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Thursday, February 24, 2005

First Demo

I spent the last two 2.5 months sitting in front from of my keyboard and screen: Coding, coding, coding... It's very exciting and motivating to see AppTranslator growing and getting more and more capable. But I've reached a point where my productivity decreases quite dramatically. I guess I've simply have enough of coding all day long and I need to change my mind. Time to remember than starting an ISV company is not only a technical job !

A few days ago, a friend of mine started to work on the design of the website. Yes, I know ! The current home page is... Is 'overwhelming' enough to qualify it ? :-(
Anyway, this should change soon (Here's a draft. The animation will disappear though. It was only a test.). She did a good job at designing a nice though simple template. I showed it to a couple of people and the opinions are generally favorable. Everybody finds it cool but say it lacks a logo. Of course, it lacks a logo! The good news is that I signed up with the logo designer earlier today. Hopefully, the result will be nice. I'm really excited about this logo job. Hey, my baby is healthy but I want it handsome as well :-)

First Demo

Yesterday, I made my first AppTranslator demo to a few friends. Obviously, the result is beyond their expectation. And you know what ? It's really cool when people are impressed by your demos :-)

I used Notepad as the sample program to be localized. There are quite a few nice things with using Notepad to demo AppTranslator:

  1. It's a very simple program including a little bit of everything (A menu, a couple of dialogs, a short string table, an icon,...).
  2. People in the audience all know Notepad so they can more easily concentrate on AppTranslator because the amount of stuff new to them is reduced. It kind of increases the signal/noise ratio, which is one of the most important thing in a demo: Audience brains get distracted way too easily so you must do your best to avoid as many interferences as possible.
  3. If I need to make the demo on a computer that isn't yours, I'm sure Notepad is installed and you can very easily find it in the Windows directory. There's nothing worse than someone who can't get his demo started because a file is missing!

Documentation for the beta testers

A problem I foresee with the first beta tests is the lack of documentation. I made my best to make AppTranslator as easy to use as possible (More about this in a future post about how to make self-selling software). Still no documentation or online help at all is... well... not good !

Rather than typing some quick and dry Getting Started text, I figured I could set up a quick and dirty multi-media demo that people could watch or download from the site. I remember some time ago, I gave Camtasia Studio a try and it looked impressive. I'll give it a try to set up an AppTranslator demo that beta testers and (other potential clients) can use as a Getting Started help. It will show you the lifecycle and workflow of the process from the creation of the project to the output of the final translated exe (and more!).

Sunday, February 20, 2005

How to add support for different languages to an application ?

This question was posted on the WinDev mailing list a few days ago.

When you need to translate a text (say a Word document), the process is simple :

1. You send the file to the translator by e-mail (The translator may be a colleague, a friend, a professional translator,...).
2. The translator double-clicks the attached file in the mail. Word opens up.
3. She starts translating the text.
4. When done, she closes Word and sends you back the translated file.

Now what if the document you want to translate is your latest killer app ? Let's review the process :

1. Send the file by e-mail.
Huh! Which file ? The .exe ? The installer ? The source code (oh no...) ?

2. The translator double-clicks the file.
Er... She's launching the app then ! OK, why not... Let's see what happens next.

3. She starts translating the text.
Ah! And how does she do that ? How does that translate the texts in the app's menu ? Does she use a hammer to modify the menu items text ?

4. She sends you back the translation.
According to the result of the previous 3 steps, prepare to wait some time until she gets here.

Wouldn't it be nice if, when the translator double-clicks the file you sent her, some kind of editor opens up and let her translate all the visual elements of your app (menus, dialogs, strings,...). If we had that tool, translating an app would be the same job as translating a Word document.

And how would we call such an editor ? OK, let's see... What does it do ? It takes an app and lets you translate it. An... App Translator, actually.

My name is Serge Wautier. A few months ago, I decided to start-up my own company in order to create AppTranslator, because up to now, translating your app has been way too tedious a process.

Stay tuned: In the upcoming posts, I'll tell you more about AppTranslator, localization and life as an ISV founder.