Published on February 28, 2014
Why Localization Standards Chase Tingley Spartan Software, Inc
“I find it rather puzzling that this small industry has such difficulties designing robust standards.” - Anon L10n Technologist
Carl Cargill, “Why Standardization Efforts Fail” (2011) Six major categories of standards failure: 1. The standard fails to get started. 2. Lack of consensus / deadlock during standard creation. 3. “Feature creep” causes the standard to miss the market opportunity. 4. Standard is finished and the market ignores it. 5. Standard is finished, implementations are incompatible. 6. The standard is accepted and is used to manage the market. (IP encumberance) Source: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0014.103
Feature Creep Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/8490121138/
Feature Creep “The most frequent use of feature creep in a standards committee is by organizations that have an implementation that is very similar to the proposed specification except for “a little bit extra here….” Do this ten times, and suddenly you have a bloated spec or a spec that just plain can’t work.” Source: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0014.103
What’s contributed to feature creep in L10n? ● Many of our standards are driven by existing implementations. ● Implementers are reluctant to modify existing versions: ○ Fear of loss of competitive advantage ○ Disrupt installed user base ○ Lack of engineering resources ● Tension between academic and commercial interests
Incompatible Implementations Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rikomatic/5610683006
Incompatible Implementations “In software standards, there is almost always ambiguity, usually through omission. If an attribute is poorly (or sometimes, not at all) defined in the specification, or if the statement lends itself to ambiguity, there is a possibility that the implementers will choose a different response or implementation than that which was originally intended. Source: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0014.103
What’s contributed to incompatibility in L10n? ● Specification ambiguities / optional behaviors ● Lack of reference implementations to clarify intended behaviors ● Lack of test suites / certification process to guarantee compatibility ● Difficulties in modifying existing implementations ● Feature creep has compounded the problem!
Solutions (Recommendations, really.)
Make smaller standards. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelheiss/3090102907/
Make smaller standards ● Decompose complex problems into smaller buildingblocks ● Avoid “one-size-fits-all” solutions ● Simplify individual solutions and implementations ● Allow standardized components to be reused, creating network effects ● Separate academic and commercial concerns
Let buyers drive the bus. Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/swthomson/3759243339/ Used with permission.
Who do standards benefit the most? Not tool vendors! ● Standards constrain functionality ● Standards make software components interchangeable ● Standards reduce tool lock-in Not LSPs! ● Many LSPs regard any technology they possess as competitive advantage. ● Standards reduce LSP lock-in.
Translation buyers have the most to gain! ● Standards streamline supply chains, reducing cost. ● Standards allow for flexibility in tool choice. ● Standards limit lock-in at the data and process level, allowing for flexibility in vendor choice.
The industry needs more buyer pressure ● Identify core use cases and technologies that should be commoditized ● Seek strict standards that drive tool functionality, not vice- versa ● Increase collaboration between buyers to ensure compliance and interoperability ● Think of $$ spent on standards development as long-term investment to reduce OPEX
Thank You! Chase Tingley firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @ctatwork
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