Localization of any product is quite common now days with fast growing internet which has spread its wings across all continents including not only developed countries but even developing and under developed countries. In fact going by the market trends, developing and under developed countries are moving up the ladder much faster in terms of usage of localized products as compared to the developed countries. As more and more products are being localized the importance for Localization Testing Services raises.
Recent study shows that the languages that are widely spoken in world include: Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu German, Spanish, French, Chinese and Persian etc. Middle East languages include Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Assyrian, Kurdish and Hebrew. Arabic and Hebrew are the most common languages that are spoken across Middle Eastern countries. These languages are considered a€?bi-directionala€? languages. Bi-directional languages, also referred to as a€?BiDia€?, refer to text input and output that uses a mix of Latin (usually English or French) text along with the target language. Arabic and Hebrew are the primary BiDi languages, but they also include Farsi, Urdu, and other languages using right-to-left (RTL) script. Bi-directional writing system, are written in a form known as right-to-left (RTL), in which writing begins at the right-hand side of a page and concludes at the left-hand side. This is different from the left-to-right (LTR) direction used by most languages in the world.
Challenges with BiDi Languages:-The following are the common challenges that would be faced while trying to localize the Product in BiDi languages:-
Lack of Terminologies: The demand for translation from English to BiDi languages is relatively recent thus the terminologies or vocabulary is somewhat deficient in technical and scientific terms.
Rich Language: Arabic in particular is a very rich language in terms of dialect, accent, styles etc. Thus the involvement or the dependency of the Linguistic experts is much more in Localization Testing.
Coining of Phrases: Few technical terms are translated through transliteration and correlation becomes an issue.
Bi-Directional Writing and Display: Since BiDi languages are written in the form known as RTL, this affects the basic layout and design of the websites. For instance, the order of table columns would reverse and so would be the meaning of the images.
Symmetric Swapping: Some characters, such as the greater-than sign or a left parenthesis, have an implied directional meaning. Within a text segment that is presented from right to left, these characters must be replaced to ensure that the correct meaning is preserved.
Other Issues: The other common issues would be contextual analysis, alternate numeric display, Hijri dates, rendering and shaping, character extending for justified text, neutral characters etc..
What exactly Localization Testing Services for Bi-Directional Languages cover:-
a€?Layout: A lot of emphasis should be give on the layout for BiDi languages as they are laid out in RTL order with the exception of the numbers which are laid out in LTR order like English.
a€?Contextual Analysis: Though this would be not be that important with respect to the Localization testing in particular but forms an important part of the entire Localization process.
a€?Date, Time and Currency Formats: Middle Eastern Countries use both Gregorian (Western) and Hijri (Islamic) dates. Care should be taken as to providing an option to display the date in either Gregorian or Hijri formats. Moreover it is important that the locale is taken into consideration when referring to the date formats.
a€?Hot Keys: Since coining of phrases is quite common, attention should be given with respect to testing of Hot Keys as they change when the corresponding string is translated in target language i.e. BiDi languages
a€?ImageTable Orientation: Particular attention is required in case of photos and images as sometimes due to the Bi-Directional writings, these images may be misleading i.e. instead of pointing to the text in the document, it may point to the outer edge of the page. So these objects should be minutely tested
a€?Do Directional Icons: Do Directional icons (Prev, Next) make sense in RTL context. For example, arrow icons need to be reversed.
a€?Truncation: As BiDi languages are rich in text and there is lack of technical and scientific terms, a lot of alignment bugs and truncation issues can be encountered.
Road Ahead:-It is evident that Localization Testing Services are in great demand. With the Middle Eastern Countries getting quite visible in the world map, they have become major attraction for the most reputed IT companies in the world. We are still new in this hemisphere but it would not take long before we are masters of this as well. With experience comes knowledge and if we have knowledge of common issues and challenges in advance we will be able to test Localized software efficiently.