Localization Tasks: What do writers do?

Subject: Localization Tasks: What do writers do?
From: Jonathan Piasecki <Jonathan -dot- Piasecki -at- hummingbird -dot- com>
To: "'techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 17:24:43 -0400

Hello All -

I'm looking for information on how technical writing departments handle the
localization of documentation. (A variation of this message has been posed
to the WWP Users Yahoo! Group with some WebWorks Publisher-specific

For what tasks are the writers responsible?

Do your writers process the translated material (such as create PDFs or
compile helps)?

Who manages the overall translation effort -- the documentation team or
other departments and staff?

How much of your documentation set do you translate?

How does the cost of translation affect the decisions made on which
documents to translate?

I'm looking to compare notes on this to gauge the success of our recent
localization project. We're just completing a release where we've translated
about 25 documents into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, and
Japanese. All are published as online help in various formats through
WebWorks Publisher 2003. About six documents are also published as PDF

Our FrameMaker files are sent to a localization vendor. Our writers receive
the translated files and create PDFs and help systems. We do a visual review
of the formatting to ensure that the finished documents look OK, but we do
not proofread the translated text. One of the reasons we went to WebWorks
Publisher was to allow us to move this sort of processing in-house, rather
than pay the translation vendor to compile the helps and create PDFs.
Technically, I think that the process worked very well. We did get hung up,
though, on queries from the translators - we seemed to spend a lot of time
clarifying things for the translators, tracking down errors and omissions in
the documents, and assisting the translators when they were not familiar
with how some things work in FrameMaker. I'm wondering if this is typical of
what others experience.

I am curious to know if other writers have worked on projects of similar
scope and how things were handled, and if any problems were encountered
along the way.


Jonathan Piasecki

Technical Writer

Hummingbird Ltd.

1 Sparks Avenue,

Toronto, Ontario, M2H 2W1, Canada

416 496 2200 ext 2102

jonathan -dot- piasecki -at- hummingbird -dot- com


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