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Global, yet local

An insight into how we translate and maintain Coloride in nine languages
Sandra Albers
Product Manager

Localisation is an important topic of discussion for global companies, such as Swiss Re and for products like Coloride, which leverage on the power of central development teams and local sales forces to serve the needs of insurance companies and their partners around the world. While English is a good starting point, it is very often not the applicable language. Building a connection between the user and an app aimed at providing driving tips in order to reduce risk behind the steering wheel is key, and this can only happen in the driver’s native language. It is for this very reason that we have made Coloride available in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Chinese and Arabic.

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How did everything begin?

When we started developing Coloride in 2016, we only supported German and English. As we added features, the number of text strings increased sizeably. To manage this professionally, we looked for an off-the-shelf solution to be integrated into our development environment, taking care of all our available texts and their translations. This gave our product and app development teams greater peace of mind. Previously, they had been managing this process through Excel files, which presented a number of issues, such as file size and/or version control.

Our localisation tool "Phrase"

With Phrase, we have what we need. Whenever there is a new feature in development, we add a so-called key to the environment, which reflects the exact position in the source code where a word or sentence should be placed. We always start by writing the text in English, ensuring uniformity of language across the app. Afterwards, we create translation tasks for each language. We have a dedicated colleague from either Movingdots or Swiss Re for each language, which ensures consistency in the way words are translated from English to the other languages. The translators are notified automatically via mail as soon as there is a new task. Since Coloride’s development is based on SCRUM and follows sprints, delivering on time is essential to not miss the release windows. Phrase provides to translators the deadlines attached to each sprint to help with prioritisation. Often, translations depend on context. Phrase allows for the addition of a description or a snapshot to help. If clarifications are needed, comments can be written for each key. With this, the translators can directly communicate with the localisation team, within the tool and without a single email being sent. To further ease the job, Phrase automatically looks for previous similar translations and suggests these as well. Once the translations are complete, the localisation manager reviews them to ensure correct punctuation, consistency in the use of upper/lower case and text length. This can sometimes be tricky as the phone screen is always the same and strings need to stay within boundaries in order to be visualised entirely by the user. When it comes to revisions, changes to the original language (English) are highlighted for all other translations, which are automatically set to “unverified”. This allows us to keep track of changes and ensure the deployment of new translation tasks.

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Roman-script-based languages seem to be easy – here is how we managed Chinese and Arabic

The challenge for Chinese comes from its characters and abbreviations. Moreover, the length cannot be compared to roman-script-based words and we had to test the look and feel in general. Among all the languages, Arabic was the most difficult to implement. Besides the alphabet, the challenge arose with the right-to-left writing. We had to mirror Coloride completely: all texts, images, graphs, menus, buttons had to be flipped and the composition of strings (e.g. the order of numbers and currency) needed special care. There were also several changes required for app modules, such as a page swiper and charts. We were using third party libraries which did not support right-to-left, so we had to come up with our own ideas. Movingdots' multi-lingual staff were indispensable in overcoming this hurdle.

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Needless to say, we are ready to localise Coloride into your language if we have not already done so. If you are an insurance company or a partner interested in Coloride, get in touch with us. Language will certainly not be an issue.

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