Translation in visual context (Visual Context with In-App Editing)

Which translation should I use for this word and is my translation too long?


Document translation has been around for centuries and translators can infer the correct translation based upon context of the entire document. Mobile apps have a list of one to three word phrases that need to be translated. App translators typically receive a list of words and phrases in a spreadsheet, MS Word document, or XML format.

By just looking at the short words, it is almost impossible to pick the correct translation. For example; "display" can be a noun or verb, and the English word "hot" has over 30 different Spanish translations. The words alone do not contain enough context and thus, the translation task from a list is error prone. Context is crucial.

The other big issue with Mobile apps is that the area on a mobile phone screen is limited and a translation that is too long will get truncated visually, the text overruns the space allocated to it. This is not a big problem for documents but is a major problem for mobile apps. In the past there were few ways context could be provided.

First: The translator could use the same development tools as the programmer and see the words and phrases as they appear on the app screens. This required the translator to also be a programmer able to use development tools, learn how to use the app to cause all the screens to display, and have access to source code. Translators are typically not programmers and they rarely get access to the app source code.

Second: The translator could be provided with a set of app screen shots. This required the app programmer to take all the screen shots, and for the translator to search through all the screen shots for each word or phrase they were translating. Lots of tedious work for both. Also, when the same word or phrased is used several times, it was never clear which translation went with which screen shot.

Neither of these solutions are time efficient. Neither translator or developer likes being put into a position of creating or using translations that could be faulty. There had to be a better way.


Display the translations within the visual representation of the application screens in a web browser so that a translator can see the context of where and how the text is being used. This is an enormous improvement over the traditional app translation process.

The app screens and strings are displayed and editable in a web browser. The translator does not need to own or learn how to use the developer tool, doesn’t have to wade through static screen shots, and doesn’t need to learn how to use the app to be able to navigate to all the screens. All translators have a machine with a browser and they can quickly see how a word or phrase is being used to understand the context.


Translators quickly and easily provide context correct translations that fit within the allocated area in the mobile app screen. Developers don’t have to view every translation of every phrase of every language on every screen to hunt for text overruns. The system can do that, saving the developer days of tedious translation length review time.


US Patent Number 9372672
Patent Issued 20-JUL-2016