Lessons learned from localization Part 3: Test and then test some more

Lessons learned from localization Part 3: Test and then test some more

on Oct 11, 12 • by Patti Murphy • with 3 Comments

“Take nothing for granted,” is the mantra of every software tester. Add localization to the mix and the level of vigilance goes into hyperdrive. In the spirit of helping others avoid needless pain, I launched this Lessons learned from localization series. In Part 1, we explored documentation pain and...

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“Take nothing for granted,” is the mantra of every software tester. Add localization to the mix and the level of vigilance goes into hyperdrive.

In the spirit of helping others avoid needless pain, I launched this Lessons learned from localization series. In Part 1, we explored documentation pain and coping strategies. Part 2 was development discomfort and solutions. In this final installment, we explore the lessons learned by our testing department, who are known for being generous to a fault, as in “here’s a PR for you, and you, and you…”

For this post, I approached our testing team lead, Jonathan Patchell to get his take. This interview had to be carefully timed to avoid coinciding with a full moon, otherwise the series would have met a premature end (and so would its author).

Here we go:

1. Test everything possible in the product in the new localized environment

Obvious, perhaps, but Jonathan pointed out a situation where one feature broke in the Japanese product because one component expected a specific message in English from another component. When that message was translated to Japanese and implemented, the feature didn’t work anymore.

2. Check everything in the original localization

In our case, the original localization is English. In some cases, menu items items were displayed in Japanese.

3. Find a native speaker to verify translations in the product

Our Japanese partners, Marubeni Information Systems and Computer Engineering & Consulting, were invaluable in this process because not only were they native speakers, they were experts in our product.

“They gave a lot of useful feedback and found problems with very subtle wordings regarding key terms in the product that would be impossible for a non-native speaker or non-Insight expert to spot,” Jonathan says.

4. Side-by-side monitors and Google Translate are your friends

Using the product in a localized mode that doesn’t share a common alphabet is tricky.

“Not only does the product become strange, but the OS becomes cryptic as well,” Jonathan says. This makes trivial day-to-day operations difficult. As a coping strategy, the team works with the English and Japanese products using multiple displays. Frequent forays to Google Translate helped provide the meaning behind messages displayed in Japanese.

And that’s a wrap. I hope you found this series enlightening, and if not, then at least mildly entertaining.

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3 Responses to Lessons learned from localization Part 3: Test and then test some more

  1. Wow, wonderful weblog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The overall glance of your web site is fantastic, as smartly as the content!

  2. “4. Side-by-side monitors and Google Translate are your friends” -> How about using native speakers of the localised language? :) Maybe Google Translate will help you a bit if the product is localised into Spanish, but I doubt the translations you would get from Google Translate would be accurate if the language is Russian, or Farsi, or one of those for which Google hasn’t had much time to work on.

    Then you have those examples in which Google will tell you that the word used in your product is correct, but then a native person will read it and start laughing. For example, it is quite common to see in sites and some games the word “espalda” on a button used to go to the previous page or section or menu. This would be incorrect.. “Espalda” is the back, as in a part of the body. The correct word here would be “Atrás” or “Anterior”. So, how will you know that “Espalda” is the wrong word by using Google Translator? Try putting “Back” on GT and let’s see what you get ;)

    This is why is so important to always use native experienced testers for your localised products.

    • Patti Murphy says:

      Hi Curri,

      As Jonathan pointed out, we don’t rely on Google Translate to verify our translation. That’s where #3 comes in — We had native speakers AND product experts validate our translation and work with our localized product.

      Our test team uses Google Translate to get the gist of the general meaning of error messages when testing features in our localized product.

      Relying entirely on Google Translate for localization would be foolhardy indeed.

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