Should you do the screenshots internally or rely on a vendor?

Speaking of software localisations, one of the pain points in the process is capturing localized images of the software (dialog boxes, menus, etc) for use in the documentation. To capture these screens, you first must have the user interface text strings localised into a number of non-native languages, and then incorporate these new languages in the software. Then ‘someone’ must go through the documentation and capture screens of the software in each of the languages. It is often assumed that the someone should be a member of the development team that built the software; but this isn’t always the case. Localisation vendors offer this service if you can provide them with the software and a script for creating the correct scenarios. The decision, of course, should be based on economics. Here are a few things that feed into the costs.

  1. Can a build of the software be easily installed at the translation vendor?
    If it takes day to install and configure your software appropriately for capturing screens with dongles, license keys, etc, you’d better quantify this cost.
  2. Is it easy to change languages in the software?
    Typically the answer is yes, but if No this could be costly with a vendor doing the work.
  3. Does the software need a localized operating system to display the translated user interface correctly?
    Often Asian languages don’t display properly in software that isn’t running under a localized operating system. In my experience, most development teams don’t run localized operating systems for viewing and testing translations.
  4. Can you create a simple script and provide sample files to produce the desired results?
    A translation vendor needs a script and sample files so they can properly capture the screens. It takes time to create this. Estimate how much and calculate the cost.
  5. Who will capture the screens on your development team?
    Typically this will be a technical writer, tester, or developer. Calculate the cost of their time.

As you might have already guessed, keeping screen captures in documentation to an absolute minimum will have a significant effect on your translation costs.

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