It is necessary to establish a translation methodology when creating international products. We forged and followed this strategy while partnering with SolidWorks Corp., a leading provider of mechanical CAD software tools on the Windows platforms.
Importance of Translation Methodology
As software companies focus on their core competencies, they steadily become more receptive to the idea of outsourcing non-salient requirements to partners and vendors. With time-to-market pressures increasing, one area of obvious consideration is the outsourcing of some or all of the software localization and translation activities.
Software localization vendors create and maintain voluminous glossary databases and specialize in software localization and translation issues. Therefore, they are well equipped to handle large volumes of translation in short periods of time. Since translation is often the critical path in all software localization projects, outsourcing will help expedite the completion of the software localization efforts and possibly enable simultaneous releases of English and foreign language versions.
Typical Translation Methodology
A typical translation methodology may include some or all of the following steps:
- Translation. Translation of UI resource files, online help, manuals, release notes, install files, etc…
- Resizing dialog boxes. Resizing the UI dialog boxes, since often foreign languages are more verbose than English.
- Review. The review of all translations by a second translator and/or translation project manager.
- Compilation. Compilation of DLLs, HLP files, CHM files…
- Glossary/Translation database generation. Glossaries/Translation databases aid in maintaining consistency and reducing the translation workload.
- Bitmap Localization. Translation of bitmaps and graphics.
- Desktop Publishing (DTP). Preparation of manuals for printing vendor.
- HTML/PDF generation. Conversion of manuals from other formats for easy end-user access, either electronically or on the Internet.
- Testing. Testing the localized application on the target operating system.
- Quality Assurance (QA). Documentation of tests and issues related to the localization effort.
A Successful Translation Methodology
SolidWorks, a leading provider of Mechanical CAD tools on the Windows platforms, has permanent staff assigned to the localization of the resource files and online help. Through its partnership with GlobalVision International, Inc., SolidWorks outsources some of the localization efforts (manuals). This enables SolidWorks to simultaneously release its software in 13 languages. The software it uses in the localization process includes translation management systems (TMS), gvConnector, RC-WinTrans, XMetaL, FrameMaker, Trados Workbench and Collage Complete.
To insure that we synchronize our efforts with SolidWorks and to minimize unnecessary translation efforts, we adopted a translation methodology that integrates our tasks together while leveraging each company’s work and expertise.
Steps Involved in the Methodology
- SolidWorks staff translates the English GUI resource files using RC-WinTrans. SolidWorks staff compiles the resource files and sends the localized GUI DLLs to the QA group for testing.
- GlobalVision has automated the import of GUI terminology from RC-WinTrans into the TMS, GlobalVision’s online translation management system. Everyday, gvConnector uploads all new files to the TMS and stores them into the terminology database for the benefit of all GlobalVision’s translators. The use of these glossaries insures consistency between the Graphical User Interface (GUI), the supporting online help and other documentation. All this while minimizing translators’ uncertainty and research of terminology. Properly preparing a glossary can save translators as much as 20% of the translation time necessary to perform research. This cuts down significantly on the translation period.
- SolidWorks staff localizes bitmaps and graphics in the manuals using Collage Complete. GlobalVision’s professional layout staff will then incorporate these images into the manuals.
- GlobalVision uses the glossaries in conjunction with Trados Translation Workbench, a translation manager tool, to build a database while translating the manuals and help. Using a Translation Manager, with database building and searching is a major efficiency enabler for the translation team. The benefits include:
- One tool to use regardless of the input format. This will enable translators to master one environment very well and continue to use it regardless of the format of the text needing translation. Translators can ignore the intricate working details of XML, FrameMaker, Quark, PageMaker… or any other DTP tool. They will not have to deal with different font, layout, formats, or other DTP related issues, other than working around the markup present in the text. This will save much time during the final DTP stages
- Consistency. As translators translate, the source and translated text automatically goes into a database that is continuously searched for matches. This insures consistency in the translation, within one translator’s work and between different translators, when they are commonly sharing databases.
- Repeat and reuse. Identical sentence segments that occur throughout the text do not need to be constantly retranslated. Since the database is always searched, they are automatically found and translated. If the match is fuzzy (i.e. not exact), the translator can reuse the text, often with slight modifications.
All the translators involved in each of the languages can leverage the translation database throughout the entire project. Once a database is available it can be processed by eliminating any unnecessary tags and then reused in the translation of other supporting manuals or online help files.
Once the manuals’ translations are finished, they are reviewed and the final result is optimized for layout in the proper DTP tool.
GlobalVision delivers translated manuals in FrameMaker format to SolidWorks. SolidWorks staff edits the manuals and informs GlobalVision of any terminology changes.
GlobalVision updates the translation database and sends the corrected version to SolidWorks.
SolidWorks staff uses Trados, the translation database, in conjunction with RoboHelp to translate and subsequently compile the online help. Online Help files have much in common with other manuals since they all describe the operation of the same application. Much of the database via exact or fuzzy matches can be reused expediting the translation of the online help files. This process has saved SolidWorks 50 percent of the time previously required to translate and/or update the online help files.
Final QA. GlobalVision’s quality assurance experts will then perform one final review of the help and manuals to ensure correctness.
Process is King
Establishing a comprehensive product localization process between a software company and its localization vendor is critical to reducing costs and time to market, while maintaining the desired quality level and control.
A localization process may not be a core competency for a software company. Don’t you think however that it is a core competency that your localization vendor should have?
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