Specific Difficulties of Waterfall Translation

Waterfall translation is a translation method we are familiar with from its earliest stages in the 80’s, and it is still an essential method in regulated translation when we are dealing with user manuals or legal documents. Waterfall translation’s main feature is to accommodate large volumes of text when the master version is ready. But, using the waterfall solution with game and software’s shorter bursts of translation activity proves to be time-consuming as well as costly.

Waterfall translation is laborious

Waterfall development of games and applications in globalization campaigns usually moves from: concept, to design, to implementation, to testing, to troubleshooting, to localization, then testing again, ending up at publication, operation, and maintenance. In the localization phase, which developers are caught in the middle of, they extract source content from codes and databases very carefully, inputting translations when everything is ready. In turn, project managers find it difficult and tedious to manage large and complicated projects; this is because the different formats of the documents and source files cause numerous complications to the process.

Waterfall translation can be costly and inefficient

The waterfall development process is sequential — once a stage is completed, there is no going back. So, it presents obvious limitations, as it is not conducive to: bug fixes, difficult product updates, high costs, etc. Software designed and implemented under the waterfall method is hard to change in accordance to time constraints and user feedback. The problem can only be solved by fixing bugs and redesigning the entire system — a very costly and inefficient method of quality control.

Waterfall translation delays the product launch

Translation implemented through waterfall method refers to localization that is planned at the very end of a product launch — when all the documentations, UI texts, and voicing arrive at their final versions. The problem is that if any error is found later or caused during the localization process, you have to start from the beginning to fix bugs found in the source code, correcting everywhere it has already been localized — very likely lagging your launch. It could even get worse, a waterfall developed product is difficult to update according to user needs, which is not ideal for improving user experience if there are long-period system maintenances occurring constantly.


Now, each phase of game or software development proceeds with overlapping and iterative steps. Therefore, a project outcome and an extensive plan must be set in the beginning. Embedding translation in the development process is becoming more popular, making the whole process more agile and cost effective.



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