decision trees and localization

Subject: decision trees and localization
From: Kathleen Johnson <Kathleen -dot- Johnson -at- visionsolutions -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2013 10:35:17 -0500

I have a bunch of decision trees in our documentation. By decision tree, I mean a series of questions and answers that leads our users to a specific component within our application. I've created all but one of the decision trees in Microsoft Visio and saved them to SVG files. The Visio trees are more visual - the first question is in a box at the top with arrows leading to the next row of boxes with additional questions and/or answers. Users follow the branch of the tree that matches their network configuration and the last box of a branch directs them to a specific component within our application. The Visio drawings work well for the smaller trees, and it is tolerable for a more complex tree (six levels deep with 12 end points). The one tree that I don't have in Visio is a monster tree. It is 14 levels deep with 31 end points. That monster tree only appears in our online help, so at least I don't have to worry about PDF output for that one. The monster tree isn't as visually nice since there are no boxes or arrows. It is made of nested expandable/collapsible sections. Certainly not pretty, but it does achieve the goal of helping the user determine what to use for a specific network configuration.

My hiccup at this point is our first localization project. The Visio created trees will have to be translated separately from the rest of the content, and of course we are charged extra for that. We're debating about getting the translated text and having me update the Visio drawings, but I'm leery of that since I can't read Chinese and won't know if I've made a mistake. I could ditch all of the Visio created drawings and move to the nested expandable/collapsible sections, thus making it part of the content the vendor is already translating, but I don't like the idea of going ugly just to avoid work or cost. How are you handling external graphics for localization? Do you just suck it up and pay for the extra costs? Do you modify your graphics somehow to account for localization? Does anyone have any creative ideas for presenting decision trees or anything similar that would be better suited for localization?
Thanks and Happy New Year!

Kathleen Johnson | Advisory Technical Writer | Vision Solutions | +1 (317) 813-1116 | Kathleen -dot- Johnson -at- visionsolutions -dot- com

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