Re: Localization Tasks: What do writers do?

Subject: Re: Localization Tasks: What do writers do?
From: wanda <wanda -dot- jane -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Jonathan Piasecki <Jonathan -dot- Piasecki -at- hummingbird -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 14:21:17 -0700

Jonathan Piasecki wrote:

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?

We create the English source content. We're available for questions or issues that come up during translation.

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

No. Our writers don't even do processing for the English source. English processing is handled by Pubs Specialists; other languages are handled by the translation agency.

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

A part of the tech comm team handles all localization: interface and manuals.

How much of your documentation set do you translate?

All user documentation. Six primary products with an average of 4 types of user manuals (Help, Getting Started, Reference, and Quick Guides).

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

Not so much which documents but which languages. We have Tier One languages where translation is required, Tier Two languages where translation is required only if we sell systems into the country, and Tier Three languages that we avoid using (the country will accept another Tier One or Tier Two language for the user documentation or interface, or both).

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.

Our biggest problem is getting the English source for the Help done in time to get it translated, processed, and integrated into the software build for validation. We have more time for the printed content.
The next biggest problem is the cost of having the formatting done. The translators don't use FrameMaker, they export from Frame as RTF, work with Translation Memory, and then a DTP expert at the agency reformats the content in Frame. We have a process whereby the translation-coordinator organizes all questions, submits them to the writer, the writer responds (and sometimes updates the English source for the next release), and so on. We end up doing very little round-tripping that way.
Over time, the translators know the products as well as the writers.
We're working on restructuring our process so that we're using XML objects. We're looking at automating some of the production using our CMS. Ideally, we'd send only the objects needing translation work, dump the results back in the CMS, and run a CHM and PDF out of that.
We'll see. Lots of possibilities and few resources for implementing them.


Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos. Or better, let us consider them cancelled. Coldly, let us be intelligent.
Pierre Trudeau
Canadian politician (1919 - 2000)


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Localization Tasks: What do writers do?: From: Jonathan Piasecki

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