Software Localization

Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews


Short Reviews

PASS Engineering GmbH was founded as a medical analysis system provider in 1990. Providing localized medical software proofed to be crucial for the young company. Because of the lack of appropriate tools they began to develop their own localization tool which they called PASSOLO. After first being used internally within PASS Engineering, PASSOLO finally became available as an independent localization tool in 1998.

Fig. 1: Tree view of a PASSOLO project containing EXE, DLL and OCX sources and their targets in various languages.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


PASSOLO is a specialized translation environment for the localization of Windows-based software. It focusses on the translation process itself providing professional translators with all necessary tools to ensure an easy compilation, exchange and processing of translation data. PASSOLO was designed to allow an open workflow architecture thus fitting into almost all localization scenarios. The software supports applications (EXE, DLL or OCX) programmed in Visual C++, Visual Basic, Borland Delphi and Borland C++Builder as well as Pocket Windows. Using free downloadable macros, PASSOLO also supports Java .PROPERTIES and text files such as Windows INI files. Optional Support of 16bit Windows executables and databases available at additional cost. In addition, the VBA compatible Sax Basic engine allows to include support of other file formats.
In order to extracting only the strings that can be translated while protecting the application from unintended modifications, PASSOLO intentionally does not support the translation of resource files (RC).

  • Integrated editors for dialogs, menus, bitmaps, icons and cursors.
  • Update feature: PASSOLO allows an easy updating if sources were changed. New or changed text is marked and can be filtered in order to make sure that only changes and additions are translated. Attributes like the size of controls in dialogs are automatically adjusted. As the update process uses resource IDs to identify the corresponding resource entries, texts with more than one translation will always be assigned correctly.
  • Alignment tool: By visual alignment PASSOLO can reuse translations which were previously processed using another localization tool.
  • Fuzzy Matching: PASSOLO can simultaneously use several general or project-oriented glossaries which can be individually created by the user. It is also possible to look up translations in a current translation list or in translation lists of other programs. Fuzzy Match displays all concordances between a translatable text string and the selected glossaries within a customizable fuzzy match percentage.

Fig. 2: PASSOLO's WYSIWYG Dialog Editor. The layout can be adapted to the translated resource text without changing existing elements or structures. Layout can be adjusted using build-in functions such as align, space evenly, make same size or center. Truncated resource texts can be resized automatically and dialogs can be flipped to conform right-to-left scripts like Hebrew or Arabic.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


  • PASSOLO's test features detect typical localization errors like missing translations, missing or duplicate access keys and short cuts respectively, truncated texts in dialog controls and overlapping controls. Using the test feature and the functions to resolve some of the errors automatically dramatically reduces the time needed for quality assurance. Hard-coded text, insufficiently sized text buffers, wrong font settings and similar programming errors can be identified easily by Pseudo Translation. The Translation Simulator can also be used to check if all texts that must not be translated are marked as read-only.
  • Add-In technology for customer specific Export/Import filters and nonstandard resources in the Professional Edition. The Professional Edition of PASSOLO allows for data exchange between PASSOLO and other tools through Add-Ins. Presently, Add-Ins for the translation memories (TM) TRADOS and STAR Transit are available. Additional interconnectivity can be programmed by the user or on individual request by the PASSOLO development team.
  • PASSOLO supports OLE-Automation, allowing most of its functions to be controlled from external applications like workflow management systems.

Fig. 3: PASSOLO Add-Ins. PASSOLO enables the exchange of translations with the two leading Translation Memories and Terminology solutions TRADOS and STAR by means of optional Add-Ins. Please use the mouse to roll over the Add-Ins and use a left mouse click to view the options (partially in German).


  • The Statistics feature of PASSOLO helps both freelance translators as well as localization managers by calculating translation volume and project progress. Translated text, non-translated text and repetitions are counted separately. Statistics can be performed per file, per language or per project.
  • Using macros functions, PASSOLO is completely customizable: new functions can be added, and PASSOLO can be integrated with other tools. The creation and editing of macros is even for non-programmers an easy task thanks to the Sax Base Engine (www.sax.net) which is fully integrated into PASSOLO's Professional version. Macros can also be used for developing parser to support additional file formats. On Passware's web site, a couple of such macros e.g. to support the translation of databases are available.

Fig. 4: The Statistics feature of PASSOLO.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


System Requirements:
Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP; 16 MB of RAM; double speed CD-ROM drive; 256-color monitor; 486 PC or higher.

Fig. 5: PASSOLO's powerful macro features. Included are macros to localize Java Property Resources, databases, INI files and a combined lookup for translations in PASSOLO and TRADOS TM.
Please use the mouse to roll over the pre-made macros and use a left mouse click to view the integrated editor (script engine)


Editions & Prices:

PASSOLO is available in four editions:

  • The Translator Edition is a free editor containing all features needed an for efficient translation of bundles created with the Team Edition. Free of charge - requires no dongle or hardware key.
  • The Standard Edition (formerly Programmers Edition) contains the basic functionality to handle many localization scenarios as a stand alone tool. € 700.00 (606 $).
  • The Professional Edition can be extended and customized by Add-Ins offering productivity gains in complex and highly automated workflows with OLE automation and its VBA compatible development environment. € 1100.00 (953 $).
  • The Team Edition for the creation of translation bundles, which can be opened using the free Translator Edition. This enables decentralized projects with external translators using a single software license. Starting at € 2500 ($ 2241.5). Call for details.
  • The STAR Add-In and TRADOS Add-In makes it easy to reuse translations and terminology created during software localization for the translation of manuals, online-help and other documentation. These Add-Ins can be used with the Professional Edition and the Team Edition. € 750.00 (650 $) each.

Company Information: PASS Engineering GmbH; Remigiusstr. 1, 53111 Bonn, Germany; Phone: +49 (228) 697242, Fax: +49 (228) 697104; e-mail: info@passolo.com; URL: http://www.passolo.com.


Usage & Evaluation:

  • PASSOLO is an extremely easy to use translation solution for applications in form of executables and link libraries (EXE DLL and OCX) programmed in Visual C++, Visual Basic, Borland Delphi and Borland C++ Builder. Also supported is software developed for Pocket Windows. PASSOLO intentionally does not support the translation of resource files (RC) in order to minimize source file interference.
    A nice feature for users on a Windows 9x Kernel (Windows 95, 98 and ME) is PASSOLO's unique ability to save back localized EXE files. This is achieved by an internal handling avoiding the limitations of the Windows 9x API.
  • PASSOLO does not support other file formats present in software localization projects (especially Help files and web formats). Besides basic statistic functions, the tool also lacks project management features. However, this is partially covered by providing convenient interactivity to external TM applications (TRADOS and STAR) as well as PASSOLO's powerful macro options.
  • Do not expect the exchange of data between PASSOLO and TRANSIT or TRADOS to be completely painless once you purchased the STAR and TRADOS Add-Ins at € 750.00 (650 $) each. Both filters allow for a customizable export of terminology and/or TM but still involve a lot of hand work to ensure that all data are included.
  • One nice feature of PASSOLO is a very simple one which is surprisingly neglected by many competitors: the localizer provides a conveniently large, resizable window for the actual translation which is equipped with a character map for a quick access to any extended character.
  • Last not least, after STAR Group's Transit Satellite PE and Alchemy CATALYST's QuickShip Environment, PASS Engineering GmbH is now the third company to follow the most welcome business strategy of providing freelance translators with a free translation environment.





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

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