In computing, localization is the process of modifying software and translating text so that it is more suited for a specific area or language. It involves adding culture-specific components for a region. Similarly, the localization of a product or device involves adapting the product or device so that it can perform under the conditions of a specific region by adding or adjusting locale-specific components. To ensure a product or device will function properly in a specific locale, a localization test can be administrated. Localization testing determines how well products can perform under the conditions and environment of a region. This test is based on globalized testing results where the functional support for that particular locale has been verified.
The primary benefit of product localization is access to a higher number of markets. While it is seemingly cost to produce localized products for international markets, in the burgeoning global economy, it is becoming increasingly advantageous to localize products and devices. Also, because end users generally lack the ability to self-localize as in open-source environments, supporting one region is limiting.
Localized software will often face domestic competition. Thus, it is crucial for one's localized product to function properly and seamlessly in each locale it will become available. Localization testing should be used to help ensure that the product successfully migrates to its target markets.
The goal of localization testing is to make sure that a variety of products can perform properly in specific regions, regardless of language, internet connection, or cultural norms. A quality localization test facility will be able to develop, manage and manage a centralized testing plan specifically targeted to each diverse product line. Some labs will have the added benefit of providing the ability to arrange appropriate satellite laboratories dependent upon the product specification.
Localization test content may include:
– FAX / MFP Function Check
– 2G / 3G Data and Voice Service Check
– WiMax, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Function Check
– ISP Connection Check
– User interface and content files verification
– Culture-specific and country-specific functionality test
– Default spelling and speech checking
– Basic functionality test and hardware / application compatibility test
As previously mentioned, the device market has grown to include areas far beyond any one company's own country. In order to compete and grab hold of additional markets, companies are looking to expand into a long list of other country's now emerging as major buyers of consumer electronics and business technologies. Companies are not just making plans for sales in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, India and the United States. Now localization testing is needed to ensure products can be sold in Indonesia, Thailand, Qatar, Yemen, New Zealand and Kuwait.
It is important to recognize the difference between internationalization and localization. Internationalization is the adaptation of products for potential use almost everywhere, while localization is the addition of a special feature or alteration of a current product for use in a specific locale. Internationalization only needs to happen once to a product; however, localization must be done once for each combination of product and locale. These processes are complementary, and combining them will result in a product that is able to function globally. There are several subjects that are unique to localization, such as language translation, local customs and content, symbols, order of sorting, aesthetics, cultural values and social context.
The following are items to help determine if a product would benefit from localization testing:
– The components altered during localization
– Validation of application resources
– Verification of linguistic accuracy
– Basic functionality tests
– Culture-, language- and country-specific areas, such as defaults, spelling checkers and speech engines.
– Encryption algorithms incorporated into local hardware.
– Formatting of mailing addresses. In some countries, the order of last name and first name dif.
– Date formats
– Size of papers
– Hot Keys
While there are many universal elements in product development, catering development according to the standards of specific regions is attainable through proper localization testing.
~ Ben Anton, 2009