Localization (software development)

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In software development, localization stands for the adaptation of content (e.g. websites ), processes , products and, in particular, computer programs ( software ) to the local market or usage area ( country , region or ethnic group) that is predominant in a specific geographically or ethnically defined sales area or area of ​​use ( country , region or ethnic group) linguistic and cultural conditions.

The English word for localization is localization (American / British English) or localization (British English) and is often abbreviated in software development with the numeronym l10n or L10n . The 10 is the number of letters left out. (Compare i18n for internationalization and internationalization .)

Work steps

In software development , localization primarily involves translating the software product into another language. The translations required as part of software localization are mostly processed with specialized CAT programs. In addition, date , time , currency and temperature information as well as units of measurement and conversion values ​​are also affected. The adaptation of the product and the product documentation to the legal requirements applicable at the place of use is also of decisive importance . In addition, audiovisual adjustments (e.g. taking into account the typical musical taste of the country) must be made. This also includes the adaptation of color palettes , fonts and character sets , audio and voice output as well as images (e.g. flags ). When using graphics, it is often important to adapt to the geographical and cultural conditions and the special customs and preferences of the respective users.

As a prerequisite for the localization of software , the internationalization must already be planned in the planning process and the software must be prepared. If this does not happen, a subsequent adjustment or localization is associated with increased expenditure of time and money.

Graphics in a help file are also localized. This is done by setting up the test software on a "clean system" and using a screenshot to reproduce the graphics in the respective language. These graphics are then inserted into the help so that the user can find the help graphic in the appropriate language.

Market and Provider

Many software manufacturers whose products are sold internationally develop internationalized software.

The software localization required following internationalization is carried out in some of the companies by their own departments, but is largely outsourced to specialized companies. The market for companies that offer software localization is very confusing. Companies of all sizes (LSP = Language Service Provider ) sometimes only offer translation services, and sometimes all of the work steps required for localization. Some of the companies only offer localization in one language (SLV = Single Language Vendor ), some of the companies take on the coordination in several languages ​​(MLV = Multi Language Vendor ). Further information on market participants is available from the Globalization and Localization Association and the Localization Industry Standards Association (see web links ).

Localization tools

Localization tools are programs that support the user in software localization. The basic steps are the extraction of the texts from a software (source file), the editing of the texts by the translator and the creation of a localized version (target file). When a new version of the source file has been developed, the localization tool recognizes the newly added texts so that the translator only has to translate them.

Additional functions such as the automatic finding of existing translations, export to other translation tools (e.g. translation memory, dialog editors for adapting the layout and checking for translation errors) are now offered by most tools.

A selection of the tools available on the market can be found, for example, in the article on computer-aided translation .


  • Bert Esselink: A Practical Guide to Localization. Benjamin, Amsterdam 2000, ISBN 1-58811-006-0
  • Klaus-Dirk Schmitz, Kirsten Wahle: Software localization. Stauffenburg-Verlag, Tübingen 2000, ISBN 3-86057-071-4
  • Detlef Reineke, Klaus-Dirk Schmitz: Introduction to software localization . Gunter NarrVerlag, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-8233-6156-2

Web links