3 Translation Programs for Localizers: Pros and Cons 

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The success of a localization depends directly on translation quality, which is why we are constantly searching for useful translation tools to make our work easier. Today we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the software that our translators and project managers use. Which program makes it easiest to integrate a glossary and calculate statistics? Is it worth it for small companies to spend money on licenses for translators? Which tool allows you to check a finished translation right in a game’s interface?

Lokalise

Lokalise is a cloud service, which immediately earns it a thumbs-up since it has no additional tech requirements. You can assign tasks to any contractor regardless of what operating system they use. Unfortunately, not all desktop programs work on macOS, but in the case of Lokalise, that’s not a problem: translators can work on tasks using any device, even a smartphone.

Lokalise’s intuitive interface makes life much easier for translators and PMs. You can compare one segment of text in multiple languages at the same time and immediately assess how well the translations conform to the style guide, checking that the correct terms have been used, all the tags are in place, the right words are capitalized, and the string length fits the character limit. The issue of string length is especially important when dealing with most Asian languages since their characters are wider than Latin letters. Lokalise allows you to estimate the length of the finished translation visually if specific limits were not established in advance.

You can compare translations of the same string in several languages at the same time.

The main advantage of Lokalise for us in particular is the ability to immediately see what the translation will look like in the game itself. This feature, called in-context editing, superimposes the translation over the user interface. This is very convenient when you want to check that the words fit correctly in their designated borders, ensuring that letters don’t end up outside the boundaries of buttons and look like you want them to. It’s worth mentioning that this feature can’t be used without advance preparation: translators must be familiar with the functionality, and the app has to be equipped with special markup that lets the program know where to put the text.

This is what Lokalise’s in-context editing feature looks like.

Lokalise offers more than 40 integrations making it flexible to fit into any product development workflow. If you want, you can quickly integrate the latest versions of the translation with a code repository, like GitHub, Gitlab,  Bitbucket, and Azure Repos. This means you won’t have to waste time on version control since all the data and files you need are stored in the cloud and accessible to members of the development team. With the right approach, this enables you to interact with a contractor as if you have your own in-house localization department.

You can integrate the latest translation versions with GitHub to simplify your workflow.

It’s critical that we have the ability to conveniently manage a translation into multiple languages at once: from Russian to English, and from English to European and Asian languages. Each language has its own project, so translators only see the part of the job that is assigned to them, know exactly how many words they have left to translate, and don’t get in one another’s way.

Each translator has their own project where only their portion of the work is displayed.

One improvement area for Lokalise is statistics. There is no way to count repetitions of almost identical strings, like segments that differ by only a single word. For some projects, this statistical information can be useful, but it is not yet possible to compile it in Lokalise. Yet, repetitions could be handled with a duplicate finder

Cost:

The price of plans ranges from $90 to $435, but the cheapest option does not include an integrated glossary or translation memory, leaving it to the editor to monitor consistency.

Who it’s good for:

Lokalise is a good option for companies that want to hit the ground running and quickly have translators signed in and ready to start working on specific translations. And, while you will avoid overcomplicated and expensive set-up and onboarding, it will still offer the necessary flexibility when you scale toward more complicated workflows. If that describes you, then Lokalise is an optimal solution that provides flexible localization and a decent balance between cost and quality. 

memoQ

memoQ started off as a desktop program, but over time developed a cloud app for online translation work. We’ll break down both versions and talk about which one we prefer. 

Desktop

The desktop version of memoQ is one of the most powerful tools for translators. First and foremost, the program allows you to import files in practically any format, from ordinary .xlsx and .txt to .json and .html. Even if you need to do a translation in a unique homemade format, memoQ can process it without anything getting lost.

Working with files in memoQ is really convenient because it offers a big feature set for reviewing translations and assuring quality. The software makes it easy to monitor consistency, term usage, and concordance with previous translations.

memoQ highlights a term if it is in the glossary and displays previous translations of similar segments. This is precisely what distinguishes memoQ from many other translation programs: it may not have the most modern interface, but it does make it possible ensure excellent translation quality and doesn’t require you jump through hoops to compile statistics. The only drawback of memoQ is that it doesn’t provide a way to load text into an app or a game’s interface. If you need that kind of toolset, we recommend looking at Lokalise.

Glossary terms are conveniently highlighted while translating. 

Before work on the translation begins, it’s a breeze for PMs to assign tasks to translators from a database. However, PMs must also assign each translator a separate license and then oversee access. Each new license costs $40 for a monthly subscription or $720 for a lifetime purchase. As a result, this option may prove to be expensive for companies that do not have a big budget. In addition, you have to invest in your hardware because the software is demanding and places a major load on your computer when it is processing big files.

Cost:

memoQ’s pricing is fundamentally different from that of other CAT programs. For working in memoQ to be convenient, you must purchase licenses for translators and PMs and pay to rent a server. Each license costs significantly more than a Crowdin or Lokalise license, so it is not quite right to compare cloud solutions to desktop versions in terms of expenses. However, if you want to implement a system like memoQ, be ready to pay at least $200 a month.

Who it’s good for:

The desktop version of memoQ is an option for companies who can invest in a translation program and train their employees to use it. You likely won’t be able to dive right in and start working—the interface takes some getting used to. However, its feature set is truly impressive, so if you take the time to get the hang of it, you’ll be happy with the results.

Cloud version

Unlike the desktop application, the cloud version of memoQ is not very flexible: it allows you to do translating and editing, but it doesn’t have the full functionality of its “older brother.” It lacks some features related to automated translation checks and localization management, such as the separate editor for translation memories and term bases, locking tags, and advanced filters.

This is the translation view in memoQ’s cloud version. 

In terms of management functionality, the cloud version relies directly on the desktop application: you have to go back to the installed program to complete many actions. The online version is the pared-down option, so using it will only be convenient if independent solutions are added to it or you have a lot of similar tasks for which a localization workflow is already in place.

Cost:

You can use the cloud version as long as you subscribe to at least one translator license for $40 a month.

Who it’s good for:

At present, we prefer the classic desktop version that memoQ started with. However, the cloud version makes it possible to work with freelancers who cannot afford the desktop application. It enables you to circumvent hardware or operating system restrictions since the desktop program only works on Windows.

Crowdin

Crowdin offers many of the same features as memoQ, except they also work online. It has the option to incorporate a glossary, a flawless translation memory, and a user-friendly interface.

It doesn’t take very long to get used to Crowdin’s interface.

Project managers, however, will have trouble with Crowdin because it makes access sharing difficult. Sometimes you only want to allow the translator to edit their specific file and strings, but it is not possible to implement these restrictions on Crowdin. In our case, the PM is forced to keep an extra close eye on what translators are working on to make sure there is no confusion.

One tool worthy of special attention is pseudo-localization. You can connect Crowdin directly to a website to edit it in real time. In addition, it gives you the ability to see how text will look in Word or Excel. You can make changes in the program, and they will automatically be entered into your document while you preview it in an adjacent window.

You can edit text directly on a website using the pseudo-localization feature.

When it comes to instantly previewing the translation in a game’s UI, Lokalise still comes out on top. You can export a translation from Crowdin, but to check it in the app, you will have to mess around with the installation files and unpacking them, which is far from fast or convenient. 

Cost:

In terms of price, Crowdin is somewhere in between Lokalise and memoQ. The cost for an organization ranges from $125 to $375 a month depending on the number of segments for translation.

Who it’s good for:

This option is good for teams who are not ready to establish a full-fledged localization process on their own but want to get their files translated quickly. It may take you more time to thoroughly review translations and manage users in Crowdin than in Lokalise. Still, the price is more economical than that of memoQ, which would require you to fork over a formidable four-figure sum.

Stay tuned for more articles about localizing into different languages, watch interviews with industry professionals, and read about case studies of real projects, all on our blog.

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