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XML in Localisation: What can it really do for us?

Posted by Nick Peris on April 8, 2009

Have you ever wondered how xml could possibly be relevant to our needs? Localising xml files is pretty much straight forward. But what of using XML to localise? From English XML to Localised RTF, HTML, PDF ... and XML

As localisation professionals we’ve all known about XML for quite some time now. We understand that as a Markup Language, it is closely related to HTML. We also know that it is Extensible, meaning that the tags and structure are user-specific. This gives us the picture of a very powerful and flexible language.

But I’m sure we also all have come across an xml-based document (a “.xml file”), which we have launched in our favorite browser, only to be treated to a pretty unattractive page of…XML code!

So what can that powerful and yet somewhat undefinable animal really do for us?

This article shows a practical example of xml technology applied to a specific localisation process. In doing so, it also illustrates some of the advantages of having a dedicated Localisation Team or Department, rather than allowing various departments in an organisation to manage their own localisation. In this case, a simple handover of responsibilities from a Marketing team to a Localisation team generated a major leap forward in process, efficiency and quality control. Here is how:

Original setup

In this organisation, the process for creating and localising marketing and web content was the following:

  • 1 master document – the product sheet – was created for each new product released.
  • The product sheet was localised into 13 languages.
  • Relevant  sections were pasted individually into the website for each language.
  • Relevant sections were also pasted individually into a printable version which was converted to PDF again for each language.
  • The localised doc files were also circulated.

There were 2 major issues with this:

  1. Copying and pasting made the process extremely time consuming and error prone.
  2. No translation memory system was used, making leveraging impossible and quality control of the localised content solely reliant on proof readers.

Solution implemented

The Localisation team was handed over the responsibility of localising this content mainly to free-up Marketing resources. Rather than simply taking over, they identified opportunities for improvement and initiated an R&D effort in xml Single Source Publishing. The goal now was to automate as much of the process as possible, and free-up time within the agreed standard turnaround for systematic quality control.

The new process ended up as follows:

  • Product sheet created in xml by the authors, using the free WYSIWYG XML authoring tool Altova Authentic®.
  • The xml schema was designed to be compatible with the web content management system used to create localised product pages.
  • A Trados ini file was created to parse out all non-localisable content in the xml code.
  • XSL Transformation and Apache FOP were used to automatically generate all localised XML, HTML, RTF and PDF copies after post-translation processing in Trados.
  • A VB Developer created a tool to manage all Altova StyleVision®-based automation from one single UI.

Result

  • Upload of complete xml product sheets to the website for each language rather than copying and pasting independent fields (unfortunately batch upload was not permitted by the web content management system).
  • Internet team saved 75% on the time required for localised product webpages to go live.
  • Other content types were all published simultaneously.
  • Use of Translation Memories and pro-active Terminology Management cut cost and increased consistency.
  • Thorough Quality Checks were also processed in batch using QA Distiller™ which helped catch multiple terminology and value errors before publication.

The key to the success of this new setup, apart from choosing to use XML, was the ability to revise the process from beginning to end. Because the Localisation team were allowed to have a say in the authoring process, efficiencies were generated on the whole span of the Marketing and Web content creation and XML Single Source Publishing was successfully implemented.

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