Chapter 12: Testing Localizability with Pseudo-Localization
When you purchase a new pair of shoes, you don't just walk into the store, tell the clerk what size you want, pay for them, and then walk out without making sure that they fit. By doing so, you most likely would end up spending your hard-earned cash on shoes that are the wrong color, style, and size. Along these same lines, why would you spend hard-earned resources on a particular localization-that might be a poor fit with your application-without first making sure your product is localizable? Pseudo-localization is a valuable, pre-emptive technique for measuring whether the software and content of a product-such as user interface (UI) elements-are localizable. By addressing the results of this technique, developers enable localizers to more easily produce localized versions of a product that have the same high quality of functionality as the original.
While the previous chapter introduced the concept of pseudo-localization within the framework of localizability testing, this chapter offers a more extensive look at its use. You'll see examples of common localizability bugs, as well as some of the features associated with pseudo-localization-including translation of text resources and text-length extension. Also discussed are the pseudo-localization of graphics and audio, of content such as Help files and Web content, and finally pseudo-mirroring for bidirectional (BiDi) languages.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, with pseudo-localization you can apply an automated simulation of the localization process, followed by building and testing these simulated localized versions. Pseudo-localization translates the strings of a product into "pseudo-strings." The resulting "pseudo-language" is designed to test the impact that different aspects of localization have on the product's functionality and appearance. These aspects include translation of strings with the use of different character sets and the growth of string length. Other options for pseudo-localization are the automatic localization of bitmaps (properties or overlaying text) and content; pseudo-mirroring, which simulates localization for right-to-left languages, should not be forgotten either. Since these processes are relatively easy to establish and can be fully automated, they can be applied early in the development cycle.
With products continuously increasing in size and complexity, and with an increasing demand for releasing localized versions of a product soon after releasing the English product, testing pseudo-localized product versions should become a standard part of the overall internationalization process. Fortunately, incorporating this practice is relatively easy. Almost any localization tool available on the market contains add-ons for required pseudo-localization functions or features, offering capabilities to help you find localizability bugs in a more efficient and timely manner. Before you embark on localizability testing with pseudo-localization, it is helpful to be aware of some common localizability bugs that you might encounter.