Welcome to the latest in the series of “Localization: The Definitive Guide”, a complete step by step guide to the localization of websites, software and it’s components. In this article we will deal with the translation of documentation associated with software. We have already dealt with the localization of software and Online Help. Again, the localization of software documentation ties in with the localization of the software or User Interface and the Online Help. The documentation of software may include User Guides, Quick User Guides, CD-ROM covers and Box text and any other marketing material. Just to refresh a SIM ship release is where the language versions of the product are released to their respective markets on the same date as the original version. As one can imagine cross referencing with other localization components is crucial ensuring that all components are consistent with each other. It’s also important to bear in mind how astronomical the cost of localization can become now, bearing in mind the amount of languages we need to deliver and the volume of words we have to translate. In many cases, companies often combat these astronomical localization costs by tying the Online Help in with the User Guides and Quick start Guides by having just one guide for all three and in some cases not even printing the User Guides. As already discussed we translate the user interface first, populate the translation memory and Glossary with the translated text and then run it against the Online Help and User manuals. However with a SIM ship version and the time constraint we need to translate the OLH and User manuals in parallel with the User Interface. The process for the translation of the documentation is very similar to the translation of a website, OLH or the User interface itself so, as mentioned previously in the OLH localization article please bear in mind that there will be some overlap between this article and the others in this series. We have already discussed the use of translation memories, resources and infrastructure and their respective influences on the localization work flow but in this article we will focus more on the formats of User Guides and an extra resource called Desktop publishing. In most cases the overlap between the Online Help and the User Guides is substantial if not the same however, the extra dimension of publishing introduced into the localization work flow causes costly and substantial changes.
1. Pseudo Localization of ManualsAs opposed to the UI and OLH the User manuals are not pseudo translated.
2. Pilot Language for Online Help LocalizationWe immediately begin the documentation localization process based on the language/s already chosen for the OLH and user interface. This language will define the localization process and weed out the majority of the localization bugs.
3. Translation Memory and Glossary input during Online Help localization.The documentation localization process is similar to the Online Help and UI translation process in that the translatable text is isolated, translated and dumped back into the original format, however, there is an extra degree of complexity if there are translation Memories involved in the process and an even greater degree of complexity if the translation memory is not centralized. Please refer to translation memory input during OLH localization for more information. Also, all the engineering localization tasks for the OLH and UI involved localization engineers. For these tasks during the localization of the documentation we call on a different resource called a desk top publisher. The desk top publisher tasks include preparing the original files for translation within a compatible format for the TM environment, bug fixing and formatting, rebuilding/compiling the translated manuals, functional testing and updating the translation memories with functional and linguistic fixes. In the previous article on the localization of Online Help we took into account two types of translation memory models, Centralized and non-centralized translation memory work flows. It is here that the localization process of the manuals can vary greatly depending on the translation memory, the infrastructure and resources chosen by the translation services company.
The main formats of User Guide files are quark and frameMaker and a lot of translation memory environments can work directly with these formats.
4. Translation and Revision of Documentation
Ok, so we send the translator the translation memory compatible files to translate or access to the centralized translation memory system portal , the most up to date Translation Memory (as they need to update it with their work) reference material such as Glossaries, previous User Guides…etc.. and the translator begins translation. As discussed in the previous paragraph one must bear in mind that the process can vary in many ways when we take into consideration that the translator may be in-house or external or the translation memory system we are using. What is key is that each resource always has a reasonably up to date TM to work with to avoid duplication of work. During this stage the translator’s job remit may overlap with the publishers in that he/she may be responsible for typical localization bugs such as resizing of strings as he translates or it may be the publisher’s job after translation. The end product is an 80 to 90% localized pilot version. What adds even more to the complications of the project is whether the documentation is revised by the translation company, the client or a third party. What if the client wants to revise the User Guides? What if the client does not wish to use the translation memory process
5. Translated User GuidesDuring the next stage the pilot version is rebuilt for testing.
6. Localization QA - Testing of localized DocumentationLocalization testing of Documentation is the same as for the software in that once recompiled the pilot version is tested for functional bugs by the Localization QA team and linguistically tested, with the UI in context, by the translators or in some cases by third party linguists. The bugs are usually documented via post-its on the pdf and sent to desktop Publishing in the case of functional and formatting bugs , or translation, in the case of linguistic bugs, to be fixed. This cycle continues until the translated software is bug free. The set-up of the phase can differ from company to company depending on the circumstances but in all cases it’s important to update the TMs with the linguistic fixes. There is an extra degree of complexity during this phase compared to the software localization QA in that the cross referencing and linking to the software is fully functional
Translation of other Language Versions of ManualsNow that we have our pilot version localized and bug free, the process is in place to translate the other language versions of the User Guides. I mentioned at the start of this article that in an ideal world the localized versions should be released on the same date as the master version however it’s usually impossible to achieve this and what usually happens is that certain languages are given priority depending on their market importance. The more important languages are called tier one languages and the less important languages for secondary markets are generally referred to as Tier 2 languages.
To summarize, I think this article gives us an idea of how close the software localization process, the Online Help localization process and the documentation process are intertwined in that every UI reference must be exactly the same in the Online Help and the user Guides and marketing materials. This article is part of a series, "Localization: The definitive Guide" from One Stop Shop Translations, which deals with the localization of each component of software, the others include:
- Software Localization: Background and Methodology
- Online Help Localization: Background and Methodology
- End User License Agreements Localization: Background and Methodology
- Software Documentation Localization(Quick User Guides and User Guides): Background and Methodology
- Website Localization: Background and Methodology
NOTE: Please note that translation and localization are used interchangeably in this article.
NOTE: Please note that documentation and User Guides are used interchangeably in this article.
DEF: Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text.
DEF: Language localization is the process of adapting a product that has been previously translated into different languages to a specific country or region. Source: Wikipedia
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Mark Kieran, CEO, One Stop Shop Translations