Pseudolocalization

Pseudolocalization is a process in software development that allows for early adjustment of the final version of a product build before the actual localization process takes place.

More specifically, it is an established practice of testing different parameters in user interfaces (UI) to provide product development teams with a first impression of the final layout and usability of their product without having to actually translate it. These parameters include but are not limited to spacing, alterability of strings, readability, reading direction, etc.

How does pseudolocalization work?

Pseudolocalization works based on the use of a pseudolanguage. This pseudolanguage substitutes all localizable elements in the UI. It is readable by users of the source language but also contains elements of other languages that could cause bugs.

There are various pseudolocalization tools. Some of them are included in internationalization tools and some are independently developed tools for that purpose. These tools help developers to test different variables for localization readiness of the build during the design process, such as text expansion, untranslatable strings, readability, reading direction, etc.

After pseudolocalization and the spotting of potential problems, developers can adjust their design immediately and according to the requirements for the respective language. Not does it only save time and frustration, but it also makes it easier to isolate all of the strings that should not be translated.

As an integral part of the development process, Pseudolocalization plays an important role in the internationalization of user interfaces. This means that the software, code, and UIs are built with an international audience in mind right from the very start.

Why is pseudolocalization important?

With the sheer amount of languages in existence, it is paramount to get a grip on all the potential language versions of UIs, and other user-based and user-directed content. With the variety in length of texts, as well as the readability of paragraphs for big portions of content, pseudolocalization is a useful tool to avoid time and cost-intensive fixes later on.

In more traditional settings of the development cycle, localization and translation happen after the ready-to-launch version of software has been completed. This means that any fixing of bugs, adjustment of space, font size, and other details will turn into costly endeavors if they need to happen after the ready-to-launch version has been finalized.

A simple call to action (CTA) button on a website can turn into a developer’s nightmare and compromise the layout or usability factor just because after translation it would have to take up double the space intended originally.

Pseudolocalization will disclose the following issues:

  • Text that has been cut off,
  • Text that expands during translation,
  • Strings that have been combined,
  • Strings that are hard-coded.

Pseudolocalization helps to prevent and circumvent such problems. It allows the developer to test for space requirements, readability, user input, and usability during the development process. It also supports the detection of any hardcoded strings that should be changeable. This way, the variables that could cause problems later can already be accounted for.

Why should pseudolocalization be part of the development process?

Pseudolocalization proactively helps to prevent bugs that can be time-consuming and costly if they remain undetected before real localization and translation take place. Developers can see changes in the UI immediately without having to wait for the localized version of their product.

Pseudolocalization offers a hands-on approach to potential pitfalls. It eases the development process and supports fixing the design of a build before completing a launchable version. It is vital to the creation of an internationalized launch-ready version right from the start.

Bearing all that in mind, pseudolocalization is not only useful for the development process itself, it also lays a good foundation for the subsequent localization and translation processes.

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