World Wide App part 2: Translation

In a previous article I talked about preparing an app for translation. With that process completed I decided to jump right in and start translating Gallery Grabber QED into different languages. This is clearly crazy, for me, a mere developer with no special language skills or training.

The problem is, as a lone Indie developer, I don’t have a budget for anything. I do have time though, and an overzealous spirit. So I decided to see if I could at least make a start by translating the app myself. Then, maybe, some people who speak these languages natively (could this be you?) – would give me some feedback or advice on where I’ve made mistakes.

The Translation Files

After an app has been prepared for Internationalization, the Apple development environment (Xcode) allows the developer to create a set of files that they can hand over to a (preferably professional) translator. Some of these files contain structured content similar to this:

<trans-unit id="hZm-L7-mxU.title">
   <source>Play 'Morse' sound when a link is added</source>
   <target>Play 'Morse' sound when a link is added</target
   <note>Used on the General pane in Preferences for the audio checkbox</note>

The translator then goes through this file and replaces the text between the starting target tag <target> and the matching end target tag </target> with the appropriate text for their own language.

The translator returns the files. And the developer imports the changes back into the app using Xcode.

My Translation Process

With my limited skills I developed some translation strategies…

Where there was the same text in another app (Safari for instance), I used the same translation that app uses.

When I couldn’t find a matching text. I used Google Translate. I didn’t rely on Google Translate getting the correct translation first time. I would get Google to translate the text back into English for me – to see if there was a change in meaning. Sometimes I would translate back and forth several times. If this changed the meaning too much, I would then try some alternative text with the same or similar meaning.

On top of this I sometimes did further searching to see if there were other sites that had a better or alternative translation.

I’ve done this for Spanish, French, German, Italian and Chinese. I have no idea how well I have done.


If we use the example from earlier this is the sort of thing I produced:


<target>Reproducir «Morse» sonido cuando se agrega un enlace</target>


<target>Jouer le son « Morse » quand un lien est ajouté</target>


<target>Spielen Sie Morse-Sound, wenn ein Weblink hinzugefügt wird</target>


<target>Riproduci l'audio «Morse» quando viene aggiunto un collegamento</target>

Can You Help?

If you are a native speakers of Spanish, French, German, Italian or Chinese who would like to help a poor App Developer – could you get in touch? If you wish I can send you the translation text files.

If you help, you can have your name added to the Gallery Grabber QED about panel.

Please provide any feedback via Twitter: @DaveAppDev.

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