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Translation and JSON files

Localization is the easiest way to reach a larger audience for your application. Users not only prefer apps in their language but also appreciate a personal and localized touch relevant to their country and culture. Regardless of how you want to translate your app, using specialized tools or simply hiring a freelance translator, it’s prudent to prepare yourself for that.


JSON or JavaScript Object Notation is one of the most popular data exchange formats used today. It is a syntax for storing and exchanging information between systems over the internet, most commonly between a server and a web application, using attribute-value pairs. Well that was more of a wikipedia-like definition, let's break it down to make things simpler:

  • unlike other formats it's easy to understand for both machines and humans
  • it’s completely independent of platforms and can be used for websites, apps, games etc.
  • although it originated from JavaScript it is language independent and many modern languages are set up specifically to generate and parse JSON-format data

JSON for l10n and i18n

Seeing as it’s universal in terms of both platform and language it’s easy to understand why JSON has become the standard for localization (l10n) and internationalization (i18n). Regardless of how you want to translate your app, and even if you don’t, it’s good to keep content in JSON files just in case you change your mind in the future, and to keep a clear file structure. When you do decide on localizing your app you will have the full range of solutions at your disposal and the whole process will be a lot simpler and less time consuming:

  • online translators like Google Translate API will quickly translate JSON files and create new files containing the translations in the chosen language
  • a professional translator or translation company will also have a much easier job dealing with JSON files (they also use professional tools to speed up the process)
  • using a professional localization tool will not only instantly translate all the app content into every chosen supported language, but will also automatically handle continuous translation as your application changes and grows

Picking the optimal solution

While using free online translators might look like the easy pick here, their quality is often a mixed bag, which can mean additional work in the shape of checking and fixing errors. Additionally you’ll need to repeat that process every time you make some change or update or if you decide on translating into additional languages, which can be a hassle. Similarly hiring freelancers or a professional translation company while usually guaranteeing high quality translations, will also require repeating the process with every new bit of translation required. While that might not be a problem for business websites which don't change much over time, it can be a big issue for applications receiving regular updates. In that case the best solution is using professional localization tools which will completely automate that entire process and save you all the trouble. Yes the algorithms are still not as good as a professional human translator with expert knowledge of all the nuances of a particular language but the advantages in cost and time saved can often easily outweigh that.

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