Peeking what’s inside the software localization & internationalization (Indonesia local context)

Localization! I hope you will not think of this word as prostitution (In local context, this term is commonly associated with prostitution). It is a term in hi-tech world and dealing with “localize” foreign technology product into local context process.

The term of localization has to be differing from the term of translation. If translation is transferring foreign language to local language, while localization is wider, that is involving the project of component adjustment, terminology, interface users, and so on. In other words, localization is more dealing with software world than hardware world.

The quality of foreign product translation into Indonesia language is still low until now. A lot of foreign language clues have bad translation. However, we can discuss it later. This writing will focus on localization world, which is more complicated than language transfer. Localization is become an urge necessity among the workers of Information Technology, because not all of the foreign product can be applied in Indonesia.

Because of that, localization also means a technology “contextual” project. One of the clumsiness of creativity development in Information Technology also cause by our human resource quality that haven’t much get involve on localization project. Ron Hardman, an application developer from America clearly explains about the important of software localization. He said, “Localization will involve the placement of product and make it appropriate whether linguistics or cultural with local target (country/area and language) the place of the product will be used and sell” (Oracle Magazine, XIX/5/09-10/05).

It means, software localization not only need a good quality of language translation, but also has to be clear and accurate when it is being used on interface and documentation.

Interesting is Scott Urman’s opinion, a chief of Oracle database developer. As he said on Oracle Magazine (XIX/5/09-10/05), “Our application is not design for localization”

Although one of the company products which is Oracle database 10g has been localize to many countries including Indonesia, even in the process only with three weeks this product has been successfully localize into two languages at once, each for Japan and French market.

What Scott Urman said is a sign for us to localize seriously a lot of software products. Because, with the statement “not design for localization’ will demand the software developers to be more creative. At least, there are two fundamental factors that decide the success of localization project globally.

The definition revealed by LISA (Localization Industry Standards Association) organization explains clearly enough about this. As revealed on its legal site, LISA states, “Localization involves all the organization/related company’s problem with company expectation become global in the real meaning. Product globalization and service will involve the integration all of the business functions whether inside or outside with the marketing, sales, and customer’s support in the whole world market”.

That strategy can be as a restriction area and certain language or as a determining of localization working level, for instance, separation of working between User Interface (UI) team with database team. The purpose of this strategy is to make the design of localization process simpler.

Second, Internationalization, -still according to LISA explanation, -internationalization project is, “Process of generalize certain product to be able to handle some languages and local culture rules without redesign. This process is applied to design program level and document development…”

Although internationalization is for solving the general coding and design problems, this factor will affected to the consistency of localization. As explains above, localization is not only translated the product but also how to adjust the product to the condition of certain market.

Determining the database definition especially currency, time zone, string, and problem solving to be appropriate with ISO form, or uses of National Language Support (NLS) which is provided by Microsoft Win32 API is Internationalization working. Meanwhile, the icon/symbol adjustment, image, colour, size of dialogue box, translation and terminology standardization and User Interface (UI), also the testing is localization working.
Localization process will demand a subtle changing also influence the internationalization process related technical aspect, which is adjustment toward source code.

The consequence is the source files have to design with string and codes that are easy to localize to other languages. Because of that the software developers who are involve in the internationalization process has to understand about this localization basic concept.

Third, software component from the third party (the creator of supportive software/ program). Is the component that support the main software has been localized? If the localize software would be operated, – but the installation support component (software from the third party) hasn’t been localized yet, – then that software installation will not works as it has to be.

Until now, the attention of the technology practitioner in developing country like Indonesia is related to that localization project not maximum yet. The lack of discussion about this makes a lot of practitioners confuse to decide the direction of localization working.

So then, our important recommendation today is to maximize the localization discourse seriously and comprehensive to map the necessity of Indonesian people toward the local technology product that is appropriate with the user’s need.
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