Multilingual User Interface Testing: Why It’s Necessary for Global Software Integration

To take advantage of growth opportunities presented by an international user base, software and applications need to support more cultures, markeglobets and languages than ever before.

The need to localize technology in more languages has increased over the years and this is evident by more software products being offered in more languages. From mobile apps to online tools, users today have the option to choose from several languages for file management, translation support, editing tools, and other features.

English is spoken by only 8.5 percent of the world’s population. To cater information to the other 94%, a multilingual user interface (MUI) is needed. This is especially true given that globalization trends are increasing the expectations of users in all living countries regarding technology and its availability in their markets.

The MUI feature provides end users the ability to set a particular language of the user interface (UI), but this excludes personal databases that are created for the user in the templates residing in the data directory. Software testers need to test MUI technology for adapting internationalized software for a specific industry or region by checking locale-specific text and translation components.

Testing MUI in globalized software

As a start, you need to set the environments as languages. Suppose a construction agency is working on software that needs to be translated into multiple languages. You can create multiple virtual machines and adapt them to different language requirements by integrating MUI packs.

With the help of international testing environments, you’ll be able to emulate the same environment as the end user. The main focus should be placed on currency, time, date and other similar numerical formats, as common issues arise in this section. Special efforts are needed to make sure the system does not make mistakes, such as failing to digit group symbols.

A common user should have no indication that the software used is localized from one language to his/her native language, if the testing was done correctly. But it’s notable that there are different files (DDL files, for example) used by software for its own benefit, including language packs used. Different testers will use different strategies. Microsoft, for example, selects a different file pack for each language.

Testing should also cover the UI elements (buttons, labels, fonts, dialog boxes, and images) aside from the data storage requirements which include databases and files. If files are considered, a rule of thumb is to avoid default encoding and set compatible encoding.

Some of the useful tools you can use for testing purposes include W3C Internationalization Checker and Fake language testing. Such tools perform various tests to determine the level of international-friendliness of web pages and software interfaces and catch issues early. Fake language testing also makes sure the end user is able to switch between languages seamlessly and correct messages are picked up from the translation directory.

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Introduction to Localization Testing (With the Help of the Fresh Prince)

If you’ve ever used an automated translation service like Google Translate, you know that a machine can’t always grasp the nuances of human language like an actual human can. This point is best illustrated by this hilarious video from CDZA, who took the theme song from the TV show Fresh Prince of Bel Air and ran it through Google Translate’s 64 languages and then back to English:

The video certainly highlights (albeit, in an over-the-top way) the importance of localization when it comes to content meant for a global audience.

uTest offers several resources on this topic if you’re not familiar with localization or with localization testing.

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