Global Mobile Lessons from Localization World

Last week Adobe participated in the Localization World conference on the edge of Seattle’s busy harbor. Passing ferrry boats and container ships were unable to divert the attendees attention from dozens of relevant and compelling presentations on the latest challenges facing anyone who wants to make their content go global. Although the conference’s focus was translation and localization, nearly all of the workflows and processes discussed are still relevant to customers working in only one language.

Although the LocWorld conference had specific tracks on Content Strategies and Mobility, questions regarding tablets and mobile devices arose during all of the sessions I attended. This blog touches on highlights from a few sessions I was able to attend, as well as my own presentation on rethinking mobile content.

The Mobile World and the Future of Localization

This panel proved to be one of the most lively sessions at the conference, with a highly engaged audience who submitted focused questions about urgent new issues. The panel consisted of Jörg Bott (Microsoft), Mark Flanagan (VistaTEC), Ghassan Haddad (Facebook), Rahul Kumar (Cisco Systems), and Bill Sullivan (IBM).

Jörg Bott of Microsoft (far left in the group photo below) discussed many of the visual filtering issues that Microsoft had to go through to choose appropriate “tile” icons for Windows 8 that would prove effective on tablets and mobile phones as well as laptops. The significance of users’ waning reliance on mouse clicks and increasing usage of screen/finger swipes was extensively discussed.


Several unanswered issues around eBooks and tablet devices were addressed and discussed in great detail:

Obviously, no one has all of the answers to these relevant questions. Attending this session made me aware of how many business-critical issues around tablets and mobile devices are not being addressed. You may have noticed how most advertisements and promotions for the latest iPad of Kindle Fire focus on a collage of best-seller fiction books, movies and TV series. Obviously there are more challenging solutions yet to be finalized in terms of how businesses would deliver an “audit trail” if their entire teams were tablet only, with no email.

Dynamic Language Delivery for Mobile Applications

Another speaker from Adobe, Dirk Meyer (Senior Program Manager, Globalization) presented a fascinating overview and live demonstration of some internal tools developed by Adobe that can dynamically update language in the UI of mobile applications.

Dirk made it clear that these tools are not intended to become commercial competitors to well-established language translation tools.

The concept and SW architecture was quite unique, allowing Dirk to change a few buttons to Polish, have the change published through a remote server in another city, and have his cloud-based application update “live” when refreshed.

Think Mobile, Go Global: Writing Strategically for the Small Screen

My own presentation covered a familiar theme: when confronted with new technology, we humans tend to carry old habits, skills and methods into a new Era that may no longer be effective. Early USA television content turned back to vaudeville to rediscover new stars (they were popular for about 2 years), when Help websites were new, some companies tried to simply convert entire 400 page manuals, assuming that internet visitors had the same attention span as readers of paper and PDF.

Although there are powerful tools, like Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite 4, which can swiftly publish legacy content multiscreen HTML5 for tablets, some content manipulation is required:

Issues around mobile devices continue to grow

Localization World was an enriching and highly worthwhile conference. Due to the growing importance of publishing to mobile devices, many issues related to localization that once seemed esoteric, have now gone mainstream. The language translation industry has dealt with simplified English, reduced word count, and limits on screen real estate in SW user interface for years. All of these issues have become relevant to mobile and tablet publishing.