Translation Archives | Rubric

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A Translation Management System (TMS) aids localization by automating parts of the translation process, centralizing resources, and simplifying workflows. But establishing what features you really need and considering the many options available, it’s difficult to choose one that ticks all of the operational boxes. From file format and user access, to translator visibility of context and CAT compatibility, the considerations can seem endless.

 

Gather key stakeholders early on

Identify the stakeholders and understand what is the problem you are trying to solve. Collect data on the scale and cost of that problem. Stakeholders should agree on who will use the system, what’s required of it, and whether the business actually needs one. It’s a fine balance of cost, functionality, and interoperability:

  • Do you need your TMS to function both offline and online?
  • Can the TMS integrate with your CMS?
  • How will the integration of glossary checks and customizable QA tools affect compatibility with the existing CAT system?
  • How much support will your internal team need from the TMS suppliers?
  • Do you have the budget and resources necessary to operate on your own?

Taking on TMS administration is a complex endeavor that could cause workflow bottlenecks and drain resources. Consider enlisting the services of a Global Content Partner. Typically, these professionals will be expert at using an internal TMS, allowing you to leverage their skills and experience.

 

What are your operational requirements?

The translation files and what the system is expected to do with them are crucial factors in selecting a TMS. For example, can content be translated in its native format? By minimizing the need for file conversions, you reduce the risk of compatibility glitches.

It really boils down to a business management decision: do you utilize a traditional, developer-friendly localization process, or do you need an advanced set of features that make the translation process easier for non-technical stakeholders, like content marketers?

 

What level of support do you need?

From the outset, companies should identify and prioritize their needs against the costs of development and maintenance.

Weigh up the value of each feature against your localization process to better understand potential ROI and total economic impact (TEI). A crucial consideration is whether you can afford to take on the management and maintenance of a TMS yourself, or if your business would be better served by enlisting the help of a Global Content Partner and their own TMS.

Because a range of TMSs are available — each with varying degrees of development and configuration support — it’s incumbent upon the business to assess each tool and decide if the “out of the box” features suit their content ecosystem and budget. As the system is provided by an external supplier, IT maintenance and software updates may be infrequent or fall short of a business’s requirements.

 

Complete support relies on trust

When in doubt, trust your Global Content Partner and their tried-and-tested TMS.

A Global Content Partner offers full support in establishing a managed and easy-to-maintain translation process, bringing their expertise and experience to the table and taking much of the burden and stress from your plate.

By weighing up the costs and features of a TMS against your needs and wants, Rubric can help you make an informed decision. Partnering with us means reduced overheads, as you can leverage our skills, our knowledge, our own TMS, and our bespoke process-building capabilities. We take pride in supporting our clients and giving them a better understanding of their localization needs.

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Ian Henderson
May 14, 2019
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Technical writing invariably involves a great deal of content reuse. If you’ve ever authored technical documents across multiple products and projects for the same organization, you’ve undoubtedly found yourself repeating elements of text and style many times over.

Streamlining this content reuse can be one of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your authoring and localization processes. And, with the right tools and strategy, it’s easier than you might think.

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an open standard, XML-based architecture for writing and publishing technical documents, and it was built from the ground up to support content reuse. DITA encourages a modular approach to technical writing where topics – the basic units of information within DITA – are capable of standing alone and being reused in many different documents. The focus is on content rather than layout, with the goal of maximizing reuse to save time and resources.

DITA was originally developed by IBM almost 20 years ago. It has received numerous updates since then, and it is experiencing a renaissance with the release of new tools and Lightweight DITA – a simplified version for those that do not require the full feature set, or prefer to work in HTML5 or Markdown.

Switching from traditional word editors to DITA can seem like a daunting prospect, but if used correctly, DITA is an invaluable tool that drives effective writing and localization. That’s why we’ve put together this article to give you some tips on how to get started.

 

The right tools

The first stage in any DITA implementation is choosing your tooling. If you’re new to the architecture and looking to explore its potential, the DITA Open Toolkit is an excellent starting point for experimentation. It’s a free, open-source publishing engine, and it actually serves as the foundation for much of the DITA software ecosystem – including many of the most popular, proprietary authoring and content management applications.

Oxygen XML Editor 21.0 interface
Oxygen XML Editor 21.0 interface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re ready to implement DITA in earnest, tools such as Oxygen XML Editor are the natural next step. This kind of software provides an easy-to-use visual interface for creating and editing technical documentation, much like a typical word processor. But unlike a word processor, these tools come with built-in DITA support, enabling writers to manage their modular content units and effortlessly reuse them via content references.

Content References can be used to pull a huge variety of previously-created content into a new project. This can range from a single phrase, to a topic, to an entire collection of connected content.

 

Don’t let localization be an afterthought

The benefits of DITA aren’t limited to the initial authoring process – it can also significantly streamline localization. The key here is to make sure that you factor in localization right from the outset.

Content created in DITA can be easily converted to XLIFF for translation. But before you get to that point, there are a number of things you can do to make your content more localization-friendly:

  • Write in International English rather than American or British English. Avoid colloquial expressions, idioms, and overly complex sentences.
  • Determine whether there is anything that should not be translated, such as lists of parameters and part numbers. Most DITA tools will give you the option to flag this content for exclusion, which can make a huge difference to localization costs by reducing the scope of work.
  • In cases where you need to customize your content for different products within a range – or for different outputs for the same product (e.g. PDF manual vs online help manual) – use DITA’s conditional text feature to clearly indicate which content should vary, and in what way.
  • Develop a glossary to precisely define terms, especially acronyms and abbreviations.
  • Consider using a controlled language (for instance, Simplified Technical English) with a limited vocabulary and fixed style guidelines. This will improve the consistency of your content and minimize the risk of ambiguity for localization service providers.
  • Use the SVG format for images that include annotations or callout text. SVG graphics are the easiest to edit with computer-assisted translation tools.

Following these suggestions from the start of a project will enable you to move seamlessly from the initial content creation to localization. And once the localization is complete, you will be able to use a DITA publishing engine to generate deliverables for each of your target languages with just a few simple commands. Authors simply have to create and follow well-defined layout rules, and DITA takes care of the rest.

An additional advantage to using DITA for localization is that after a topic has been translated once, it does not have to be translated again – reducing both cost and turnaround times in localization when content is reused.

 

Leverage the experts

Working with experienced specialists is the best way to guarantee a smooth DITA adoption and avoid localization complications. At Rubric, our experts know DITA inside and out, and they are ready to provide their best practice expertise to help you plan your DITA implementation strategy.

Send us some of your own collateral and we can advise on DITA best practices! After clicking, attach some of your source documents to your email and Ian Henderson, our CTO, will reach out with some tips and guidance to help you embed structured authoring and simplify your content management.

Stay tuned for the next couple of weeks as we cover Content Authoring, Product Information Management (PIM) systems and other topics that can help drive your localization strategy.


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How translation memory cuts costs and elevates Global Content

As digital information expands, translation memory (TM) evolves with it. And today, TM systems are the most used translation applications in the world. A TM system is a complex undertaking that requires a particular skill set.

What is translation memory? In short, translation memory is a comprehensive database that recycles previous translations to be used in new text. By leveraging past translations, a translator can assess whether an automatically generated suggestion is appropriate for the text they’re adapting.

Uwe Reinke of Cologne University of Applied Sciences explains it as such:

“The idea behind its core element, the actual “memory” or translation archive, is to store the originals and their human translations of e-content in a computer system, broken down into manageable units, generally one sentence long. Over time, enormous collections of sentences and their corresponding translations are built up in the systems.”

This process not only saves time and effort, but maintains a high level of quality and consistency across Global Content projects.

The key benefits of translation memory

  • Cumulative savings

    A TM database “learns” from previous projects. When you begin a new one, the new text is segmented and analyzed against past translations to produce matches in your database. Over time, the accumulation of translation memory “knowledge” decreases costs on future translations, while expanding the depth of your text database.

  • Quick Turnaround

    Rubric was tasked with delivering a new level of weather personalization and global localization with AccuWeather’s Universal Forecast Database. From English to Korean, Rubric was able to reduce 1,000,000 words for translation to just 50,000. And though it took a year, we consider the completion of a project this vast to be quick turnaround. For further information about AccuWeather, keep reading.

  • Superior translations

    TM also aids in a translator’s accuracy and output. By aligning your business’s vocabulary, tone, and style, you give a translator the foundation they need to produce high quality translations.

The role of machine translation in translation memory

Simply put, machine translation (MT) is the automation of the translation process by computer. Where translation memory requires a human translator, machine translation is used in combination with TM to hasten project delivery without the need for human input.

There are a number of MT engines available:

  • Generic

    Google Translate, Bing, and similar are grouped here. These platforms provide quick translations to millions of people around the world and can be purchased by companies for API-integration into their systems.

  • Customizable

    An MT element that can be used to improve the accuracy of a business’s vocabulary within a specific field, be it medical, legal, or financial. Customizable MT can factor in a company’s own style and lexicon too.

  • Adaptive

    Introduced by Lilt in 2016, followed by SDL a year later, adaptive MT has greatly improved a translator’s output and is expected to challenge TM in the coming years.

In all cases, MT will attempt to create translated sentences from what it’s learned. For example, it may parse two or three TM matches and automatically combine them to complete a sentence. The result is often the kind of garbled, ungrammatical translation Google Translate produces at times. Because of this risk, a human translator should be available to audit and edit the results for project success.

Gaining efficiencies from large, repetitive texts such as product catalogues is an art that Rubric excels at. We analyze and filter texts to breakdown the component phrases and reduce the unique text for translation. Here’s how we introduce the human element into the act of translation.

How does Rubric use translation memory?

We briefly mentioned our involvement in AccuWeather’s Universal Forecast Database. Through content analysis and manipulation, we were able to translate an exhaustive database of weather phrases into form forecasts such as “sunny, mostly clear, with changing clouds in the afternoon”. Because the component phrase ‘sunny’ was repeated in the file thousands of times, we wanted to ensure we leveraged one translation for all of the repetitions to save costs. We achieved this by translating the above example phrase and ‘sunny’ separately.

Translators were then able to focus on the unique component phrases, while checking them against full weather forecast phrases for grammatical accuracy. With this approach we were able to reduce the scope of the database project from 1,000,000 words to around 50,000. The resultant savings in both cost and time were staggering.

Previous translations where the source text is identical to the new text, or partially matches it, can also be stored in translation memory. In either case, the TM will propose any matching database entries for the translator to use as they see fit.

TM can also be programmed to store translations by product. This is vital for when you have a new product and want to prioritize the order of multiple product TMs to assess how appropriate multiple translations would be. For example, using Windows XP terminology versus Windows 8, or Android terminology against iOS.

 

 

Rubric is a customer-centric, Global Content Partner. We partner with multinational companies to help them achieve their global strategy goals. Need help expanding globally? A trusted Global Content Partner will guide, expand, and strengthen the quality and impact of your translation. Sign up for a two-day workshop where we’ll analyze actual content examples from your business to show you how we can house, maintain and manipulate your TMs in a structured, consistent way across markets.


Françoise Henderson
October 19, 2018
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As a Global Content Partner, we often help our clients with a variety of translation and localization services. In doing so, one question always tends to rear its head: “What is your turnaround time?”

It’s fair question to ask, especially when a client has been burned in past — all it takes is one translation company to miss a deadline and then pile on the excuses for a client to err on the side of caution from then on out. The thing is, there are a lot more factors at play than one might realize, especially if you haven’t worked with each other before.

With this in mind, this blog post should help you manage expectations when it comes to translation turnaround times from a localization services provider.

Communication and transparency are non-negotiable

While unexpected issues may arise that delay or prolong a given translation job, you should never be left in the dark. Leaving a client hanging when an agreed-upon deadline as passed is never acceptable, no matter what. Even if a delay is inevitable, your service provider should notify you as soon as this becomes likely — and always well in advance of the deadline.

In our experience, clients are very understandable when a problem arises, and a solution needs to be found. As long as you’re fully transparent and it’s clear that you’re working with them and not against them.

Turnaround times generally improve over time

The first time you work with a localization service provider, the initially provided turnaround time is a lot harder to accurately predict. This is because time needs to be factored in to find suitable linguists, who can then be used for future translation projects. It’s also important to have a comprehensive style guide to inform and guide the translation process; however, this can take time to develop if you don’t have one readily available.

A glossary of key terms and their equivalent translations plays a key role in any translation process. This will inevitably be a work in progress, with new terms being added as the need arises, but its initial compilation phase can be an unpredictably lengthy and exhaustive process. That being said, once the glossary is up and running, the entire translation process will speed up.

Another key factor to remember is that the translation memory needs time to build up. This will progressively reduce the time needed to translate, as well as improve consistency across translations as previously approved translations can be reused.

How to get the most from a Global Content Partner

The best way to ensure a clear turnaround time without any surprises is to give your provider as much notice as possible ahead of the translation job. This is because great translators need to be booked well in advance; while they might have space for small projects at short notice, larger projects need significantly more time and planning.

Source content usually takes some time to create, so it’s important to let your Global Content Partner know about your translation requirements. This will allow them to plan and allocate resources appropriately. If there is a genuine rush — we know these things can happen — a trusted Global Content Partner will bend over backwards to make it happen; and if not, at least suggest a viable alternative.

If you’re interested in building a relationship with a Global Content Partner that you can trust to deliver, get in touch with a member of the Rubric team today.

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash


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While many newer systems include a wider set of languages, an underlying issue with “out of the box” translations is that they often don’t factor location into the base system. For example, there are subtle differences between French spoken in France, and Québécois in Canada, especially when you factor in colloquialism. Another example: a company might buy a 3rd party system that comes with existing translations, but they don’t know how to make use of them effectively. And even if they’re translated from the outset, there will likely be modifications needed afterwards.


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