Continuous Localization: The Coming Collision in Your (Software) Company

If you're a software company, you have a multi-million dollar problem waiting across the borders of your international expansion.

Every software company 'going global' has a multi-million dollar problem hiding in their codebase. But the pain doesn't stop at code. There is a collision between software product companies and translation providers that can threaten your successful international expansion.

Continuous Localization is the biggest challenge faced by any software company that wants to deliver a localized version of their product.

Here's why:

1) You're codebase is not internationalized.

With rare exceptions, software developers are focused on delivering features – fast. Writing code that works in any language (what developers and localization professionals call locals) is both a time-consuming design exercise and a specialized, scarce skill.

That means that code is deployed that is functionally perfect in one local and breaks in a new one. Problems can include dates (21-09-2023, letters (ë ę) and currency ($2,201.04 or €2204,04).

Fixing this problem after the fact, what is often called refactoring, is hugely labour-intensive. Companies are contracted to do this kind of work. And they are multi-million dollar companies.

2) You're product's text doesn't fit into the flow of a translator.

When developers use text (think menus or notification messages) in a software product they do that using something called a resource file.  At least they are supposed to. Poor coders will embed their text (called strings) into their code. But the standard is putting that text into a separate resource file. These resource files can be large, complex and vary based on the coding language used. And they are often spread across the databases that software companies use to manage their code. (Something called a repository) That in itself is a problem, but it gets worse.

Far worse.

Resource files don't fit into the flow of a translator. Translators work by receiving a written document with context. e.g. A user guide for a fridge to be used in a kitchen. A resource file isn't a written document. It's a list of text used in a software program. It's barely decipherable to a software developer. It's almost always incomprehensible to a translator. Imagine receiving all the elements of a menu in the browser you're using to read this article. That's what's in a resource file. Now try and figure out the context, usage and correct translation for words like "transformations".

And when software companies translate their product, including text, and then make a change to a single word, that single word needs to be translated. Stories have been told of a translator getting a single word needing translation. This causes immense problems with translators.

3) Translation cannot keep up with development & deployment.

Software companies deploy code changes regularly. Large global companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon deploy code thousands of times a day.

A fast translation company will return translated content in three days.

These two workflows are fundamentally incompatible.

Something has to break. And it's usually the development velocity. That's the speed at which they develop and deliver software products to customers.

Software used to be delivered in boxes. Now it's delivered over the cloud.

That's the root cause of the collision. And software isn't going back into the box.

What's a globally-minded software company to do?

We don't have all the answers. But with the help of early adopters, we wrote a playbook.

Who is it For: Anyone who resonates with the problems above.

What is the playbook about? An overview of how software companies are solving some of these problems.


  • Waterfall Development -  the way it has been for a decade.
  • Along came Agile - Agile is much more than a process. Do you know why?
  • The coming collision in your company and how to avoid it.
  • The actual root cause of the problems in continuous localization.
  • The impact on continuous localization.
  • Solutions with hidden problems: 1) The Agile Afterthought and 2) The Shift Left Philosophy.
  • OnGlobal operating recommendations.
  • OnGlobal product recommendations.

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