Helping Translators Understand Your App

It is a lot more difficult for a translator to get the feel of an app just from its strings. Often the text is just lines and lines of commands such as “OK” or “Review Later!”, with the odd error message, “Oops! We were unable to communicate with Facebook”. Compare this to an app store description which is (hopefully) self-fulfilling in getting the point across.


You can help

There are several things you as a developer can do to make app translation a whole lot easier for the native speaker, whether they are a user, localization agency or french speaking ex-girlfriend.

The first: Comments. When converting your strings to NSLocalizedString (see here) you are given the opportunity to add comments. Make them descriptive, tell the translator where the string appears and why it’s there.

The second: Screenshots. A picture is worth a thousand words and screenshots help immensely. Translators can usually work out the context of the app from a few screenshots and also the space limitations they have when translating. Taking screenshots is easy, check out how on iOS here and Mac OS here.

Finally, consider adding the translator to your provisioning profile and sending them the app. It’s not always easy, some translators won’t really know their way around Xcode Organizer or the iPhone Configuration Utility, but every good app localization agency should be able to handle that for you. Otherwise, send them to our KB article here, explaining how to test an app on your own device.

Of course, if your app is already available online, send them a promo code or NFR version.

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