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Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews
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Introduction:

Lingobit Technologies was founded in 1997 in St. Petersburg, Russia by Sergey Markov and two colleagues as an outsourcing provider specialized in software localization services. In 1998, the young company began to develop their own in-house software localization tools in order to fulfill the localization needs of their customers. In 2002, Lingobit made a strategic decision to focus on the development of localization software for the global marketplace, followed by the first public release of the Lingobit Localizer in 2003. Today, Lingobit maintains offices in St. Petersburg, Russia and Forest Hills, NY, USA.

Features:

Lingobit Localizer is a full-featured localization and internationalization solution for both large and small software projects. The tool supports Windows 32- bit binaries programmed in Visual C++/MFC (Microsoft Foundation Class), Java Properties files, .NET Resource files and XML files. A Lingobit Localizer project can contain multiple files and handle several targets in more than 180 different languages, including European, Asian and right-to-left languages such as Arabic or Hebrew.
The translation process is enhanced by an advanced resource editor that allows you to localize dialog panels visually (WYSIWYG) and customize the controls to fit the translations. You can translate all duplicate entries in just one click. Auxiliary windows such as the Navigation, the Text Editor are dockable or can be arranged at any place as floating windows - or can be rolled out on mouse-over on small icons.
Before you start translating, you can use a Pseudo Translation feature to check the application for localization suitability. By doing this, you can, for example, determine whether a product crashes after a series of strings were translated, or to verify that localizable strings have been clearly separated from the application's source code.
A Statistics Expert allows you to calculate the efforts involved in the software localization progress and pinpoint problems. In addition, you receive an overview of the project schedule and can easily locate parts that are behind the schedule and others which are on track and how thoroughly translations are and whether they have been verified after changes have been made. Lingobit Localizer offers a flexible status control system (automated, semi-automated and manual flagging), so you can tell translation entry in review stage from completed one. Statistics features are supported by several Validation Experts offering automated QA (Quality Assurance). You can, for example, identify many common mistakes such as inconsistent format strings, duplicate hotkeys and missing periods. This speeds up the QA period significantly.

Fig. 1: Dialog Localization with the Lingobit Localizer with undocked auxiliary windows:
Auxiliary windows like the shown Navigation and Validation Results can be undocked from the editor. Dialogs can be localized visually in the dialog editor (upper panel) or a grid-based table (lower panel). You can also select a larger text editor as a separate auxiliary window (not shown here). Please note the filter tab in the Navigation window to display only the selected string type.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


Lingobit Localizer allows you to import previous translations of your application, thereby avoiding redundant work and increasing the consistency of your new Localizer project. An integrated "Scan for Changes" function allows you to reflect changes in your application fast and easily, thereby enhancing the maintenance of new versions of your localized application tremendously. An unique matching technology maximizes the amount of translation for the leverage process, thus reducing your translation costs and engineering cycles. Another powerful element is the integrated Translation Memory (TM) which helps even more to leverage on your previous work and significantly reduce repetitive tasks even if the material was not prepared by the Lingobit Localizer or does not come from Software localization. You can import and export to and from this TM by customizable delimited text or TMX.
A rare feature in Software localization tools is Lingobit Localizer's powerful version control system. It is able to save the entire history of all changes in your project, guaranteeing that you will never loose a single translation unit on the road.
The availability of a free edition allows freelance translators to accept projects prepared in the Lingobit Localizer which reduces license fees and simplifies the workflow for agencies and companies. Finally, the Exchange Wizard designed for a simple - yet powerful exchange of data between the project coordinator and translators, allows to deliver, mark or hide selective strings to minimize the amount of data transfer and to optimize the handling of necessary strings. You can send either packages which just contain the selected strings and reference material or also include the free translator light or one of your included translator licenses (from the professional and enterprise versions) to a translator - or receive a processed package back. Crash Finder??

The following features are planned for Version 4 of the Lingobit Localizer 4.0 (scheduled for March 2005):

  • Support of Borland Delphi and Borland CBuilder
  • A Compare Expert showing differences between different projects or even executable files. This will
    significantly improve the current Version Expert – you will be able to see how projects change over time.
  • Powerful Crystal Reports functionality. You will be able to generate existing reports, edit them or create totally new reports.

 

Editions & Prices:

Lingobit Localizer comes in 5 different editions:

  • The free Lingobit Localizer Translator Edition includes all features for localization, validation and QA besides TMX Import/Export. As it is designed for dependent translators and QA teams, you can not create new projects, add new files to and remove old files from received projects or delete projects. As the Translator Lite Edition, it is designed to process projects created by the Professional or Enterprise Editions of Lingobit Localizer and cannot itself create localized target files. Free Download from the Lingobit Web site.
  • If you only need to translate an application once and do not need to maintain you translation in the future, Lingobit Localizer Express Edition is your best bid. Designed for small teams and freelance translators, it can create new projects, includes most tools to improve the productivity of single translations but lacks maintenance features like Version Control, Pseudo-Translate, the Exchange Wizard, Scan for Changes, Import Translations and TM tools. As a real standalone product, you can save and modify projects and create target files. USD 195 / EUR 145.
  • The Professional Edition of the Lingobit Localizer includes the full palette of Lingobit's tools (besides TMX Import/Export and the Exchange Wizard) and is the solution for small and mid-size projects. It can leverage your previous work when you release a new version, features several validation experts, statistic features, and all TM tools. It also includes the support of unlimited Lingobit Localizer Translator licenses to incorporate external or in-house translators and QA specialists. USD 495 / EUR 395.
  • Finally, the Lingobit Localizer Enterprise Edition, designed for the work with large projects and the interaction with many translators, featuring scalability, robustness and effectiveness. It includes all features and tools such as the Exchange Wizard, which facilitates the data flow between all people in charge of localization and translation. It also includes the support of unlimited Lingobit Localizer Translator licenses to incorporate external or in-house translators and QA specialists. USD 595 / EUR 445.

Fig. 2: XML-Localization with the Lingobit Localizer
Translation of a XML-file after importing a pre-translated sister file in the target language. Please note that individual strings can be added to the Translation Memory (lower panel - now docked) by right mouse click. Please also note the Navigation window - now docked to the workspace. You can include any number in any supported file format to a Lingobit Localizer project and simultaneously setup several target languages.
You may click on the image for a closer look!


Usage & Evaluation

The Lingobit Localizer offers an intuitive user interface which is easy to learn and use. The work space can be optimized according to your specific needs and preferences due to a flexible docking/undocking and view/hide architecture. Dialogs can be visually localized and adjusted but you can currently not adjust text boxes automatically to fit to the localized text flow. Furthermore, the validation expert does not automatically detect overlapping or truncated text nor offer a spell checker. Both shortcomings were acknowledged and are scheduled for version 4. In contrast to dialogs, there is no visual editing of Menus. It was argued that menu hierarchy is visible in the navigational panel, so Lingobit does not think it is important to visualize menus. However, as localized strings might be overlapping or truncated, visualization of menus is important and is offered in most other tools. Another plus is the integration of an internal TMX compatible translation memory (TM). The import of external TMs or dictionaries is solved conveniently if done in delimited ASCII format - whereas the import of the also supported TMX 1 format did not succeed in my test runs. In addition, TMX 2 is not supported and it is not planned to extend data exchange to comply with this standard.

You can translate all duplicate entries in one click but not interactively. However, as all automatically translated strings are flagged, you can easily examine them by setting the filter to this flag after running the batch processing. The help system of the Lingobit Localizer is very brief and does not explain all features or not sufficiently detailed. Help buttons in dialog boxes do not point to the appropriate entries in the help system but just to the index. Significant improvements of the help system and the product documentation were promised for version 4.
If you mark or select strings from the visual dialog window or from the output window (if you e.g. want to jump to automatically translated strings for manual editing), you do not end up in the correct row within the table grid of the main editor window. This problem was also acknowledged but not scheduled to be fixed. Besides the encountered problems with TMX import, I also had problems importing XML files for localization. As there are no visual import dialogs for the import, and there is no support of external DTDs or schemas, you are actually blindfolded and can not adjust the import according to the specific structure of your XML file structure. These shortcomings are announced to be fixed in the final 3.5 version until the end of 2004.

Unfortunately, I also had problems with two advanced features of the Lingobit Localizer Enterprise edition: Due to tool not working in the first beta version submitted to me and the total lack of any documentation, I could not test the almost unique Crashfinder (only Alchemy CATALYST offers similar features). In addition, my support mail (to the official support address) was not answered for 5 days, which was later excused by Lingobit's corporate spam mail filter. After resending my request directly to my contact person for this review, I was told that Lingobit knows about this usability problem with Crashfinder and will address it within version 3.5. I was likewise first not lucky using the Exchange Wizard - I could not create an export package (e.g. for an external co-worker) which included the Translator Edition. I was told that this was already fixed in a newer beta version but unfortunately, this newer version was not send to me until just before the editorial deadline for this article - in a brief test the Exchange Wizard now seems to work and also the Crashfinder did produce some results.
Although the Lingobit Localizer offers powerful statistics features, there are no reporting features or formats implemented yet. Furthermore, it is not possible to copy/paste or export the log from the output window to store, transmit or communicate results or problems during translation and processing of your files. Again, improvements of both features were promised for version 4 scheduled in March 2005.

In conclusion, the Lingobit Localizer offers all essential tools needed for the translation of 32-bit Windows binaries, Java properties and .NET resources at the lowest price of all professional Software localization tools I reviewed so far. On the other side, many advanced features are missing (some of them are announced for version 4 scheduled for March 2005) and the XML-features still need some development to become really useful for the localization of complex XML files.


System Requirements:
PC with Intel® Pentium®/Celeron®/XeonT, AMD K6/AthlonT/DuronT or compatible processor,
Microsoft ® Windows ® XP, Microsoft ® Windows ® 2000, Windows ® NT ® 4.0 with Service Pack 6 or greater; 64 MB RAM; 50 MB of free hard-disk space for typical program installation.

Company Information:
Lingobit Technologies; 102-15 62 Avenue 2 floor; Forest Hills, NY 11375, USA; Tel./FAX: +1 206 3095258; Email: lingobit@lingobit.com; URL: http://www.lingobit.com

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© 2004 by Dr. Thomas Wassmer, e-mail: tom at softreviews.org

 
 
  Translation & Localization

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