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The Localisation industry

Localisation is the customization of software to a specific culture and language. The main objective is to make the user think that the application was originally produced in his language. Localising a product takes into account language, culture, customs and technical aspects as well as other characteristics of the "locale" to which we want to adapt the product to.

It is essential for a company that their services or products are presented to the client so that he understands what the company offers. The translation and localisation industry helps companies, governments and NGOs to create global content.

Note - A locale is a collection of linguistic and cultural user preferences represented as a list of values ensuring that users around the world can configure their systems to use the correct formats for their own language and region. These preferences can include language, date/time formatting, number formatting, spelling, keyboard layout, currencies and many other items. They are usually included in the operating system.

The interaction of technology, business and culture

The globalisation is much more than a technical process and involves changes in the way a company does business. While the international market stays in the background and the company only looks for cost savings, globalisation efforts will not be truly effective. The globalisation is not a process that starts once the product has been designed but should be considered from the early stages of the design phase. If it is not considered from the beginning, the subsequent cost of localisation will increase considerably.

Globalisation is more a cycle than a separate process as we can see in the figure below.

Localisation Workflow

In this picture we can see that the two major processes involved in globalisation are localisation and internationalisation:

Internationalisation includes the planning and preparation of a product from design to be easily adaptable to different markets. During this process all the cultural aspects of the application are separated. Linguistic aspects and country specific aspects are stored in external modules so that it is easier to adapt the application ("locales") in a later stage.

Localisation is adapting the product to a specific market. It includes translation but also adaptation of graphics, currencies, dates, addresses, phone numbers and many other factors and parameters. If these parameters and factors have not been taken into account during the internationalisation phase, they must be adapted during the localisation phase, which will increase the cost and time of the project. Therefore localisation is not just a technical translation but involves many other factors such as the adaptation of social and cultural aspects within the application and even source code modification and graphic user interfaces adaptation.

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Localisation is to take a product and make it linguistically and culturally appropriate for another locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold.

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