Click here to close now.


Industrial IoT Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Ed Featherston, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT: Article

What Is XLIFF and Why Should I Use It?

A brief overview of the XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF)

Much time, energy, and commitment are required to develop and sell successful software products and Web-based services. Most products of this type are initially developed for a specific language and locale (e.g., U.S. English). To maximize return on investment, products can be customized so they may be available to the largest possible market - the global market. This customization process is known as localization.

Localization includes not only translation of the displayed text, but also adaptation of a product to comply with a country's cultural and legal practices. Examples of cultural conventions include date/time formats, postal address formats, font sizes, appropriateness of colors, numeric or currency formats and symbols, culturally appropriate icons or graphics, etc. The diversity of software platforms and technologies means that tools and technologies that support localization are also diverse and are frequently incompatible with each other. Industry standards drive process and technology efficiencies, and OASIS XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format) has emerged as a standard interchange file format for localization-related data and metadata. This article will introduce the process of localization and summarize the challenges and issues facing those who localize. It will illustrate how XLIFF addresses many of the challenges and issues with descriptions of its architecture, provide examples of how to use it in real life, and discuss how it was developed and where it goes from here.

Localization: A Brief Overview
Having a product available in a different language increases the potential market into which it can be sold. Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle earn more than 60 percent of their sales from international markets. IBM recently reported that 70 percent of Web users speak a primary language other English. Within the United States, 18 percent of the population speak a language other than English at home. The Canadian Translation Bureau has reported that Canada represents 4 to 8 percent of the global translation services market with only 0.5 percent of the world's population.

The software localization industry was born in the mid 1980s as a result of the personal computer revolution. Early projects were very engineering intensive. Software developers would usually throw the final version of the application over the proverbial wall and expect the localization team to do the rest. The user interface and functional code were in the same file, which meant that functionality problems would often be introduced during the translation process. Before translation could begin, a software engineer would first need to change the character set code pages to ensure that software could be translated into the target language. Separating code from the UI required significant software development and localization resources. Physically and logically partitioning the UI data into separate resource containers reduced the severity and frequency of functionality defects introduced by the localization process.

The introduction of the Unicode character set standard and the growing emphasis on internationalization as a standard component of the software engineering practice was a very significant benefit to reducing the time and cost of localization. Internationalization is the process of developing software in such a way that it can run in different international environments without adapting or recompiling the code. Unicode introduced a common character set code page, and it is one of the corner-stones of software internationalization. The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) specifications and guidelines have addressed localization issues such as the separation of code and UI, character set issues, and date and time formatting. Cultural and economic factors are motivating many organizations to design and adapt their products for delivery to the global markets.

Today global markets are not content to wait months or even weeks for locally adapted software to be made available to them, so localization must now be done in parallel with the core product development. "Throwing software over the wall" to be localized after a product is sold is no longer an option.

The Internet introduces new challenges into the localization process by enabling more complex distribution models. Products and content are rolled out simultaneously throughout the global markets. The proliferation of diverse architectural frameworks and technologies upon which Internet and e-business applications are built has resulted in different degrees of complexity in both the core development and in localization.

Throughout its history, the localization industry addressed these business challenges through improvements in tools and processes delivered by competing vendors. Their solutions addressed specific technical or process requirements, but were rarely interoperable, which often resulted in vendor lock-in. With XLIFF, the localization industry got together to find a solution to some of the challenges that the industry is now facing.

Localization Challenges Addressed by XLIFF
XLIFF has already provided solutions to difficult localization challenges, including the following.

Challenge: Many different file formats to localize - The typical localization project is composed of data stored within many unique resource formats. Building tools to support the localization of these formats is costly and inefficient.

Solution: Transform or extract all localizable resources, regardless of native format, into XLIFF containers. For example, before XLIFF existed, one major database and enterprise software vendor localized 32 unique resource formats. Some of the formats were proprietary, others were legacy, but most were industry standards (i.e., Java List Resource and Property Resource Bundles, Windows RC Data, .html, .jsp, and various XML). Additionally, each new release introduced additional resource formats, usually XML-based, but each required extensive retooling of the localization tools, which lead to quality problems and scheduling delays. To reduce the retooling work and its consequences, the core development teams were given the responsibility of extracting or transforming the new resource formats to XLIFF before handing off for translation. Three years and three major releases later, the number of unique resource formats supported by the localization tools was reduced from 32 to a much more manageable 17. Additionally, by adopting XLIFF, the tools development team was able to shift resources that had been dedicated to retooling onto building new cost-saving enhancements such as XLIFF's built-in suggested translations features. Listing 1 is an example of a Java properties file and its XLIFF representation.

Challenge: Lack of version management metadata in native resource containers - Localization projects often run concurrently with core development projects, which means that resource files will be made of up of multiple versions or milestones. Version management at the segment level (a segment is the smallest discrete unit of translatable text) is a very useful feature if your goal is to maximize the reuse of previous translations. Web content is often dynamic, and multilingual content must be kept in sync in order to maintain quality. Few if any native resource containers provide a means of tracking the version of the content.

Solution: XLIFF provides metadata structures for tracking versions of source and translated content.

Challenge: Lack of workflow metadata in native resources - During the localization process, data passes through many different hands. Data to be localized is typically externalized by software publishers and handed off to a localization service provider, who in turn may hand it over to translation subcontractors. At each stage of the process, the types of data required are unique to the particular phase (source/target text, Translation Memory, Machine Translation, Termbase, etc.). Introducing automation into a development process saves money and resources and improves quality by ensuring the reproducibility of the process. Native resource files don't usually contain mechanisms for tracking the stage of the process at which changes were introduced to the localization process.

More Stories By Peter Reynolds

Peter Reynolds is manager of the software development team at the Dublin, Ireland office of Bowne Global Solutions (BGS), the leading provider of localization and translation solution. Peter and his team are responsible for developing some of the software that BGS use to run their business, including Elcano, the online translation service, and myInfoShare, the online project collaboration workspace. Peter has been working on XLIFF since its inception and is a founder member and secretary of the OASIS XLIFF Technical Committee. He also chairs the OASIS Translation Web Services Technical Committee.

More Stories By Tony Jewtushenko

Tony Jewtushenko is the founding and present chair of the XLIFF TC as well as the director of R&D for Product Innovator (, a Dublin, Ireland-based consultancy that provides product management, process improvement, localization, and internationalization services to software companies.
During his 23-year career, Tony was a key contributor to dozens of releases of successful commercial software products, including Lotus 1-2-3 and Notes, Oracle JDeveloper, and iDS. His multinational work and life experience spans USA, Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...