I’m often asked for recommendations on the best localization tools to use. Sometimes it’s translators who are just starting to build up their localization experience who ask. At other times, it’s experienced localization experts who are simply checking that they’re using the best tools for the job.
Whatever your own motivations for wanting to know more about the best tools to use for the localization process, I thought it might be handy to share a run-down of some of the tools that the Tomedes team are particularly enamoured with. Read on for insights into the best localization tools and platforms on the market, as well as some important considerations before you choose which ones sound right for you.
What Is a Localization Tool?
I’ll start with the basics, for those who are just getting to grips with localization and how to tackle it.
What is localization? It’s the process of adapting a document, product or service to suit another country or region. It encompasses translation, but also a great deal more. Localization ensures that the item in question fits culturally with the new audience in every way, from its imagery to its coding to its formatting.
What is a localization tool? It is a piece of software or app that helps with the localization process. It blends human and automated, computerised efforts in order to deliver efficient localization. Translators (and others, such as project managers or software developers) can use localization tools to improve the speed and quality of their localization work.
If you’ve used computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools before, you’ll already be familiar with one element of localization tools, as this is something that they incorporate. They also provide the ability to process and manage large projects, apply version control and work with a range of document formats, without the need for complex and time-consuming conversions into other document types.
For the translation element of localization, platforms tend to contain a robust editing tool, spelling and grammar checker, dictionary, terminology database and translation memory. Everything you need to drive up translation quality.
Various localization tools also include reporting and analysis functionality, which allows the user to monitor progress and compare it to previously completed projects.
Why Should You Use Localization Tools?
As I touched on above, localization tools can help translators to work faster and to achieve greater accuracy and consistency in their projects. Whether it’s product, website or software localization that’s required, it’s important to deliver excellent results in the best possible timeframe. That’s what will keep your customers coming back for more. And that’s what the right localisation tool can help to deliver.
The Best Localization Tools and Platforms on the Market Right Now
There are plenty of different localization tools on the market. Whenever someone asks me to recommend one, my first question is why they need it. Website localization, for example, is very different from computer game localization.
Localization tools range from platforms that encompass every imaginable element of the process to individual tools that are designed to deliver one single function, so it’s important to work out what you need. I’ve included recommendations for each of these approaches below, so you should be able to find a useful tool, whatever your preferred approach.
A Quick Glimpse of the Localization Process
Before we dive into the best tools for the job, let’s take a quick look at the localization process. Doing so often helps to show the value of a decent localization tool. In simple terms, the localization process for a website, an app or a video game incorporates the stages outlined below.
If it’s website localization that particularly interests you, by the way, I recommend clicking through to the article below, where I explore this concept in more detail.
Read more: Website Localization – The Complete Guide
- Resource file extraction – the first thing you need to do is extract your resource files, ready for translation. You may need to extract your files to a certain format, depending on the localization platform that you’re using.
- Translator selection – next, you need to select the language professionals you need, either through the localization platform itself or from an external translation agency.
- Translation – your chosen professional(s) translates the strings within the localization platform.
- Quality assurance – a project manager, proofreader or editor will review the translations and suggest any necessary edits.
- Export the translated files – you will have to export the files from the localization platform and import them into your software or website. Copying the translated files into your code structure and then deploying them completes the localization process.
- Localization testing – before releasing your product, check for (and fix) any bugs. You can read more about this by clicking the link below.
- Launch! Once you’re happy with the localized software, it’s time to share it with the world.
Read more: What Is Localization Testing?
Note that this is the part of the localization process that deals with the textual component of the software or website. Work also needs to be undertaken to address issues such as imagery and site design. Some languages, for example, run left to right while others run write to left. This needs to be factored into the localization process if the final product is to look good and deliver a great user experience.
I could spend hours providing different examples of how localization works in practice, but the above should suffice for showing which elements of the process a decent localization tool can assist with.
Do you want to watch a video instead? Here's a short one that can indulge your viewing pleasure.
All Around Localization Tools
I think there’s plenty of value in opting for an all-singing, all-dancing localization platform that delivers every feature you could possibly need. Sure, there will be a bit of a learning curve as you get to know the platform and all of its functions, but the investment of a little time upfront should pay dividends once you’re using the platform confidently to increase your localization pace.
A fully featured, integrated localization platform will deliver everything from CAT tools and translation management to built-in extraction modules and contextual assistance). Here are five of the best all-round localization tools on the market right now:
- Lokalise – this platform is pitched at agile teams looking to embrace automation, workflow transparency and fast project delivery. Key features include collaborative translation, localization workflow management, localization process automation, translation quality assurance, in-context editing, delivery to end users, support ticket translation and, of course, translation services. I particularly like the full control over the end to end localization process that Lokalise delivers.
- Transifex – this localization platform offers one solution (Live) for websites and another (File) for apps and other digital content. It’s fully featured, delivering an agile, effective localization process. I was impressed by its integration with GitHub repositories, meaning that developers can automatically send new or untranslated strings straight into Transifex.
- Phrase – if you’re looking for scalable software localization tools, Phrase is an ideal choice. Its API has been designed to fit all software localization processes, delivering maximum flexibility for localization teams and streamlined working.
- Smartcat – this localization tool is simple yet powerful, combining translation automation technologies with communication capabilities. This is a free to use tool, so ideal for those on a budget!
- POEditor – this flexible localization management platform allows you to work on games, apps, websites and more, either as an individual or through a collaborative team approach. It integrates with everything from GitHub and Azure DevOps to Slack, as well as offering a range of translation options.
- memoQ – a fully fledged localization platform, including a slick translation management system that is easy to tailor to your individual needs in order to streamline the translation and localization process.
Of course, there’s nothing to say that you need to do everything within a single localization platform. Perhaps you’re looking for a range of independent software localization tools where you can mix and match your functionality. If so, I’ve got some great recommendations for tools that can help with different elements of the localization process.
- SDL Trados Studio – an industry stalwart, this CAT tool and translation memory software will serve you well when it comes to speeding up the translation part of the localization process.
- Wordfast – this platform-independent translation memory helps drive up consistency during the translation process.
- Memsource – a top translation memory that’s easy to use and highly effective.
File Management and Sharing Tools
- Dropbox – one of the most popular file-sharing and management tools, Dropbox is a simple but well thought out tool that enables easy collaboration.
- Box – similar to Dropbox in many ways, Box is an effective content management, workflow and collaboration tool.
- Google Drive – used around the world, Google Drive allows for quick and easy file sharing.
Glossary for Specific Industries (Term Base)
- SDL MultiTerm – this desktop terminology management tool allows you to manage multilingual terminology in one central location.
- memoQ translator pro – this integrated term base allows you to import existing glossaries and combine them. You can also flag up forbidden terms.
Localization Testing Tools (Bug Testing Etc.)
- TestRail – this tool is ideal for those looking for real-time insights into testing progress and the efficient management of test cases, plans and runs.
- TestLodge – this online tool allows you to manage test plans, runs and cases with ease.
- Redmine – a great open source issue tracking and workflow management tool.
- Verifika – this handy tool not only verifies the quality of your translation but allows you to edit segments without you having to go back to your CAT tool.
- Xbench – a powerful quality assurance and terminology management tool that supports dozens of CAT formats.
- QA Distiller – an automatic error detection tool that allows you to jump directly to the errors within your file.
- GlobalSight – an open source translation management system that provides automation and streamlined management capabilities.
- LingoHub – a translation management software that incorporates personalised quality checks and intelligent text change detection.
- Skitch – fast, easy and convenient to use, Skitch lets you take screen grabs of varying sizes, either to save as files in their own right or simply to paste into a document. A range of annotation features let you highlight any issues with arrows, circles, text and more.
- Lightshot – this allows you to take screenshots and customise them. You can also search for similar images through Lightbot, which can be handy.
- PicPick – an all-in-one design tool that allows you to take screenshots and customise them in various ways.
Things to Consider when Choosing the Right Localization Tool
I’ve included a wide range of software localization tools in order to demonstrate the breadth of choice that you have when it comes to finding the right solution to meet your particular needs. If you’re not sure which to opt for, why not consider the following?
- Time available – how much time do you have to implement a solution and learn about the tool(s) that you buy?
- Existing resources – if you already have several of the tools needed to carry out localization projects, it might be cheaper just to fill in the gaps by selecting individual tools. However, opting for a fully featured localization platform could make for a more efficient process – once you’ve learned how to use it!
- Budget – do you need to opt for free-to-use localization tools or can you splash the cash?
- Ease of use – are you very technically minded? If not, it might be an idea to prioritise ease of use.
- Open source – are you excited by the idea of getting involved in an open source project?
- Collaboration – if you’re working as part of a team, what will be the easiest solution for the whole team, rather than just you own part in the process?
I hope you’ve found some useful tools here, to help with your software localization work. Localization is a complex process, but the tools we’ve included – both the localization platforms and the individual tools – can help to make it easier. They support faster, more efficient and more accurate localization work, whether you’re dealing with an app, a game or a website. If you want to know more about game localization, by the way, click the link below.
Finding the best localization tools will mean something different for everyone, based on their responses to the considerations above. Why not leave a comment below to let us know which localization tools you find the most useful and why?
Read more: Game Localization: The Complete Guide