Localization Tools: 8 Tools Your Team Needs to Run Effectively

Last Updated August 16, 2017

Localization requires the use of many different tools.

The right localization tools make life easier for everyone involved in localization projects.

But what tools are really necessary to get the job done?

We’ve compiled this list of our 8 types of localization tools you should use day-to-day.

1. Computer Assisted Translation (CAT)

Computer Assisted Translation, or simply CAT, help to process the translation files, improve efficiency and increase speed.

This essentially speeds up translation processes by remembering what and how you translated before.

CAT tools start with no memories and grow as more translations are performed. Some popular CAT tools are SDL Trados Studio, memoQ, DejaVu and Across.

To show an example, the phrase “Translation tools” is translated from English to French as “Outils de Traduction.”

Now, the source English phrase and the target French translation will be linked and saved in the translation memory.

If the phrase “Translation tools” needs to be translated from English into French again, the CAT tools present the user with a previous translation and a 100% match result. This process speeds up translation incrementally every time a new phrase is translated.

English Match %  French
Hello! 0%  Salut!
Hello! My name is 25%  Salut! Je m’appelle


The tool will also show the user partial matches, filling it what it knows to make it easier for the translator. Whether they are 100% matches or lower, CAT tools are sure to speed up any translation process.

Why would you care?

Imagine that you translate software or translate website that has thousands of words.

It’s not uncommon to continuously update the source text with the new features or services but how do you remember what has changed in English so you can update in foreign languages?

The CAT tool’s sole reason for existence is exactly that.

Using the Translation Memory that has built in the past, it will be able to fill previously translated text (100% matches) and only extract the new or updated sentences that need a linguist attention

CAT tools are not replacement for professional translators. They simply help to increase accuracy of translation, efficiency and time to market.

2. Translation Management System (TMS)

A TMS is used for the project management aspect of localization.

The number of files, varying languages, translators and project stakeholders can become overwhelming to any project manager.

TMS helps you manage your jobs, different vendors but most importantly it let’s you to apply different workflows – one of the most important features of TMS.

They enable progress of the job through different stages such as translation, editing, Desktop Publishing or localization engineering so the project manager doesn’t have to spend their valuable time on moving the files around.

It’s an essential tool for companies that have high volume translation and file exchange.

Phrase, Plunet, XTRF, and Transifex are all translation management systems.

Some TMS may also include minor CAT tools, but usually not comprehensive enough to completely replace CAT tools.

This tool is recommended for any medium-sized translation team or agency.

3. Term Base

A term base is very specific in its purpose.

This is a glossary created for specific branding and language purposes.

This ensures that the appropriate words are used in each of the translations of specific terms. These databases can be saved in a universal TBX format, but CSV and XLS files are also readable by many tools.

One use would be to ensure appropriate word choice when transferring from one language to another.

As there could be multiple ways to translate the same word, one may align with brand better than another.

A company could now make that choice once and have it be consistent throughout all of its translations.

4. Quality Assurance Tools

QA tools, much like the term base, serve a very specific purpose of verifying translations.

QA checks can cover terminology, numbers, trademarks, abbreviations, consistent translation of segments and more.

This tool is customizable, and tailored to different brands and their terminologies.

One of the tools we use for terminology is SDL Multiterm, and examples of possible QA tools are XBench and Verifika.

Some CAT tools have built-in QA modules as well.


For example, a product name may include a regular word like “Power.”

Since “Power” is a part of the product name, we keep it consistently English across the board.

The translator may not have received that in the instructions, so Power is translated for every line it’s in. A terminology & QA tool searches through the translated text and ensure the defined terminology, in this case “Power,” is found in the target translation if it’s in the source.

Using a tool to check this saves the effort of a person checking it, and possibly missing something along the way.

5. Bug Tracking Platform

This tool is a platform for testers to report bugs and errors found within translations.

This also means tracking progression. Often this would create a backlog for the localization engineer, who makes changes to each of the errors according to the QA tester’s recommendations. JIRA and Redmine are great tools for defect management.

A bug tracking platform may also be a great way to work collaboratively with customers.

They allow anyone to login and report & track errors themselves. Some clients may request to perform these aspects themselves.

6. Screenshot Capture Tools

Use of screenshots is not specifically classified under “localization tools,” but screenshots do prove extremely useful when trying to communicate visual errors.

QA testers may test implementations of translations on user interfaces (UI), desktop publishing (DTP) documents or websites.

A simple screenshot tool we use is ShareX.

A great example is truncation.

Whether it’s UI, DTP or website, truncation is a common problem. Truncation is much easier to communicate visually, but it would be inefficient for the QA tester to meet the localization engineer for every visual error.

That’s why screenshot capture tools are naturally great localization tools.

7. File Sharing, Management, & Version Control

File sharing tools are used among most businesses these days.

Whether they are in-house servers or folders in the cloud, every team works with some kind of file sharing service.

Some examples of cloud services are Mediafire, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

Often, localization work is tied to private information, so using a secure server would be necessary.

Moreover, using a file management tool with version control leads to great benefits.

These lean towards the side of SVN and Git, with clients like TortoiseSVN and TortoiseGit.

Version control would show a revision log and give you access to the older versions of the same file.

This saves collaborators from creating several versions of the same file to track changes and allows the use to compare different versions.

Version control may also save your old work in case of corruption or loss of the file in its current version.

8. Desktop Publishing

Desktop publishing is commonly known as DTP in the industry. DTP tools are often used in collaboration with clients, so a localization engineer can edit and pull text for translation purposes.

For example, anything in the Adobe catalog used to modify visual assets (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator) is regarded as a DTP tool.

These are used as localization tools to create and modify content, including packaging, marketing assets, manuals and more.

Often, proper use of these tools in a localization context requires knowledge of internationalization best practices.

Additional Considerations

While choosing localization tools, there are different features to pay attention to.

Compatibility with other tools, supported file formats, online or desktop preference, ability to stay secure, use of machine translation engines, ability to use a term base from other sources, quality of customer support and price.

These features vary per product, making due diligence critical in choosing the right product for your workflow.

The localization tools we’ve highlighted are integral to any substantial localization process.

Sometimes, if one of them doesn’t fulfill a need you need to find a work around.

For example, Summa Linguae’s localization engineers develop in-house tools, one of them automatically pulls text from DTP files like Photoshop and Illustrator files.

This, along with all the other tools, creates a high level of effectiveness and efficiency.

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