For developers that use Babble-on to update their app localizations often, we’ve always made it easy to keep track of a single monthly invoice. Now we’re making that process even simpler. Whenever you add new translations for us to do, your project manager will send you a quick link to look over the updated invoice and give your approval. And of course, for developers who pay on a project-basis, you can pay directly from your phone too, using any payment method you like.
Approve or pay invoices with a tap
That’s right. Invoice links no longer require you to log in. Just tap the link from your phone and click “Approve invoice”. Your project manager will begin work right away and you can continue about your day. Something not right? Tap “Request changes” and a handy email box will pop up for you to tell us which items you want to add or remove.
New payment method: e-Check
In addition to credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin, we’ve also added payment by electronic check. That means you can pay instantly just by securely logging into your bank. The whole thing is handled by Stripe, the easiest and most secure payment provider around. The e-Check option works with the largest US banks (sorry, no foreign banks or credit unions at the moment).
Export your invoice data
Finally, we’ve added the ability to download all of your invoice data. From the billing page, look for the Export as CSV option. This is a comma-separated-values (CSV) file, which opens in Excel or any spreadsheet app, as well as in a simple text editor. It’s helpful for those year-end calculations you want to make about how much money you are spending on localization. Just don’t forget to calculate how much money you made from international users! We’re quite sure you’ll be pleased with the results.
Is there something else we can do? Let us know how to make invoicing easier for you.
Let’s face it: when users browse the App Store they do not always read your well-written app description, even if it is localized into their own language. But they almost always look at screenshots. These adver-images can and should be localized, too.
The limited amount of text above (or below) each screenshot is valuable real estate for persuading users to download your app.
Most of the developers we work with end up localizing their screenshots into dozens of languages. They send us a text file with those 5 to 10 phrases written out, and we translate them into each language. In the past, creating the graphic assets to go along with the translations has been a pain. But no more!
Launchkit.io Davinci makes localizing screenshots easy
Update: August 2017: Launchkit was bought by Google and shutdown. A similar service, Davinci, which still has a free tier, can be used instead.
We recently came across an amazing, free Web site called Screenshot Builder that makes it fast and simple to create screenshots for the iTunes App Store, both iPhone and iPad versions. With a little copy and paste, it functions equally well for localized screenshots. Say we start with a typical screenshot for a wonderful app we translated like JotNot Scanner+
Since we just finished localizing this app, we translated the screenshot texts too. And using the service, it’s as easy as this:
We even got that pretty white iPhone in the background! A shout-out to Brendan Mulligan for making this happen and for continued improvements still to come.
The other critical tip we can give you is to have the translators review your localized screenshots before you publish them. Each language has particular rules about how text flows between lines. In English it wouldn’t be acceptable to divide a long sentence like this:
JotNot puts a scanne– r in your pocket
While you may think that you can just flow the lines after any word, what would you do in cases like Chinese where there are no spaces to indicate the end of a word?
That’s a bit harder, eh? German has überlongishwords which are also hard to hyphenate without knowledge of the language.
We solved this problem for our developer friends a couple of years ago by introducing a “sanity check” right into the localization process. It looks something like this:
Developers can upload the localized screenshots based on the translations we’ve given them, separated out by language. We have each translator review the screenshots for their own language and flag them as “OK to publish”. If something is wrong or the new context causes a change of mind, we make revisions to the translations and export them again. Sometimes we discover something out of our control, like a text that was never in the strings file to begin with, or cut-off text that didn’t fit the UI. We report those issues so that developers can have them fixed, or work together to shorten the text, add new translations, or whatever is necessary. This screenshot review service is free for developers that localize with us.
It’s that final polish that separates Babble-on from other app localization companies out there. But you’ll have to see for yourself!
Xcode 6 brings XLIFF file format and new localization languages
While developers are poring over the Xcode 6 beta released at WWDC 2014, we’ve been getting questions about some of the big changes and improvements Apple made for localization in iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite. We’ll go in depth in these topics as we update our iOS App Localization Tutorial, but for now here is a recap of the biggest changes.
Apple touts that the new xliff file file format is an industry standard, which can be used by many localization tools. That’s true. Babble-on has been working with xliff for years, so we’re happy to see this change. (We can still work with your .strings files of course.) Essentially, xliff is just an xml file structured specifically for localization. Rather than having to go through the unintuitive process of using two, separate command-line functions to export your strings for localization, Apple now let’s you do it from the menu bar. Select Editor > Export For Localization
The exported xliff file is actually a combination of ALL your .strings files. Those .strings still exist in Xcode — you just won’t need to deal with them any more! Once we’ve translated the en.xliff file for you, you’ll get back a new one for each language: fr.xliff for French, es.xliff for Spanish, and so on. Import those into Xcode using the menu Editor > Import Localizations. Easy! Having just 1 file per language is a great improvement.
In case you do love the command line, Apple also introduced new commands to accomplish the same thing:
Preview localizations and pseudolocalizations in Interface Builder
Another new feature in Xcode 6 is the ability to view your localizations “live” in Interface Builder. This is a good way of checking that your interface doesn’t break or look sloppy in other languages that are more verbose than English (I’m looking at you, German). We hope more developers will take advantage of this tool to improve the design layout for international audiences. In fact, Xcode 6 even lets you preview these issues BEFORE you localize. There is a new Pseudolocalization option for Interface builder offering right-to-left and DOUBLE-length options.
Testing your app using Apple’s pseudolanguages
Click the target in the Run destination menu and choose Edit Scheme.
On the right, select Options.
Choose a pseudolocalization from the Application Language pop-up menu. Then hit the Close button.
Click Run to relaunch your app in the pseudolanguage.
Apple’s method is nice because it is built in. However, our developers have told us they like the pseudolocalization files we provide because you can view your texts as
Seeing your texts in a different script makes it easier to spot strings you have overlooked. Apple’s method simply CAPITALIZES words to indicate you forgot to localize them. We still offer free pseudolocalization, including for the XLIFF format, from our Web site.
The other big news for localization in Xcode 6 is the addition of new languages and locales. Specifically, Apple has added its own localizations for:
Hong Kong Chinese
In addition, Apple added keyboards for Bengali, Marathi, Urdu, Indian English, Filipino, Slovenian. That means that, even if iOS 8 is not translated into those languages yet, at least users in those countries can use their own alphabet or keyboard to type out messages.
For developers, the bigger news is the lifting of an old iOS restriction about languages and locales. You can now localize your app into ANY language (even Klingon) — not just those that Apple has done! This means that if you have a project for India, you can localize in Tamil and Bengali even though Apple doesn’t provide system-wide localizations for those languages. That puts iOS on par with Mac OS X in region capabilities. It also means Lord of the Rings fans can add Elvish to the list of languages they support, assuming they find an Elvish translator.
Babble-on can’t translate Elvish or Klingon, but we can help you with some of the other localizations you may want. Contact us!
I like to answer the phone for my translation business, and that leads to some repetitive question and answers, but also excellent insight into the people who use my services. 99% of clients who call me are great — and grateful — for honest and straightforward answers. I give them a fair price and an accurate time estimate in which I can guarantee delivery on time (often it arrives earlier, but I like to under-promise and over-deliver).
Then, there are the outliers—the calls every translator dreads to receive. For instance:
“Hi, I need my book translated.”
Surprising, at least to me, are the number of calls I receive asking me to translate a book. I would love to begin a book translation, especially if it is an author I love, or a children’s book. Inevitably, however, a few more details emerge:
Shockingly, the caller wrote the book himself or herself.
It’s unfathomably long — at least 100,000 words if not 300,000.
There is no publishing deal in place — for any language.
The total budget is smaller than my monthly utility bill.
The person needs it ASAP — no, wait a sec’ — make that next Monday.
I’m a bit of a writer myself, so I understand the temptation to publish and the lure of the pen (or laptop). For the same reason, I also know how long it takes to come up with, and subsequently type out, 100,000 or more words. It boggles my mind that the calls I’ve received often expect the translation to take less time than it might to simply retype the book, and that, when I make the calculation for budget/time, it comes out to something like $0.85/hour. That’s 1/10 the minimum wage in San Francisco.
“Hi again, I’ll pay you with proceeds from my book sales.”
This followup call is my least favorite. The unrealistic budget and time allotment has failed to hook any translator in the sea. After a brief pause following the crushing reality of time and space required to do work, the author has entered again into a mind distortion field. He (or she, publishingitis affect both genders equally) has reemerged with a, seemingly, brilliant solution: pay with hypothetical future proceeds on the publication of a translation of a book that has never been published and may never be.
At this point, I still try to be polite and graciously decline. That doesn’t work. I’m quoted an outrageously high figure which supposedly corresponds to my potential virtually-guaranteed-not-to-be-missed-for-anything royalty figure in the not-to-distant future. It’s not that the offer isn’t flattering, I say, it’s just that I have so many other obligations.
And then another client calls on the other line—thank you! thank you! thank you!—I regretfully end the call with the budding author and talk to another potential client who restores my faith in all that is true and good.
“Hi, I need to get something notarized.”
“Well, it’s not exactly what I do, but thank you for the call. You really saved me.”