What is pseudolocalization?

what is pseudolocalization

Pseudolocalization plays an important role in ensuring localization quality, streamlining the localization workflow, and minimizing the risk of rework. Since localization can bring challenges, if you want to ensure that your applications are accessible and usable by a global audience, you may want to consider incorporating pseudolocalization into your development process. Continue reading to learn why.

Defining pseudolocalization

Pseudolocalization, also known as pseudo-translation/test translation/pseudo-loc/p-loc, is a software testing method used to check the internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n) readiness of software applications.

Unlike actual translation, which involves replacing text with translated equivalents in other languages, pseudo-translation replaces text with artificially expanded or contracted versions of the original language.

This allows testers to simulate the effects of translation on the application’s UI and functionality, identifying potential issues early in the development process before actual localization.

As Netflix product designer Tanner Christensen puts it: “When a product is built without consideration for how it might stretch, break, or be abused, those using the product are the ones who suffer most.”

Types of pseudolocalization

  • Character-based pseudolocalization. Replaces characters with visually similar but non-alphanumeric symbols to simulate expansion or contraction.
  • Font-based pseudolocalization. Utilizes fonts that have different spacing or character widths to simulate expansion or contraction.
  • Code-based pseudolocalization. Modify the application’s code to artificially increase or decrease the width of text elements, simulating the effects of translation.

Alas, the process can enhance the quality of the localization. By ensuring that the localized application’s UI is consistent, uncluttered, and easy to navigate, pseudolocalization contributes to a better user experience for a global audience.

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The importance of pseudolocalization

Pseudolocalization offers a range of benefits that contribute to a smoother and more successful localization process. First off, it allows for the early identification of potential localization issues such as layout issues, spacing issues, and UI inconsistencies.

The process can reveal potential layout problems, such as text being too long/short for its container, leading to overflow/truncation. By simulating the expansion or contraction of text due to translation, it can also identify spacing inconsistencies that might affect the overall look and feel of the UI. Issues like mismatched fonts or elements, and inconsistent color schemes can also be uncovered.

Pseudolocalization can also improve localization workflow. It can minimize rework during the localization process by identifying and fixing issues early, thus saving time and resources. By simulating the effects of localization, pseudo-translation also allows for a more streamlined translation process. Furthermore, you can allocate resources more efficiently by identifying areas that require more attention.

Alas, the process can enhance the quality of the localization. By ensuring that the localized application’s UI is consistent, uncluttered, and easy to navigate, pseudolocalization contributes to a better user experience for a global audience

What platforms can you pseudolocalize?

Pseudolocalization can be applied across various platforms and types of software to ensure that the localization process is smooth and that the software performs well in different languages and regions.

For example, pseudo-translation can be used to test platforms like:

  • Mobile applications. Test for layout issues, spacing problems, and text overflow on different screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Web applications. Test for font rendering issues and cross-browser compatibility.
  • Desktop applications. Test for text wrapping, character encoding, and keyboard layout issues.
  • Embedded systems. Test for language-specific input methods and date and time formats.
  • Game consoles. Test for text display and character rendering on different displays.

Each platform has its own unique requirements for software localization, so it is important to use pseudolocalization techniques that are appropriate for the specific platform.

Pseudolocalization tools

While pseudo-translation doesn’t involve real translation, you can use various tools to implement this technique effectively. Pseudolocalization tools in IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) include Xcode (for iOS development), Android Studio (for Android development), and Visual Studio (for Windows development).

Some development teams create custom scripts or use scripting languages like Python, Ruby, or PowerShell to implement pseudolocalization. These scripts can automatically generate pseudolocalized versions of strings or modify UI elements to simulate the effects of translation. Pseudolocalization can also be integrated into the build and test processes through continuous integration systems.

Some localization testing tools include features for pseudo-translation. These features typically allow testers to select the target language, choose the type of pseudolocalization (character-based, font-based, or code-based), and automatically generate the pseudolocalized text.

You can also use your translation management system as a pseudolocalization tool. If you’re using POEditor, for example, you can add the strings and then either manually pseudo-translate by replacing each line of text with an artificially expanded/contracted version of the original language or use our automatic translation feature.

To conclude

Pseudo-loc is a valuable method for improving the localization quality of software products. By simulating the appearance of translated text, pseudolocalization can identify and fix a wide range of localization issues early in the development process, before they have a chance to impact users. As a result, this testing technique can help to save time, money, and frustration, and ensure that software products are localized effectively for a global audience.

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