to have a channel to express their opinion (about translation quality). Or they can help us improving the product through reporting localization bugs in a convenient interface, without the need to go through complex bug reporting systems.

By joining the Adobe community translation program, users will strengthen their local community’s role and impact. In return, they will receive more attention. and, moreover, they have a good chance of influencing the future of an Adobe product, maybe even beyond localization support.

Community translation is already a common way for many companies (Adobe’s peers in the software industry among them) to explore new ways to interact and engage with fans, users, and customers. For Adobe, that type of interaction is one way to better hear the voice of our customers.

We strongly believe that our products will continue to improve because we intend to listen to that voice …

 

 

Globalization Myth Series – Myth 1: Software Globalization = Internationalization = Localization = Translation

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages is provided via machine translation.


Probably the biggest misconception we encounter when talking with some colleagues from outside the Adobe Globalization team is that software “Globalization”, “Internationalization” and  “Localization” all mean the same thing, and that thing is somehow related to something almost anyone can understand: Translation.

We can’t blame our colleagues for holding such misguided beliefs, as these terms have been used and abused for generations.

It probably doesn’t help that there are also terms in use such as “Culturalization”, “World-Readiness”,  “Glocalization”, “Transliteration”, “Transcription”, “Localizability”,  and “Japanization”.

The fact that each of these have corresponding abbreviations (e.g. G11n, I18n, L10n, T9n, C13n,  L12y) and also different spellings (“Globalisation”, “Internationalisation”, “Localisation”, etc.) just helps make the whole thing more scary and confusing to civilians.

This article hopes to clarify these differences, and provide a better understanding of the various steps that make up  software globalization.

Clarifying the terminology

We’ll focus our explanations around a few key basic terms that generate the most confusion. One thing to be aware of is that although the meaning of some tasks such as ‘translation’ and ‘localization’ are standard across the industry, some other terms such as ‘globalization’ and ‘internationalization’ are not. The definitions provided here are the predominant ones (which we use at Adobe).

Internationalization (commonly abbreviated as I18n) is an engineering exercise focused on generalizing a product so that it can handle multiple languages, scripts and cultural conventions (currency, sorting rules, number and dates formats…) without the need for redesign. Internationalization, sometimes referred to as world-readiness, can be divided into two sets of activities: enablement and localizability.

Localization (L10N) is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel”. Translating the product’s user interface is just one step of the localization process. Resizing dialogs, buttons and palette tabs to accommodate longer translated strings is also part of localization.

Translation (T9N) is simply converting the meaning of text in one language into another. In a software product, the content that are translated are user interface, documentation, packaging and marketing collaterals. Most translation work is done by professionals, although in recent years, some companies started exploring the use of ‘community’-translation, and machine-translation.

Globalization (G11N) refers to a broad range of engineering and business development processes necessary to prepare and launch products and company activities globally. The globalization engineering activities are composed of internationalization and localization  while the business development activities focus on product management, financial, marketing and legal aspects.

World-Readiness is an equivalent term to Globalization, but it’s more often used in the context of internationalization.

How do they relate to each other

The simplified diagram below illustrates the relationship between the main globalization-related activities.

In summary, in the context of software:

  • Translation is one part of Localization
  • Internationalization is a pre-requisite of Localization
  • Internationalization and Localization are parts of Globalization
  • Globalization includes many business-related activities outside of the product itself.

A real-life analogy

Still having trouble understanding? Let’s make an analogy to a product everyone is familiar with: an automobile.

The Toyota Corolla is one of the most successful cars of all time. Over 30 million of them have been sold worldwide. But, had its makers not adopted the basic principles of globalization back in the 60s, the Corolla would hardly be known outside Japan today.

So, to achieve such success, Toyota had to:

  • Embrace early on the idea that they wanted to reach markets outside Japan. They set up a world-wide network of in-country marketing, sales and customer support organization. (Globalization)
  • Design and develop a car that could be easily adapted to other geographical markets with minimum cost and effort (Internationalization)
  • Adapt cars to specific geographical markets. For example, for the U.S., Canada and most of Europe, the steering wheel and pedals were easily moved to the left side of the car without structural changes. (Localization)
  • Provide instruction manuals in the language of the market. (Translation)

Where the problem lies

So what is the impact of this ‘generalization’ of terminology to the software globalization process?

The main problem is that most product teams look at globalization as a single monolithic process that occurs sometime after design and implementation of the English product, and owned by a single team (the ‘Globalization’ team). This mindset encourages a “throw-over-the-wall” approach which often results in:

  • Additional core engineering and testing effort to resolve critical internationalization issues found late in the schedule
  • Additional localization engineering and testing effort to manually handle localizability issues
  • Higher number of product defects
  • Schedule delays
  • Poorer customer experience

Using the automobile analogy in the previous section, a “throw-over-the-wall” approach would mean that, to adapt a Toyota Corolla designed for Japanese customers to the American market, engineers would need to move the engine or the suspension system in order to move the steering wheel and pedals from the right side to the left side of the car – an expensive and time-consuming operation.

The short story (key takeaways)

  • Globalization, internationalization and localization are related but different activities, performed by different teams at different stages of product development
  • Incorporate Globalization into your thinking as early as possible. Start during design. Ask yourself: which worldwide markets am I targeting in the short term and long term? What do these customers need? If you just think about today’s markets you will ignore globalization.
  • Implement an internationalized product even if you don’t think you will sell outside the U.S. or to non-English-speaking customers, because this decision can easily change and then alterations will be very expensive. If your product is successul in one market, you will most likely have great business opportunities abroad. So, plan for it.
  • Internationalization should be primarily performed by the product’s core engineering team. Do it once, do it right, then hand it over to localization.
  • The localization process will be a lot easier and cheaper if the product is well-internationalized.

The most successful global corporations have instilled Globalization as part of all its employees’ “DNA”. In order for a company or product team to be successful internationally, there must first be a conscious decision from executives and the buy-in from everyone involved in the design and development of a software product to go international. This means that, unless the product and the entire infrastructure surrounding it are not ready to capitalize on the opportunities present in an international market, the global revenue potential of the product will never be fully achieved, or at a prohibitive cost only.

See also

Globalization Myth Series – Myth 2: This product is only for the U.S.

Dynamic Language Delivery for Adobe’s Mobile Applications

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages is provided via machine translation.

Recently, at Adobe’s developer conference Adobe MAX 2011 in Los Angeles, representatives of Adobe Globalization group had the opportunity to present – for the first time publicly – how we are envisioning the deployment of localized resources (texts, user interface strings) to mobile applications in the field.

In their presentation “Dynamic Language Delivery for mobile applications” (here as an Adobe MAX video), Daniel Nay, engineering manager, and Dirk Meyer, product manager, demonstrated how language updates or entirely new languages, can be delivered to applications on mobile devices in a matter of seconds. (In the presentation video, you can find demo sequences at 7:00 and 35:50 on the timeline.)

Localization Of Mobile Applications

Like in all other areas of software creation, the development of mobile applications, too, is increasingly applying “agile development” principles: Short “sprints” are helping to implement specific features in a targeted fashion and to deliver them into the hands of users and customers faster, compared to desktop software products. At the same time, and as a consequence of the new development paradigm, the time between the frequent “pushes” of new product versions become shorter and is often measured only in weeks. As a consequence, an end-user is receiving updated product versions more frequently. Fortunately, their installation only takes a minute or less, and (most important for some!) they can be skipped, if they don’t seem attractive or if there is no time for the update.

Dynamic Language Delivery (DLD): Localization’s answer to agile development

In the world of short development cycles and frequent updates, the differences between versions of a mobile application often consist only of a single feature, or some fixes for software bugs. Accordingly, from a localization perspective, the delta between the localized strings from one version to the next, is often only a small one. There might even be cases, where it is merely a fix for a localized string that constitutes an update. In situations like that, it may look a bit out of proportion to initiate a complete localization cycle for such a small change. Because no matter whether changes are big or small, translators, build engineers and testers, all have to follow a complex workflow with many mutual dependencies before the product finally can reach the app(lication) “stores” or the “markets”. Starting such a powerful machinery, designed to flawlessly localize the most complex desktop applications, for only small changes, and doing so even more frequently than in the “non-agile” past? Again, a bit out of proportion, it seems …

Here now, DLD provides a new way to deploy language resources, like user interface strings or other texts used in an application. And it does so without hindering the fast and agile engineering workflows and without slowing down the subsequent application delivery. Instead, DLD workflows are designed to match agile development cycles, including rapid and frequent deliveries to end-users. DLD enables the testing of improvements and modifications instantly, and allows for approved deliveries to be performed in real-time, be it in staging or production environments.

Principles Of DLD

DLD technology effectively decouples the delivery of the the mobile core application (plus one or more core languages) from the deployment of subsequent language deliveries (like UI string fixes or new languages). It does so by using two completely independent avenues to get those resources to a customer. Here is how …

DLD enablement & deployment

First of all, a DLD-enabled core application takes the usual route and reaches the customer as a fully tested and functional product through being downloaded from a website, “store”, or “market”. DLD-enabled means that an application should integrate a DLD library to perform DLD-related tasks (this integration is very lean and can often be achieved with a single line of code). The other requirement for an application to be prepared for DLD is that it should be architected in a “world-ready” fashion: Strings should be replaceable, variable interface string lengths should be possible through dynamic UI layout capabilities, and more. The good news here: It is already an accepted best practice to write any software – no matter whether it supports DLD or not – in a “world-ready” way so that it supports internationalization features and easy localizability.

If, at a later point in time, new or updated text strings or a new language altogether need to be delivered, a second deployment path through the “localization cloud” will be used, completely independent from the application deployment avenue. The localization deliveries will be held available on servers, queried by the application from time to time for language updates. The frequency of these queries can be set with the help of preferences in the application and, of course, a user should always be able to opt-out of this functionality completely.

Customizing multilingual applications in user-friendly ways

In addition to non-intrusive, instant language updates and the option to add new languages when an application is already in the hands of users, there are more ways how we can see DLD supporting new features of multilingual mobile software.
For example, if an application does not come in the language preferred by the user, DLD functionality can be used to check whether this language might be available from the “localization cloud”. More intelligent applications might actually notice that among its current languages there is none matching the (user-preferred) system language … and trigger an alert to download a “language pack” in the system language, if it is available. Thus, DLD can be used to improve a multilingual user experience, where languages and language updates are available at any time: For those, the need to locate, download or install a complete application bundle does not exist anymore.

Finally, it is important to note (the presentation video shows this), that the language updates are available in the running application right away, without having to restart or perform another type of user action: new resources are loaded in the background and appear seamlessly, once they have been downloaded and integrated.

DLD’s Benefits

In summary, DLD comes with a number of benefits for consumers of mobile applications:

  1. “Instant, real-time” delivery and integration of localization updates and fixes for mobile applications in the field.
  2. Language updates can be configured per user preferences, ranging from completely “transparent” to “fully informed”.
  3. Additional languages desired by a user after an application install, can be added on demand, without having to download and install another complete application package.
  4. Missing languages complementing a local device environment, for example, after switching the system language, can be discovered and installed if the user so desires.

Moreover, software development teams are also among those that save time and effort through DLD technology:

  1. DLD library integration is “minimally invasive” (often, only a single line of code is required).
  2. Leveraging the localization cloud, “world-ready” applications will be able to receive language updates whenever they become available during the development process.
  3. DLD separates application development from localization workflows. By doing so, it removes many process and scheduling dependencies between the two.
  4. Development work can continue until late in the cycle and for as long as the application maintains a state ready to receive strings of multiple languages with different properties.
  5. Development work can continue until overarching milestones are requiring it to get ready for the push live. A user interface does not have to be “frozen” with the arrival of localization resources.
  6. Testing work becomes more efficient and will not be accompanied anymore by repetitive tasks of building and installing the application, before testing it for every language or localization fix. Instead, as long as language fixes are involved, they can be delivered to the application instantly and the testers can verify their integration into the application without delay.

In Short …

DLD is the first workflow allowing for immediate, dynamic, and on-demand localization of an application during post-development states. This is possible through making localized resources available as updates, without the need to re-deploy combined application-language packages as a whole.

Among the advantages of the DLD approach, an almost instant “time-to-market/user” and a much simplified development/localization interplay, are probably the two most valuable ones. From many angles and perspectives, DLD is a fast and resource-saving  way to perform localization deployment for mobile applications running on a variety of devices.

Expect to see it in your favorite Adobe mobile application at some point in the (near?) future.

CS5.5 trials now available in additional languages

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages was provided by machine translation.

You may now download Win/Mac trials of CS5.5 in your language:

Enjoy!

 

More content into more languages!

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages was provided by machine translation.

With all the internet chatter about Google’s decision to end their free machine translation (MT) API and transition to a paid service, some of you may be curious what role machine translation plays at Adobe.

Adobe does not currently integrate Google’s API into any products so we are not directly affected by this change. But we do license machine translation technology from commercial vendors and we are actively investigating ways to leverage MT throughout the company.

Adobe has a market presence in over 30 different languages, so any bit of documentation produced in English potentially multiplies out to a considerable cost if translated into all of those languages. Likewise, every day the company receives incoming communication in the form of emails, testing feedback, and customer service inquiries in even more languages!

To help manage this communication both directions, the Globalization Group at Adobe has turned to machine translation technology. The first step has been to insert MT into the document translation process. Instead of sending documentation out for translation from scratch, we first run the text through MT engines that have been customized for Adobe terminology, and then have our translators post-edit the output. Doing so, we see a speed-up of up to 50% with greater terminological consistency.

Right now, about 20 products are using MT for at least one language — including Photoshop, Acrobat, and Illustrator — and the list is expanding each month.

And the story doesn’t end there!  We are actively working on other ways to leverage MT to improve our ability to serve and communicate with a worldwide audience. Watch this blog as we gradually roll out new initiatives in the coming months!

— Raymond Flournoy
Senior Program Manager, MT Initiatives
Translation Technology Team

Localized Platform ActionScript Reference

This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages was provided by machine translation.

The Adobe® Flex® ActionScript® 3.0 Language Reference in 6 languages is no more; the ActionScript® 3.0 Reference for Adobe® Flash® Professional in 16 languages bit the dust as well. Before you panic, the localized ActionScript References have gone the route of the English-language ActionScript® 3.0 Reference for the Adobe® Flash® Platform.

Announcing! The Platform ASR, as we affectionately call it, is now available in all 16 languages of the Flash Platform: English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, Russian, Turkish, Polish and Czech!

In addition to English, commenting has been enabled for French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, and Simplified Chinese.

Now, if you develop in Flex, ColdFusion and Flash, in a language other than English, let’s say Japanese, you will be able to filter on those products and get the AS classes you need, all in one single document!

Not all products are supported in every language, but the beauty of this “all products under one roof” scenario is that you won’t have to go back and forth between the English-only version and a localized version if you are, for example, a Flex and ColdFusion developer. That’s because, for those products not supported in a particular language, you will find the English default in the same document. For example, French is supported by Flash Pro, AIR, Flash Player, Flex, but not LiveCycle or ColdFusion. So, in the French Platform ASR, you will find French and English together, depending on which products or runtimes you filter on.

The URLs to each language, for your convenience:
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/fr_FR/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/de_DE/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/ja_JP/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/es_ES/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/it_IT/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/pt_BR/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/sv_SE/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/nl_NL/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/ko_KR/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/zh_CN/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/zh_TW/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/cs_CZ/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/pl_PL/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/ru_RU/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/
http://help.adobe.com/tr_TR/FlashPlatform/reference/actionscript/3/

I hope you are as excited about this as I am. Please blog and tweet about it, but most importantly, start using the new Platform ActionScript Reference in one of the above languages! Let me know what you think.

[Janice Campbell, Platform Localization]