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Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews
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Introduction:

RapidSolution Software was founded in 1998 in Karlsruhe, Germany. The company became incorporated in 2002. In 2003, a second development site was founded in Timisoara, Romania. RapidSolution Software AG is entirely financed by its own equity capital and is growing steadily, currently employing 60 people coming from all 5 continents and more than 10 different countries. Prominent customers are GE Inspection Technology and ABB. RapidTranslation, the Runtime Language Switching product was first released in 1999. Besides RapidTranslation, the firm develops a divers product palette including solutions for web-based Data Mining for the Internet and Intranet (equero), voice services using the Internet protocol (VoIP), and various legal alternatives to file sharing applications focusing on music (e.g. air2mp3).

Features:

RapidTranslation (RT) is primarily NOT a localization/translation tool but a special, almost unique application which allows Runtime Language Switching for 32-bit Windows Applications. It currently supports applications developed in C++. Visual Basic applications are only supported if if they were properly programmed (no mix up of language resources and other program code). Support of .NET assemblies is under development. The purpose of this Software is particularly important for multi-language applications in critical environments where it is not possible to interrupt a running application in order to switch the language. This is the case for industrial industrial or machine controls, information systems and terminals as well as device specific software and drivers. Besides such crucial applications, language switching at runtime provides advantages and saves time for Software developers, localization engineers and translators who are localizing an application, as there is no need to stop and restart a process in order to see changes take effect. In addition, Software developers can include the runtime module for distributing their multilingual application all wrapped within an own setup procedure. Language switching does not produce any performance loss and you can customize the process to fit your product. It is always possible to add more languages to your original resource if you decide that you want to provide more languages to your customers. Alternative to such a ‘root’ translation, RT is also able to translate the interfaces or ‘surface’ of your Windows 32bit Software. This an almost unique feature of RT. Like in the case of 'root' translations, switching from the current language to any of the other integrated languages takes place while the application is running. As soon as text is displayed within the interface, it is correctly translated. The architecture of the Software ensures that there is no code modification and that no programming skills are required to operate the tool.

Fig. 1: Interface of RapidTranslation Studio:
The clear interface enables you to quickly edit your projects once established with the help of a wizard. All features are easily accessible through icons, tabs (upper right) and the navigation panel (left). Once setup, you can start RT Studio Live to control the launch of the multiligual application.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


RapidTranslation (RT) is composed of RT Studio, RT Editor and RT Runtime.
RT Studio integrates the RT technology into your existing application allowing you to easily create and manage multi-lingual applications. The used language files (“.tra”) are automatically created from existing applications in binary formats (e.g. .EXE, .DLL, .OCX). Dependent external language resources are found through either a static or a dynamic dependency check which locates and adds any dependent DLLs or other binary resources containing localizable information and adds them to the language file. If you already have two or multiple language versions of your application, it is quite easy to create one multi-lingual application by simply merging them to a truly bi-(multi)-lingual version. The same is possible from a single application that supports several languages by using different associated resources. The switching dialog is held as simple as possible, with country-flags symbolizing different languages to enable all users to select the appropriate language even if he is not able to recognize the specific characters of the current language. Applications cannot be satisfactory localized if string resources
are loaded into the memory only at the launch of an application from where they are called each time they are needed instead of reading them from the string table every time they are called for. In this case, you need to use the "surface translation" strategy, where RT captures all text output routines of MS Windows and localizes them according to the bilingual resources. This is, however, not the preferred way of generating multilingual Software. Using the Project wizard in developer mode allows Software developers to integrate RT into the early steps of developing their Software and thereby ensure optimal localizability.

 

Fig. 2: Interface of a localized multilingual version of MS Outlook Express:
A new sub menu: "Switch Language" is inserted into the program icon sub menu which brings up the language selection dialog box - shown to the right - featuring country flags for the easy selection of the interface language
Please click on the image for a closer look!


The RT Editor provides a platform to perform the actual translation of the texts and strings involved in the resource. It arranges all texts of the application according to their functions (Menus, Dialogs, Messages,…) and displays them in a clear tree structure. RT Editor is extremely easy to handle and can be mastered after a short time even by inexperienced translators. It has many word-processing functions available, such as: editing, full-text search, automated search and automated replacement of words. Other helpful functions include: an automatic tagging feature for not-yet translated texts and the intelligent update handling assistance. Format strings or wildcards (usually displayed as “%") are protected and cannot be edited. Due to the unique RapidSwitching-Technology, you can check the results of your modifications right within the running target application by just one mouse click. A basic WYSIWYG-editor allows you to easily resize dialog boxes to fit modified text strings by using the mouse. The RT Editor can also be used by external third-party translators. As RapidSolution does not compete with professional Software localization tools and is aware of the limitations of the included editor, it is also possible to integrate any other translation tool into RapidTranslation that is capable to handle windows resource files into the workflow. Due to a tight cooperation of RapidSolution Software and the PASS Engineering GmbH, there is a direct linking between RT and PASSOLO allowing you to immediately visualize the results and effects of your translation at runtime of the localized target application. Besides this tight integration, RT works with any 3rd party localization tool at the click of a button within the StudioLife bar.
The RT Runtime can be delivered to the end user along with the multilingual product and enables the runtime switching of languages without the need of having RT installed on this system. RapidTranslation generates a setup kit which, executed on the target workstation, automatically adds the multi-lingual ability to the local installation of the target application. It features a clear switching dialogue with country flags enabling the selection of the correct language even if the particular characters of the language can not be understood. The RT Runtime affects the application in two different ways. First, the runtime module replaces all texts that are loaded from the resources with the corresponding files of the target language. Second, RT Runtime checks every text to be displayed on-screen and translates it if necessary. This dual functionality ensures that all texts are covered and translated correctly when RapidSwitching is used.

Editions & Prices:

  • RapidTranslation Enterprise Edition, includes both, an ANSI/MBCS version plus an UNICODE version. It furthermore offers starter binary mode & developer mode designed for Software developers. API & import library. RT runtime installations unlimited. USD 1999 / EUR 1499.
  • .NET version under development. Estimated sales price approx. 1000 EUR.
  • Various Support Packages - Please consult the vendors web site for details!

Fig. 3: RapidTranslation: Instant Language-Switch from English to Japanese
After selecting the language icon for Japanese, the whole interface of Microsoft Outlook Express sis instantly localized into Japanese. Please note, that the welcome screen of MS Outlook Express is a HTML-page which cannot be localized!
You may click on the image for a closer look!


Usage & Evaluation

RadidTranslation (RT) did install quickly without any problems on my Windows XP system. In order to cope with non-Windows-NT kernels, there is also a ANSI version within the same installer. The installation package is an astonishing light-weight (7.5 MB), taking into account that the Software is able to capture, manipulate and release language-containing resources deep within the architecture of Microsoft Windows.

Setting up a project within the RT Studio is as easy as 1-2-3 thanks to a wizard. The only draw-back for a newcomer like me, is the lack of an integrated help system and printed manuals, as well as a basic tutorial which would jump-start your work using RapidTranslation. There are several PDF-Manuals (some of them even only in black-and-white!) but they lack bookmarks and internal jumps for an easier navigation - and even if they would be perfect, are no equivalent substitute for a good help system! However, for most easy projects, there should be no problems, due to the project setup wizard and the clear organization of the user interface of the RT Studio featuring tabs and a hierarchical navigation panel.
A minor annoyances are frequent display errors like flickers within the multilingual interface, especially if moving the mouse over the submenu items. This is caused by the fact that MS Windows does not double-buffer dialogs after re-drawing them. More serious obstacles were mix-ups between the settings of different projects (a problem which might occur for any user) and the same projects using different external editors (a problem possibly specific for my test environment) resulting in the implementation of incorrect target or language files. In addition, deleting out-dated projects is quite clumsy, as you have to use the Software de-installation feature of MS Windows to get rid of disturbing files and registry entries.
It is a nice thing to receive the RT Editor together with the RT Studio at no extra cost and to be able to redistribute it to your translators - but it cannot compare to most professional Software localization tools. RapidSolution therefore even suggests that you use an external 3rd-party tool for the actual translation and established a strategic partnership with PASS Engineering by integrating a tight connection between
RT and PASSOLO. However, using any other tool of your choice is not much more of a hazzle.

By its nature, RT is limited to handle standard 32-bit Windows applications "only". Software developed in Visual Basic is only supported if properly programmed - this means: no mix up of language resources and other program code. There is furthermore no support of web applications, XML and Java. On the other hand, the only tool capable to do the trick on a larger variety of platforms and technologies, the competitor WizTom, is rather expensive and requires in most cases individual adaptations of the technology. Both, costs and necessary efforts are in most cases only feasible for larger businesses and corporations.

Featuring real-time language switching of the graphical user-interface of Windows 32-bit Software, RapidTranslation has almost no competitors. There is only one other product capable to do the same trick: WizTom by Wizart. However, while RapidTranslation is an affordable solution focusing on smaller Software developers and translators, WizTom is a high-end language-switching solution for corporations and larger businesses offering custom-adapted packages for most major programming environments, web-based services, XML and Java. On the other hand, WizTom does not serve the purpose of checking the looks and feels as well as the functioning of your Software during localization and consequently, does not cooperate with external Software localization tools. For a comprehensive summary, I also want to mention, that some Software localization tools (CATALYST, Lingobit Localizer and SDL ToolProof) are able to create a link between generated target files and user input in order to manually log problems within the interface of the localized version.

In conclusion, RapidTranslation offers a reasonably priced out-of-the-box solution for Software Developers to create multilingual deploys of their Windows 32-bit Software. In connection with a powerful localization tool it might also be very valuable for translators and Software engineers, testing the looks and feels of the localized versions, while translation and engineering is still going on.

System Requirements:
Ansi version: Windows 98 SE or higher. Unicode version: Windows NT 4.0 or higher.

Company Information:
RapidSolution Software AG; Haid-und-Neu-Strasse 7; D-76133 Karlsruhe, Germany; Phone: +49 721 66 33 88 0, FAX: +49 721 66 33 88 19; URL: http://www.rapidtranslation.net

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

 
 
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