Translation under constraints (Text Field Overrun Management)

Don’t make me look at every screen of every language hunting for missing characters.

Problem

One of the big constraints on mobile app localization is the lack of space for translated text. It is not uncommon for translated text to be longer than the space allocated to the source text (English or Chinese). When the translation is too long to be displayed in the allocated space on the mobile app screen, that problem is referred to as a "text overrun". The text overruns the space allocated to it.

The big problem with text overruns is that translators provide translations, developers add them into the app, then the developer must look at every string, on every screen, for every language, and see that all the characters provided by the translators are visible. Someone who understands a language can quickly see if a word or phrase is visually truncated, too long to be fully displayed. But, app developers are outsourcing translations because they do not read those languages. In traditional mobile app translations, the only way a developer can insure all the characters are displayed is to compare what they can see on screen with what they can see in the translator supplied translations. It is an extremely tedious task, especially for a high paid app developer.

For example, assuming you don’t read Arabic, is this missing anything or is it the full translation? هذا هو شيء كامل أو مفقود

Solution

As text strings are translated in a visual representation in a web browser, the area occupied by each translation can be compared to the field in which it is displayed and text overruns can be highlighted.

Step one: before giving the app to translators, the developer sees where text overruns are likely to occur and changes the layout, if possible, to provide additional space for the upcoming translations.

Step two: as the translator translates, they immediately see and edit words in a visual representation of the app so that they are aware of how much space has been allocated to a specific text string. When a text string is too long, the interface alerts the translator, and they can choose a translation that fits within the allowed space.

Alternatively, if the app interface seems to have available space for that translated string if the developer just made the text field bigger, they could go back to the developer and request that the developer increase the size of the space available.

Impact

With this technology, the translator can provide an appropriate length translation with the first translation and there doesn’t need to be a second or third set of corrections. Also, the developer no longer has to look at every string, on every screen, in every language. They can instead, see is any strings are too long (ask the translator to provide shorter strings) and a short list of strings that are right on the edge of being too long (that should be examined in the app in case they are too long). This removes a massive amount of tedium for the developer and allows the translator to do it right the first time.

Without this technology, the developer has to view every string, on every screen, of every language, and compare the characters (Is the above Arabic translation missing any characters?). Is it no wonder developers using traditional methods hate to deal with translations. When they find a translation that is too long, they have to communicate back to the translator, who provides a shorter translation, which the developer imports into the app, and then the developer reviews that screen / language yet again.

Status

US Patent Application Number 61873673
Filed 04-SEP-2014