Translating/localizing apps: how

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by Mr. Brown, May 15, 2009.

  1. Mr. Brown macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2008
    I was wondering how developers (yes, you) translate their apps. Do you use strings files and how do you work with translators? Are you paying per app or by word count? Do translators need Xcode and programming skills? Thanks in advance.
  2. kainjow Moderator emeritus


    Jun 15, 2000
    You might want to read through Internationalization Programming Topics

    If you're using nibs that need localizing, then yes the localizers need Xcode installed. Strings files are easy to use as they are just UTF-16 text files, so TextEdit will do fine.

    I don't have any information on the financial side, although in the past I have had plenty of people donate localized files for my Mac apps :)
  3. sjalfr macrumors newbie


    Sep 26, 2008
    Thin air


    I'm an iPhone app translator/localizer and here is how I go about localizing iPhone apps. Since I am a freelancer, I only deal with independant developers and the actual tranlsation process depends a lot on how much everyone is willing/able to do.

    For example, some developers will send me excel or doc files filled with all the strings (including the nib files ones) and the accompanying comments so I can place the short sentences in context. Then they'll just replace the strings themselves. If they are unfamiliar with the language, I test the app on the simulator to make sure buttons and text fields are big enough and that the strings were actually translated within the right context. Dates and number formats have to be checked too (check out these two blog entries to get an idea of the work involved : and

    I have the iPhone SDK installed, so I can work directly into the app and resize the buttons, etc., but generally, if you've done your homework, the interface should allow for language expansion (up to 200% for some languages) and the localizer would only need the string files. Because the iPhone nibs are compiled, the localizer cannot extract the strings with the usual software such as iLocalize or AppleGlot. You have to do it or turn over your files to a complete stranger ;-)

    As for the cost, some translators will charge a per word rate (with a minimum fee of 20 to 30$ per string file) for the actual translation, and an hourly fee for testing. Others will charge an hourly fee for everything. Some may even asked for a share of the profits! But most likely it will be a per word fee based on the complexity of your wording.

    Since iPhone apps don't usually have that many strings, gathering all of them in one file will most likely save you money. Last week I translated four apps all within one file, so the developer did not have to pay a minimum fee for a 50-word app.

    Hope this helps!
  4. Mr. Brown thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 15, 2008

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