Advice on translations

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Advice on translations

Post by mdslup » Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:42 am

I author all my content in English. For my translations, I use a translation agency that can handle DITA files. The process is pretty simple - I send them the ditamap and dita files, and they send me new files with all the content translated. Then I open the new ditamap and run my transformations.

My company is global and we have bilingual (English and local language) speakers in many countries. For this reason, our managers are considering dropping the translation agency and using our internal employees to do translations.

If this happens, I want to minimize the amount of manual (ie, non-automated) work that I have to do. I do not trust the reviewers to work on a structured file format such as DITA XML. I also do not want to teach the reviewers how to use Oxygen. So at this time, my only idea is to do this:

1. Copy each string from every step, substep, note, etc into a spreadsheet.
2. Send the spreadsheet to a translator.
3. Copy my current English DITA files into a new folder.
4. Paste all the translated strings into the copied files, resulting in new-language DITA files.

This process sounds awful! Is there a better way? I imagine that I could use XQuery to automate step 1 in the above workflow. But can I automate step 4? IE, is there any way to automatically import all the strings back to where they came from? I can't think of any way to do that.

I am wondering if Oxygen WebAuthor would solve this problem. I could create a new set of DITA files with the English content, then the reviewer could translate the content directly into the WebAuthor. This would (hopefully) eliminate the possibility of a reviewer making an error in the XML structure.

Does anyone have any other suggestions on this problem? A friend of mine mentioned XLIFF, has anyone used that successfully?

Any thoughts on solving this problem would be helpful.

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Re: Advice on translations

Post by cristi_talau » Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:48 pm


I think that the spreadsheet approach does not work well if you have phrase-level DITA elements such as "codeph" or "term" in a step or note. You want the translators to preserve those elements as well but you do not want to split text in chunks at phrase-level element boundaries.

You can let people use Web Author to translate DITA content and possibly create an additional Schematron validation which makes high-level checks like: the structure of the block-level elements is preserved, phrase-level elements are the same (possibly re-ordered depending on the language), etc.

You can also use a tool to generate XLIFF out of your DITA content and let translators use Web Author to edit XLIFF files. We have an XLIFF framework for Web Author available on GitHub: .

My colleague Radu wrote a blog post about translating a DITA project that you may also find useful: ... oject.html .


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Re: Advice on translations

Post by mdslup » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:35 am

Thanks very much.

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Re: Advice on translations

Post by ckabstein » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:19 pm


I just saw your forum entry. I am surprised that your managers might want to drop the translation agency.
It might be, of course, a solution to have internal reviewers translate your topics, but please, if I may say this, use a translation memory system.
This is not the forum to make any suggestions which software might serve you best, but to facilitate the whole translation process, I would definitely recommend investing time and money into this and not trying to solve this using oXygen.
Most translation tools have import filters that blend out the dita elements, so the translators only see the text segments that need to be translated.
If you have any inline elements, such as <uicontrol>, these will be part of the segments, but a translation tool will allow you to copy those so that the original structure will be kept. This shouldn't be hard to explain to reviewers.

oXygen XML Editor 21.1 build 2019120214
DITA OT 3.3.1

Posts: 141
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Re: Advice on translations

Post by mdslup » Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:59 pm

That's helpful, thanks Christina.

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