This article is a list of some of the different categories of tools available for software localization, and some of our favorite tools within them. They can help address your localization challenges and manage the process of localization more generally. Whether you’re running a translation-oriented localization process or deep localized product and service changes, there’s a range of localization tools to help you manage it.
We define localization as adapting your product and marketing to the linguistic, cultural, and contextual requirements of your target audience.
In practice, this might mean:
If you’re pushing your product in a country other than your own, localization work is needed. This is true even in countries with English as the main language - just think about the fact ‘chips’ means two very different things in UK and US English!
It is notoriously difficult to calculate the ROI on localization, which is project-oriented and tends to span involvement from marketing, product, and engineering teams all eager to claim a commercial performance improvement belonged to them,
Generally speaking, the further away from your own culture you’re targeting, the more important localization will be. Translating into other languages that use the Roman alphabet might require minimal changes to your layout, just to accommodate word/sentence length, but if you need to use the Cyrillic alphabet, you might need to rearrange your whole user interface.
Taking the time to do this sends a clear message to the end user: that you created this product just for them. It’s there to meet their needs, and you understand what those needs are. Remember, it’s not a one-off thing either - continuous localization is a must for as long as you’re in a location.
There are many kinds of software localization tools available. They exist to assist you in translating text and managing terminology, as well as checking for bugs, controlling product versions, and sharing files.
1. Computer-assisted translation (CAT)
CAT tools help your localization process by using stored data to inform how you translate text. They “remember” how similar content has been translated in the past and fills a lot of your target text automatically, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and redo old work.
For example, if your localization team had previously translated the phrase “this software is super useful for localization” into Spanish, and that phrase came up again, it would be automatically translated, ensuring consistent translation quality. If it’s a similar phrase but not identical, the CAT tool will translate it but underline the differences so that you can manually adjust the target text.
CAT software ranges from free and open tools like OmegaT, to paid tools, often with additional functionality.
A TMS allows you to automate various parts of your translation process. It lets you work with different translation teams and manage large numbers of files in various languages.
Just like a content management system, TMS allows you to break down your work processes into translation, editing, desktop publishing, etc, all in one place while avoiding work duplication. So, for example, if you’re working with teams in different geographic locations, you can use a TMS to make sure that the teams don’t duplicate each other’s work while ensuring that cooperation is smooth and easy.
Linguistic asset management tools can centralize your linguistic assets, like phrase guides and terminology lists. These make the translation process easier while keeping content consistent and accurate across the board.
If, for example, you have several professional translators working on the same project, this will ensure that they all use coherent and consistent terms throughout. It also ensures that your brand image is maintained.
A term base consists of a series of glossaries curated for your branding and localization purposes. The database can be saved in different file formats, ranging from SCV and TBX, to XLS, depending on your requirements.
Your team can use these term bases on your translation projects to make sure that they’re adhering to the style guide and using the correct terms for your brand’s image.
QA tools are usually integrated into CAT tools, and can be specially curated towards your brand’s needs. To build the ultimate QA strategy, you’ll need to make sure a QA tool is included.
They typically check for consistency throughout translations, and accuracy in numbers, abbreviations, and trademarks, ensuring a high-quality final product.
So, for example, if you translate a piece of text containing a figure, but the figure isn’t identical in the translation, the QA tool will flag this up for you to look at. You can choose the settings for your QA tool so that everything, ranging from product names to numbers to abbreviations, remains consistent across your localization workflow.
Global App Testing runs QA processes across both translation checking and localized functional quality assurance. Localized testing is manual product testing from a locality, meaning that you can get a real tester on a physical device looking in the correct location who is from that location, to check for functional bugs via a dashboard or to give usability insights. You can read more about localization here.
Bug tracking, or testing, is essential to the localization process. Testers require this tool to find any problems and pass them on to the software developers to solve, whether in-house or as part of outsourced software testing.
Desktop publishing tools include the likes of Photoshop and other design tools. They are used to make changes to visual aspects of your product to better localize the software for your target market.
Changes can range from anything as small as a tone adjustment to a whole new layout of your marketing materials.
File sharing, management & version control tools are essential for working across different teams in different locations. If you are localizing your content, you likely have colleagues in the target region. These tools offer the freedom to cooperate easily with file sharing and centralized file hosting systems, with real-time updating.
You can use these to check on version histories, avoid work duplication or accidental uploads of previous translations, and work more efficiently as a broader team.
Here, we’ll cover some of the top providers we recommend when it comes to the localization of software.
Global App Testing for functional testing (engineers)
Global App Testing offers localization testing via real testers for engineering teams. Designed to fit into your software release cycle, local functional tests can be returned within 48 hours (any location functional tests are returned in under 6). This means you can drive faster release cycles and ensure you’re covered with tests even in geographies where automated tests are more difficult.
Global App Testing for product and project teams
Our package for localization and non-technical teams can assess your product from the perspective of translation, UI, access, and cultural nuance, to give you the complete story behind your product’s local performance.
Whether it’s an end-to-end usability review in an underperforming market, think-out-loud testing with users in a specific region, or simply checking a translation, our focus on fast turnaround, thorough insights, and client needs make us a choice which have retained teams from tech companies including Canva, Meta, and more.
Lokalise is a leading translation management system with solid UX and mid-range pricing. It is a multi-platform software that allows you to translate all of your content in one place.
Lokalise allows for the automation of repetitive tasks; easy cooperation with your team, contractors, partners and community; access to machine translation engines; advanced workflows with tasks and custom statuses; a single platform for centralized work; automated workflows with the ability to integrate with other services (e.g. GitHub and Slack), and many other features.
In particular, translators can enjoy numerous CAT features, such as translation memories and glossaries. Designers can use integrations with Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD. Finally, API, CLI, documentation, and other tools are available for developers.
Transifex is a localization service suitable for startups and larger, established companies. This SaaS-based localization and translation platform allows companies to continually translate digital content such as subtitles, games, videos, websites, and mobile apps.
Transifex has an international customer base, with companies such as Eventbrite and HubSpot using this software to localize their content for international customers.
Transifex offers a free 15-day trial, demos, and an entry price point of $70.
Smartling is a great choice if you’re looking for automation. You can collaborate on content via different platforms with relative ease, while their workflow management feature allows you to assign staff to workflows, chat with translators, make changes to translation settings, and analyze performances.
Their localization platform offers integrations with CMS tools, marketing tools, and code repositories, to name just a few, and you can enjoy insights into the quality of your translated material. Their visual editor lets you see how translations will look when they are finished, giving you insight into the user experience.
They also offer end-to-end translation management, so you can work on translations internally, hire external translators, and monitor every step of the process. It’s usable for any type of content, from mobile to websites, to VR, games, and more.
Phrase is another affordable solution and reliable TMS with a user-friendly translation editor, quality checker, integrations, and API. It is optimized for designers, developers, managers, and translators, and prices start at $29 per user per month.
The price includes 100 API requests, unlimited translations, and unlimited language combinations.
Phrase also offers smart automation features, which, along with the developer tools, API, and integration tools, make it easy for you to scale your project up or down. The project management features allow you to assign tasks to your colleagues and manage your team’s work.
The many integrations, along with support for popular localization formats, such as Android XML and Angular Translate, and workflow management features make this a solid choice for first-time localization endeavors.
Localization in software is crucial and the right tools can take you a long way. This is especially true as you expand into new markets internationally, with people in different locations and varying cultural norms and timeframes.
It’s hard enough to roll out a great software tool in one place. Rolling it out in multiple locations that are culturally distinct is an even greater feat. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone - with our crowdsourced testing, you can get access to testers in every location you intend to target, ensuring you get your launch right the first time.
We’d love to give you a personal demo of our platform. Find out how we manage, execute and analyse test results to help you release high quality software anywhere in the world.Ready? Let's talk