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What is the difference between Localization and Internationalization testing?


ISTQB definition:

Localization testing

This is also called internationalization. Localization is making sure that systems are understood in different countries and in different cultures. This involves the translation of text for information, menu items, buttons, error messages, and field names: in fact, anything that someone will read on a page.

Although tools can help in some ways with translations, the tools often get it wrong, particularly with colloquial expressions. Tools can be of more help in other ways, for example, if the same translation is used in many different environments or platforms (such as mobile devices). This is one area where human intelligence is still needed.


Human language:

Internationalization and Localization, often abbreviated i18n and L10n, are means of adapting computer software to different languages, regional peculiarities, and technical requirements of a target locale.

But what is the difference between these terms? The goals of these concepts are the same, but their achievement is completely different.

Let's describe them separately


Internationalization

Internationalization - is often written in English as i18n, where 18 is the number of letters between i and n in the English word.

Internationalization - is the process of preparing products, services, and internal operations for expansion into global markets, which enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language. Internationalization significantly affects the ease of the product's localization is a key step for selling products and services to consumers in different countries.

However, it doesn’t involve any actual translation Internationalization is the process of designing a software application so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without engineering changes. An internationalized product/application design is one that can accommodate localized content, such as characters in non-western letters, double-byte languages, an ability for text to expand as in European languages and contract as in Asian languages, display Unicode characters and have a database that supports Unicode characters, etc.


The design aspects to consider when internationalizing a product are:


Data encoding

Letters, numbers, and other characters encode differently based on the Location. ASCII encoding works for most European languages. However, languages with non-Latin alphabets like Chinese, Hindi, Korean, and Russian require Unicode character encoding. Therefore, you need to set up a standard code for information interexchange depending on the region.

Hardware device support

There are a huge number of different devices with different screen sizes, operating systems, and specific set-ups that you have to optimize the website or mobile app before starting localization to satisfy your international locales.

User interaction

Certain languages take up more space than others and have a larger number of letters or words. In order to avoid adjusting the design, resource files, or other locale-specific components for each language during the localization, you should adapt the user interface to have enough space for every version of the text.

Data and documentation

Documentation can take on a variety of formats, all formats should be documented for the corresponding language and locale.

Software construction

There are lots of software engineering disciplines that you need to adapt depending on the Location.


The key design areas to consider when making a fully internationalized product from scratch are:


Algorithm design and data formats

There are different time and date formats in different locations, so it’s helpful to adapt the format to your target audience For internationalization, UTC is often used internally and then converted into a local time zone for display purposes.

Software services

When you start selling to consumers in new regions, you’ll need to offer multilingual customer service that makes sense for their time zones.

Documentation

All forms of documentation must include basic information about the data that allow for its correct interpretation and reuse by yourself in the future and by other researchers, depending on the location. Most business experts agree that marketers need to internationalize their content before localizing it.


Different countries have different economic conventions for internationalization, including variations in:

  • Paper sizes;

  • Broadcast television systems and popular storage media;

  • Telephone number formats;

  • Postal address formats, postal codes, and choice of delivery services;

  • Currency (symbols, positions of currency markers, and reasonable amounts due to different inflation histories) – ISO 4217 codes are often used for internationalization;

  • System of measurement;

  • Battery sizes;

  • Voltage and current standards.

Also, different countries have different legal requirements for internationalization

  • Privacy law compliance;

  • Additional disclaimers on a website or packaging;

  • Different consumer labeling requirements;

  • Compliance with export restrictions and regulations on encryption;

  • Compliance with an Internet censorship regime or subpoena procedures;

  • Requirements for accessibility;

  • Collecting different taxes, such as sales tax, value-added tax, or customs duties.

Localization

Localization - is abbreviated as l10n, where 10 is the number of letters between l and n.

Localization - is the process of adapting internationalized software for a specific region or language by translating text and adding locale-specific components.

Localization uses the infrastructure or flexibility provided by internationalization. A localized product creates more business opportunities and caters to growth and expansion.

Successful localization maintains a global brand identity while simultaneously customizing products and services for unique local markets. Unlike translation, whose task is the conversion of text from one language to another. Localization takes translation one step further to make a product or message resonate with a specific target culture as if it were created there in the first place.

Translation - is typically the most time-consuming component of language localization.

This may involve

  • For film, video, and audio, translation of spoken words or music lyrics, often using either dubbing or subtitles;

  • Text translation for printed materials, and digital media (possibly including error messages and documentation);

  • Potentially altering images and logos containing text to contain translations or generic icons;

  • Different translation lengths and differences in character sizes;

  • Consideration of differences in dialect, register, or variety;

  • Writing conventions like Formatting of numbers (especially decimal separator and digit grouping); Date and time format, possibly including the use of different calendars;

Localization also may take into account differences in culture, such as

  • Local holidays;

  • Personal name and title conventions;

  • Aesthetics;

  • Comprehensibility and cultural appropriateness of images and color symbolism;

  • Ethnicity, clothing, and socioeconomic status of people and architecture of locations pictured;

  • Local customs and conventions, such as social taboos, popular local religions, or superstitions such as blood types in Japanese culture vs. astrological signs in other cultures.

Both internationalization and localization play an important role in optimizing your software or mobile application product for different locales and different countries. Internationalization concentrates on developing a product that can easily be adapted for target audiences in many different countries. Next, localization takes the internationalized product and makes it as relevant as possible for a specific market.

Life example:

Let's take a look at the example of Internationalization and Localization.

Example 1: Internationalization

Imagine that our task is to make internationalization the website of the product around the world: Louis Vuitton.

In the case of globalization, our task is to prepare our product, its services, and internal operations for expansion into the global market. In particular, adapt the website for the United Arab Emirates country and Arabic

As you remember, translation is typically the most time-consuming component of language localization, but the Arabic language has it specific, one of them is that the text displays from the right to the left

English

Arabic

So it is not enough just to make localization and translate the website to the Arabic language, we should adopt our website to show these translations correctly. In our case, that means setting up the page layouts so that the translation is displayed according to the specifics of the language and region.

This is only one of the aspects of internationalization, however, in order to successfully prepare our site for internationalization, we need to consider all the aspects mentioned in the section above.


Example 2: Localization

Our task is the same to make localization of the website of the product around the world: Louis Vuitton

In particular, adapt the website for the United Arab Emirates country and Arabic language. In the case of localization, our goal is to adapt our website for a specific UAE region and Arabic language by translating text and adding locale-specific components.

Therefore, first, we make a translation of all components on the website. However, localization is not only about the translation itself. For making, it as relevant as possible for a specific local market, we have to add locale-specific components, in our case it can be:

  • Styled pages with national-style clothing sold only for Arab countries;

  • Possibility to create a promotion company with special offers and promotions during national holidays in the UAE like Kurban Bayram;

  • Possibility to find OAE clothing stores through the store locator etc.

These are only a few of the aspects of localization, however, in order to successfully prepare our site for localization, we need to consider all the aspects mentioned in the section above.

Conclusion:

So, if you are asked at an interview: What is the difference between localization and internationalization? The best way to answer is:

Internationalization - is often written in English as i18n, where 18 is the number of letters between i and n in the English word. Internationalization - is the process of preparing products, services, and internal operations for expansion into global markets, which enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language. Internationalization significantly affects the ease of the product's localization is a key step for selling products and services to consumers in different countries.

Localization - is abbreviated as l10n, where 10 is the number of letters between l and n. Localization - is the process of adapting internationalized software for a specific region or language by translating text and adding locale-specific components.

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