An overview of software localization and i18n tools (2021)
16 min read
As a developer, you have pretty extensive software internationalization options, language localization, and phrase translation solutions. But when it comes to decision making, the wide variety makes it harder to make a qualified decision on which solution is the best for you and your project. How could one navigate in such a plethora of options?
Let's take a closer look at it!
🎌 Difference between internationalization and localization
Internationalization (i18n) is the preparation of software for multilingual support. Localization (l10n) is the process of aligning internationalized software with particular cultures' needs, whether you align language, meanings, values, beliefs, or visual code.
🤔 Many factors coming into the decision process
- Technologic compatibility
- Service accessibility
- Service availability
- Technical debt
- User experience
- Easiness of adoption and maintenance
- Business compliance
- Business model/pricing policy
🛠️ Types of software i18n&l10n&t9n solutions
- i18n frameworks, formats
- language technology providers
- language service providers
- software localization services
🗃️ i18n frameworks, formats, and language technology providers
There are multiple i18n frameworks and formats worldwide you can use for your software internationalization project. All of them have some specialties.
- XLIFF file format
- PO file format
- Android XML
- Flutter Arb
- Multilingual JSON
- iOS .strings, .stringsdict, .plist
- Java properties
And many more, which you can find on the Localazy Integrations page. If you think something is missing, kindly let us know, and we will make sure Localazy supports your platform.
Lost in localizable file format conversions?
Activate the Format Conversions feature and seamlessly output your translations in many different formats. Format conversions come especially handy when you are developing your app simultaneously on multiple platforms or when you need to share texts between the front-end and back-end of your project.
Once you activate the Format Conversions feature, you can start using new commands in the Localazy CLI tool to convert your localizable files into different formats. Make it a part of your workflow and automate file format conversions to output your translations in many different formats seamlessly.
Language technology providers
The language technology provider will enable you to use their technology to translate your software; however, they will most probably not offer complete localization services, including phrase translations. It is then only your responsibility to implement the technology and use it to localize your software projects.
Language service providers
Language service providers usually provide you with the underlying technology. Still, their core business is preferably in the localization services itself - they help you translate phrases using professional translators, provide you with cultural expertise, and so on. LSPs are, by principle, more expensive because there is an increased portion of human work, and technology is just a part of the workflow. You may still want to check if your LSP uses proper technology, not adding pennies to your bill because of tech debt and non-effective workflows.
Software localization services
Highly specialized providers focused on software. While language tech and service providers can offer you to localize software and content in general, software localization services dedicate themselves to the SW development vertical. They are thus highly qualified for your kind of job, frequently from i18n to l10n of user interfaces.
Going further in the software category
The software localization category can go even further. Notably, there are companies focused on the gaming industry, such as Keyword Studio. And there are companies focused on single developers and small digital teams, such as Localazy. If you want to localize your software as an expert, but enterprise solutions are not a cup of your coffee, give us a try.
Combined solutions / A lá carte
Within the market, you can, of course, find combined / A lá carte solutions for your project. Just make your choice of the service you need and order. Do you need only technology? Or do you need just translations? Or maybe both?
📌 List of i18n/l10n/t9n services and frameworks
Let's dive into the actual tools you can use for localization and translation management. Which one should you pick? That depends on your budget, goals, expectations, and the size of your team and project. Allow us to introduce some of them in the following section.
Which localization tool is the best? You guessed it. 😎 Obviously, it's Localazy! 😀 Why?
By developers, for developers
Localazy is a developer-friendly automated localization platform. With the powerful CLI tool and comprehensive integrations, any developer can localize their project conveniently.
- See the list of available integrations and supported file formats
- Learn how to integrate Localazy into your project
Flexible and affordable pricing
You can use Localazy for free and enjoy all core localization features without any recurring payments. Zero compromises, unlimited localization features.
The free plan includes:
- Unlimited apps
- Unlimited languages & translations
- Unlimited machine translations
- All integrations & formats
- 200 managed source phrases
Localazy offers affordable plans suitable for single developers and bigger teams alike.
- See our pricing
Instant translations with ShareTM technology
We are developers; we share our code, we cooperate, share our knowledge and libraries. We have this in our DNA. It saves us time and money; it helps us to move forward faster and produce better software. ShareTM is what makes Localazy unique and different from other translation platforms.
ShareTM is a pro-active translation memory that translates your app automatically to new languages. It works like magic!
Discover advanced features that make translating and maintaining your project even more enjoyable.
- Connected Apps share translations across backend and frontend, from Android to iOS, or anything else you would like. Many-to-many translation shared memory.
- Format Conversions allow you to convert translated files between different formats.
- Release Tags allow you to release translation updates iteratively only when you want. Test translations on stage before pushing to production.
- Additional MT will give you three other powerful machine translation engine suggestions to help you make more accurate translations and unlock other features.
Translation on auto-pilot
Focus on what's important and use Virtual Translator (VT) to automatically translate and review your phrases to selected languages. Choose between human-assisted machine translation or professional translations, and we will handle everything from there!
Unique review process
Our review process is a pro-active tool that helps you verify translations and keep track of all changes that happened on Localazy while you spent your precious time making your product better.
The primary function of the review process is to help you with verifying new translations from your contributors. You can accept or reject translations or mark them as acceptable but not good enough, etc.
As an addition to the approve/reject mechanism, you can directly edit the suggested translation and alter it. That's extremely useful for minor changes. The translation may be perfect but with a small issue such as a missing exclamation mark or typo, which is something you can quickly fix on your own.
Clean and user-friendly UI
Even though software developers might be fairly used to encountering obscure tools and outdated interfaces, we strive to make all of our users feel at home and pay great attention to UX and design our interfaces thoughtfully.
Clean UI displaying all of the important information with minimal clutter will help you focus better and get things done quickly.
- Read a review of Localazy UI by an experienced translator Michał Tosza
Stellar support and community engagement
Our users frequently mention our dedication to customer support and fast response times in their reviews and testimonials. Please chat with us whenever you have a question or encounter an issue on your localization journey! We are here to help. 😊
We also love to communicate with our users and involve them in the development process. Whether we ask for feedback, invite them to test new features early, or just exchange banter in the forum, we are always happy to talk!
CDN and OTA updates
Our CDN allows you to use translated files directly in your project without needing to rebuild and publish. Just get the link, and you won't have to worry about updates of translations.
Android developers can integrate our Gradle plugin that will do the work for them. Integrate Localazy OTA updates without a single change of your source code.
Other popular tools
The following section will list some of the other most popular translation management platforms for software developers. They are listed in no particular order, and you can compare each with Localazy to see who will fit your needs better.
Trusted by prominent brands like Revolut, Daimler, and TESCO, Lokalise is without a doubt a well-established tool for localization and translation management. A great variety of valuable features such as real-time translations for support tickets and in-context editing makes Lokalise an excellent choice for teams requiring distinct localization approaches in their daily operations.
But, even though Lokalise offers a 14-day trial to test out their Enterprise plan, with the Start plan starting at 90 dollars (billed annually), Lokalise is one of the pricier options out there.
Localazy offers core localization features for free up to 200 phrases, why not give us a shot?
Smartling is considered a market leader in the computer-assisted translation field. With customers like Shopify, Pinterest, Vimeo, and other big names, we can only agree that it is a valid assumption. Smartling emphasizes the human aspect of CAT and prides itself in connecting customers directly with their translators. Smartling also offers a robust infrastructure and a unique approach to translation performance tracking.
However, the pricing is not transparent, so you can't know how much Smartling will cost you without asking them first. Becoming a part of Smartling might prove expensive, but their linguistic asset management services look promising in increasing translation quality control for any language.
Localazy offers a transparent pricing model with many core features free.
Previously known as PhraseApp, Phrase.com is an established all-in-one software localization platform with many features for the whole team. The idea of the Phrase platform is centered around translation workflow management and different roles employed in the process.
However, Phrase is not outfitted with machine translations (MT), so you are either on your own, or you can order professional translation services on the platform. Phrase allows a 14-day trial, and the Basic plan starts at 23 dollars a month at the date of publishing this post.
Localazy offers machine translations for all users to speed up the process and minimize the localization headache.
AppLanga is an online translation management platform that specializes in the localization of native mobile apps and games. AppLanga offers its' own SDK, integration with leading platforms for mobile app development, in-context editor, and OTA updates to speed up the delivery of localization changes to users.
There is no phrase limit, and you can even use AppLanga free of charge for a small project with under 1000 MAU (monthly active users). To access more features such as glossary and invite team members, you have to upgrade to the Pro plan, which is 500 dollars per month.
With Localazy, you can use the Glossary and invite your teammates to help you with translation even on the free plan!
🟢 Localise.biz (Loco)
Loco is a simple platform for translation management supporting 14 file formats. With the free plan, you can translate two projects into up to 10 languages. Loco is an affordable option with the Pro plan starting at only 6 dollars a month, and you can increase the limit with additional monthly charges. You can also automate the distribution of localization files with the Loco API.
However, Loco does not offer any translation services or MT engines, and you have to handle the translations on your own. Loco is also available as a free WordPress plugin for a user-friendly localization of themes and plugins, making it perfect for indie WordPress developers or handy site owners who are looking for a free option to localize their WordPress site.
With Localazy, you can set up the Virtual Translator to translate your apps or use machine translations. On top of that we don't limit the number of projects or languages!
Transifex is a cloud-based localization platform trusted by some of the world's tech leaders such as Atlassian, Trello, or Disqus, to name a few. Transifex offers a variety of integrations not only for developers but for designers, support platforms, and e-commerce solutions as well. With Transifex, you can also manage localization workflows, order professional translations and view comprehensive reports to measure your efforts.
You can try Transifex for free. The Basic plan starts at $70 / month and offers up to 50,000 words, unlimited projects, and essential tools to start localizing your project. However, the initial setup might not be the easiest out there, according to some reviews.
Integrate Localazy in minutes with our developer friendly CLI tool and try Localazy for free.
Compare Transifex vs. Localazy
Focusing on professional translation delivery between over 400 language pairs, ICanLocalize is a great choice for one-time projects. They also offer transparent pricing with rates that start at 0.09 USD per word and no additional storage fees. Since ICanLocalize is the company behind the WPML plugin for WordPress, using their services for translating WordPress websites should be easy.
Translating Android or iOS apps is possible with ICanLocalize too, but you have to upload files manually every time you make a change in your project, which means you must add an extra step into your workflow. You can also upload any documents for translation, and with their Instant translation service, translating short texts is possible within minutes for common language pairs.
You can fully automate the localization process with Localazy and forget about handling files manually thanks to our CLI, and CDN.
OneSky offers an end-to-end localization solution with 50+ Languages, 1,000+ Translators, and 19 compatible file formats. OneSky is an established platform that has helped many companies localize their mobile apps and games, including HubSpot, Ubisoft, and Microsoft. Pricing at OneSky is pay per word, starting at $0.04 for translation and $0.05 for review, and offers only translators with technical experience and industry-specific knowledge suitable for your project.
Additionally, OneSky offers App Store Integration for description translation and On-Device Testing to ensure your UI won't break in other language versions, emphasizing their specialization in apps and games.
Localazy offers a wider variety of approaches to the localization process. You can translate your apps on your own, invite volunteers or order the Virtual Translator. We don't push you to pay per translated word if you don't want to!
Compare OneSkyApp vs. Localazy
i18nexus allows you to quickly edit, automate, and manage your translations and connect them to your website, app, or video game with the i18next framework. i18next is a flexible JSON approach that works with all modern tech stacks, including libraries for React, Angular, Node, iOS, Ruby on Rails... i18next is one of the top open-source internationalization frameworks and Localazy supports i18next as well!
i18nexus translates your app using Google Translate immediately, but you have to source professional translators yourself and invite them to i18nexus if you want to localize your app professionally. The free plan is quite generous, offering up to 500 strings for free; the basic plan (up to 3000 strings) starts at $14 / mo.
Localazy allows you to automate your i18next project localization and order professional translators when you are ready. You can fully focus on development and improvement of your software, while Localazy handles the rest for you!
Lingoport is a full-service solution that provides a broad range of software internationalization services customized to fit your release goals, technologies, engineering resources, and budget. Established in 2001, Lingoport is trusted by the world's largest software companies, including Snapchat, VISA, or Dell.
Lingoport Suite consists of three products: Globalyzer, Localyzer, and Localyzer QA that work together to support i18n, L10n, and QA. All Lingoport Suite products offer various license choices ranging from cloud hosting, private cloud installation, and on-premise installation. On the other hand, you can't easily find the pricing models for any of the options offered by Lingoport, so you would have to contact them with your specific case.
Automate the localization of your project with Localazy, start for free and upgrade when you need. Deliver your translations via our CDN or OTA updates, and don't waste time on complicated setup and maintenance.
🟡 GitLocalize (part of Alconost)
Aimed at single developers and small teams, GitLocalize is a free and simple-to-use translation management tool that integrates directly with your GitHub repository. GitLocalize tracks changes in your repository and pulls them into the project. Translations are then sent to the repository via a pull request.
Setup is easy, and translations can be managed statically on a file level and compared to the original by segment. Since the tool is free, you shouldn't expect any built-in machine translation help or professional translation services, so this important part of the localization process has to be sourced elsewhere.
Localazy can do the same as GitLocalize and much more for you, e.g.:
- translate your project with machine translations and ShareTM,
- fully automate the localization process with the Virtual Translator
- deliver translations to your users via CDN...
Babble-on is an expert team of native translators and writers. With their app localization service, you can have your app translated professionally into any language of your choice. Babble-on supports around 20 file formats. You can sync via Github or Bitbucket or send them the latest export of your strings to get your translated files back in a few days.
Babble-on can handle the whole process for you, or you can join their translation system and participate by adding context & screenshots, answer translators' questions, and remove texts you don't want to translate. Pay $0.21 per word, with zero monthly fees. Babble-on can also help you with your app descriptions and press releases in different languages.
With Localazy, you can translate your apps on your own with the help of machine translation engines, invite volunteers or order the Virtual Translator to translate your project automatically and pro-actively.
Locize is a translation management system with a variety of features built by the creators of i18next. You'll find features aimed at teams, contributors, and managers, as well as single developers + other essential tools for efficient translation management. Locize also offers professional translations, and machine translations are included within the system as well.
On top of that, you can translate your website directly from your browser with their InContext Editing tool. Locize employs a variable "pay as you go" pricing model that might be hard to understand at first, and the UI might seem cluttered for some users, but you can try a 14-day trial to see if Locize is what you are looking for.
Translate your app comfortably and enjoy the clean and user-friendly interface of Localazy. Also, please don't get lost in pricing calculations, take a look at our transparent and easy to understand pricing ;-)
This list is not exhaustive, if you would like to see a comparison with your current platform or service not included in the list, kindly let us know. ;-)
✔️ In conclusion
We hope this article helped serve as a broad overview of solutions available for software localization and translation management.
At Localazy, we are working very hard to become the go-to option for software developers in need of a localization platform. We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy software in their native language. We want to bring together developers, users & translators that believe in the same thing and provide them with an effortless way of translating their projects.
We value the feedback of our current or potential users. Whether you are a developer or freelance translator, join our forum and let us know what you think!
💖 Why developers love Localazy?
Whether you are a single developer or an agency, you can rely on Localazy when it comes to i18n & l10n! Read our testimonials!