Localization Series: Localization Kit

localization-kitTo ensure a clear understanding of the overall localization project, it is necessary to put together a Localization Kit, or LocKit (it needed a shorter name, of course) for localizers, engineers and testers to properly plan ahead. It should contain tools, instructions and resources that will allow a software product to be localized.

Nadine Kano defines it in her book Developing International Software (Microsoft Press, 1995) as:

A subset of tools, source files, binary files, test scripts and appropriate instructions that can be used to create a localized edition of a program. Generally given to translators, localization agencies or international distributors.

The more information we have about the project, the better we can efficiently quote, schedule and manage deliverables. It will also help prepare a proposal, which is how vendors are usually selected, and it can be especially useful when multiple languages have been split between vendors. The kit should be complete with as much information as the development team can provide about the product itself and should include clear documentation and instructions to use its contents. It should also use a well-organized folder structure and it should be divided into sections specifically designed for the team who will be working on the project

The kits are as varied as the projects they represent, but we can usually find the following components in them: localization guidelines and schedule information, build environments and source files, and reference materials. Any kit should include a letter of assignment to be signed and returned by all team members and it should include a Statement of Work (SoW) where all requirements are detailed. This would also allow the project manager to outline the work plan through a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) diagram and delivery schedule. Divide et impera, if your first language is Latin.

Each SoW should also be accompanied with a detailed Bill of Materials (BoM) including a list of the files to localize grouped by type; an image of the directory structure of resource files, build files, compiled files and documentation files by locale; directory structure requirements for deliverables; a list of expected deliverables; a list of drivers for creating deliverables; a list of build environments and source files; and a list of documentation files.