How to Create a Quote for Software Translation Services

November 22, 2011

Software translation, software globalization and software localization are all terms used to describe the process of taking a software application that is in one language, English for example, and translating it into other languages, say Portuguese or Spanish. One of the first questions companies ask when inquiring about software translation services provided by a translation agency is "how much will it cost?"

This is the third in a series of four blogs in which I will share a quick approach to calculating translation costs for documents, software, websites and multimedia translation services. While the approach described is somewhat generic and must be modified depending on the type of software translation project we are talking about, the basic line items and metrics needed to understand the costs for software translation below should still be helpful. I am covering calculating costs of translating an application only, not internationalizing an application. All of the ingredients listed below are relevant when you are communicating with your language services translation agency to obtain a quote or estimate for project costs.

To help you understand the difference let me start with some basic definitions. You can read about these definitions in one of our past blogs on Software Translation, Software Localization and Software Internationalization.

Getting Started with a Software Translation Quote

In order to create a quote for a software translation project, a series of tasks and metrics are required by your translation agency to build the quote and determine software translation costs:

  • Metrics used for actual translations, or as the trade calls it, Translation-editing-proofing (TEP), are typically calculated on a per-word basis.
  • Desktop publishing (formatting) costs for user guides can be calculated on a per-hour or per-page.
  • Graphic localization (text inside graphics) costs can be calculated per-hour.
  • Screen captures costs can be calculated per-hour or per-screen
  • Engineering can be calculated per-hour.
  • Basic Software QA/Testing can be calculated per-hour.
  • Internationalization, Localization and/or Functionality Testing can be calculated per-hour.
  • Language translation services agencies who provide software Localization companies should include also a glossary development step and project management fee.

A translation company should request the the source files (a "software localization kit") for your software translation project when quoting your software localization project. A Software Localization Kit should consist of all of the resources used to develop, build and run your application, including:

  1. All files in your development environment, specifically Resource files (e.g. RC, RC2, DLG, H, HH, CPP, EXE, DLL, and graphic file formats).
  2. All Documentation source files (e.g. FrameMaker, Word, etc.). Includes all templates, books, fonts, original graphics (i.e., Photoshop, Illustrator).
  3. All HELP source files (e.g. graphics, RTF, VBS, HTML, CNT/HHX/HHC). Include all templates, fonts, books, and original graphics.

* Additional information required would include:

  1. Reference material (glossaries, past translations, style guide, etc.).
  2. File names and types, including an explanation of each file's purpose.
  3. The name and version of the development, documentation and Help authoring tool(s).
  4. The location (directories/files) of any hard coded literals which are in the user interface.
  5. Original files of any third-party applications/components used.
  6. Detailed build instructions (if applicable).
  7. Test plan and test scripts (if applicable).

A Sample Software Translation Quote

Let's assume that your project includes:

  • 10,000 words in the User Interface
  • 20,000 words in the Documentation
  • 20,000 words in the Online Help (generated from the Documentation ideally so repeat)
  • General desktop application
  • Translation from English into Brazilian Portuguese
Tasks Cost per hour/word # of hours / words Total
Pre-Engineering $65.00/Hour 8 Hours $520.00
Glossary Development $65.00/Hour 15 Hours $975.00
Translation-editing-proofing (TEP) - Documentation $0.20/Word 20000 Words $4,000.00
Translation-editing-proofing (TEP) - User Interface $0.20/Word 10000 Words $2,000.00
Multilingual DTP for Documentation $65.00/Hour 16 Hours $1,040.00
Online Help Generation $65.00/Hour 12 Hours $780.00
Post Engineering $65.00/Hour 4 Hours $260.00
Basic Software QA/Testing $65.00/Hour 6 Hours $390.00
Subtotal $9,965.00
Project Management Fee 10% $996.50
Total $10,961.50

Please note:

  1. Per-word rates can vary between languages, types of applications and results of translation memory usage.
  2. Graphic localization and multilingual DTP specifically screen captures and placement hours can vary depending on availability of scripts and who places captures. The calculations above assume that the client captured screens and provide them to the translation agency for placement.
  3. Engineering time is based on 120 files and can vary depending on file formats. Online Help cost can vary depending on if HELP can be generated from documentation. Above assumes documentation was created in FrameMaker and then HELP generated in RoboHelp.
  4. Testing listing above is basic testing assuming translation agency has been trained on application and has access to expert users and is working with test scripts to run through application.

Overview of Basic Tasks Included in Software Translation Quote

The basic tasks in a Software translation services project may include:

Glossary Development

Key terminology is identified and extracted from the source files provided by the client. The terminology is translated and provided back to the client for review and approval. Following review and approval, the terminology is imported into a translation memory tool and updated as needed.

Translation (TEP)

Translation of text, editing of the text by a separate translation team and final proofreading.

Multilingual Desktop Publishing

Formatting of all target language materials including text and graphics to match the source language documents. GPI will utilize client-specified DTP (desktop publishing) applications.

Graphic Localization-Screen Captures

*This process involves creating new graphics by extracting translatable text from source graphics, translating the text, and placing it back into the new "translated" graphic. Graphic localization might include layout elements, buttons, navigation items, maps, etc. Performing screen captures from localized applications and placing the new screen shots into the localized HELP or Documentation.

Engineering Preliminary

Source files ("localization kits") are analyzed by your localization engineer. Components which are translatable are identified and prepared in a format that translators can easily work on without altering any source code or mark-up. Any necessary conversions are performed in order to import source content into a translation memory database.

Post Engineering

Localized files are returned to their original source formats and checked to ensure that no original codes or mark-up have been changed and imported back into their original format.

Cultural Correctness Assessments

In order to ensure that clients communicate in the most "locale-sensitive", culturally appropriate fashion, without making any mistakes or offending their target markets, GPI performs a review of the selected communication medium for cultural issues. This would include a review of a client's website, user interface and documentation content and treatment. Items such as content, metaphors, color, sound, and icons are all reviewed for appropriateness.

Basic Software QA/Testing

GPI typically provides software localization QA/testers for onsite testing (validation) to work side-by-side with a client's expert user(s). More formalized software testing (onsite or offsite) can be provided and is quoted after the client provides an exact type of required testing such as Localization, Internationalization, and/or Functionality and test plans and test scripts.

Project Management

This fee includes all aspects of project management by your translation company, from scoping to scheduling. Project management includes resource management, client review and approval process, status reports/calls, documented quality assurance steps and budget tracking.

Keeping the goal of software globalization in mind

Whether you are trying to release a multilingual product in order to increase your global market share and ROI or you are trying to increase your company's global operational efficiencies by developing multilingual applications, software globalization is a requirement to make either a reality. Each client's needs are somewhat unique and there are a variety of factors that can influence resources and costs involved in a complex software globalization project.

You may find some of GPI's previous blogs that touch on software localization to be highly useful:

Additional resources on software translation

To further understand the entire software translation and globalization process, you should download our PDF " Software Globalization Guide" You may also benefit from two more of our previous blogs, " Why Internationalize Your Code Base" and " What's the difference between Translation Agency, Localization Services and LSP?"

Each software globalization project is unique. GPI will be happy to assist you. Request a Translation Quote online, or you may contact GPI at or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about your target global markets and your project goals.

Software Translation
software, translation, localizatio, globalization

GPI’s Latest Version of Translation Services Portal Wins 2011 Web AwardHighlights of Lavacon 2011: Going Global


Currently, there are no comments. Be the first to post one!

Contact Us FREE Globalization eBooks Request Demo Request Quote

Daniela has over 16 years' experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA). She has managed a wide variety of document, website, software and audio-video localization projects utilizing different Translation Management Systems (TMS), Translation Memory (TM) and I18n and L10n tool suites.