Software engineering, and more specifically localization engineering takes a certain kind of individual. It most certainly isn’t for everyone. Most people who get into the field develop an aversion to the machines after a short period of time and only use them on the clock or when asked. Their hearts may have been in the right place, but when facing the tedious, more arduous side of engineering, they’d rather be anywhere else than in front of the monitor.
The role of the engineer in the localization industry is multifaceted. Most people not in tune with the translation and localization industry may not realize this team member’s importance or even if an engineer is necessary. After all we are translating words and text. However, when you take into consideration the multiple applications in which the text can be written and the different software platforms that they can be built upon, then it’s obvious that an engineer with experience in software is necessary.
Amongst troubleshooting needs that may arise when working in different software environments, there are specific areas where an engineer lends his expertise to the localization team. Up front, prior to the project starting, the project manager and the linguist count on the engineer do perform a complete analysis of the software documentation that will be translated. This includes running the text through a software tool which compares it to existing translation memory and recognizes any repetitious segments. This leverage is used by the linguist for consistency and by the account manager for cost reduction. Also included in this analysis are specifics regarding the layout and format of the document(s). Considerations must be made if there is text within any images or graphics as part of the documentation as well as overall layout concerns, such as fonts or directionality of text, for different target languages and text.
During a project, the project manager will look to the engineer to complete the desktop publishing work, if necessary, and/or handle any web specific needs and platforms if the project calls for this. Again, handling different software language such as xml, html, RoboHelp, and others all fall under the job requirements of the localization engineer. A verifiable Jack of all Trades with the requirement of mastering each and every engineering need.