Showing posts with label online help translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online help translation. Show all posts

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Online Help Localization: Background and Methodology

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 Online Help for software. Again this component ties in with the localization of the software or the User Interface (UI) and the race to release a SIM ship version of the localized product. 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 the cross referencing between the Online Help and the User Interface is very important. It is important to ensure that both are consistent with each other. In an ideal world we translate the user interface first, populate the translation memory and Glossary with the translated text and then run it against the Online Help. However with a SIM ship version and the time constraint we need to translate the OLH in parallel with the User Interface. The process for the translation of the OLH is very similar to the translation of a website or the User interface itself, in fact some Help systems are web based so please bear in mind that there will be some overlap between this article and the others in this series. For this article we will take the worst case scenario of a SIM ship release where both the software and the Online Help are translated at the same time. One thing in our favor is that the User interface word count is usually substantially lower than the online help word count which gives us time to ensure during revision that the references and links from the Online Help to the software reference correctly.

1. Pseudo Localization of Online Help

As with the software, one of the first steps is to pseudo-translate the online help pilot language/s. Just to refresh our memories, the pilot languages are a small cross section of languages to represent all the target languages to be translated. Please refer to pseudo translation of software here to refresh your memory on its purpose and benefits.

2. Pilot Language for Online Help Localization

Now we begin the Online Help localization process in earnest by starting its localization based on the pilot language/s already chosen for the software. 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 online Help localization process is similar to the pseudo translation process in that the translatable text is isolated, translated and dumped back into the Online Help, 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 software localization for additional information. Lets take a step forward and assume that our Help system has been pseudo translated, bug fixed and prepared for the TM environment. It is here that the localization process of the online Help can vary greatly depending on the translation memory, the infrastructure and the resources chosen by the translation services company. Lets take a couple of scenarios I hope will cover the majority of localization process cases.

Centralized Translation memory Model

A centralized translation Memory is a central repository of previously translated segments and Glossary terminology. The system is interactive and allows the translator to access a “live” translation memory and glossary. It means that all translation resources both internal and external work from the same TM and the translated text is updated on the “fly”. It ensures that all translators are up to date with the most current terminology and translations. Centralized translation memories are often complex and expensive to implement resulting in higher costs but worth it in the long run by cutting time, long term costs and enhancing quality and consistency.
Centralized Translation Memory
Let’s take a quick run through the centralized translation memory process. Let’s assume we have started the user interface and online Help translation in unison. This may result in different translations for User Interface commands and options in both components. In this case the reviewer of the User interface will have final sign-off on all the UI text. If there are any issues he will discuss this with the translator of the User Interface and translator and reviewer of the online Help to reach a general consensus on the best translation and be responsible for updating the central TM. The translator and reviewer of the OLH will receive notifications of TM updates and can update their target texts accordingly on the fly. In a lot of cases if a translator is external they will need access to the centralized translation memory system by means of a portal.

Translation Memory Model (Not centralized)

The second model is more cumbersome and complicates the process as the translation memory is not centralized. It means that the translator cannot update his text while he is working. It complicates the parallel translation in that at the end of the day for instance, both translation memories differ i.e. the UI reviewer TM and the OLH reviewer TM, or may even involve syncing many more TMs for instance, UI reviewer TM, the OLH reviewer TM, UI translator TM and OLH translator TM, depending on the amount of resources working concurrently on the same text. There are workarounds but they involve extra management and process bottlenecks. For instance we could devise a process where at the end of the day a central resource takes the UI translators TM and updates it with his changes. The most up to date TM is then sent to the OLH translator and UI translator at the beginning of each day to begin their work. As one can imagine its not an ideal situation! For a demonstration on a Translation memory environment please refer to the following link.

4. Translation and Revision of the Online Help

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. We also discussed in the localization of software that the translator may be responsible for typical localization bugs such as resizing of dialogues and menus and duplicate hot keys or this may be the role of the localization engineers 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 Online help is revised by the translation company, the client or a third party. What if the client wants to revise the OLH? What if the client does not wish to use the translation memory process instigated by the translation company?

5. Translated Online Help Build

During the next stage the pilot version is rebuilt for testing on various platforms.

6. Localization QA - Testing of localized Online Help

Localization testing of Online Help is the same as for the software in that once rebuilt 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 documented and sent to engineering in the case of functional 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 and corresponds linguistically

7. Translation of other Online Help language versions

Now that we have our pilot version localized and bug free, the process is in place to translate the other Online Help language versions. 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 closely the software localization process and the Online Help localization process are intertwined in that, every UI reference must be exactly the same in the Online Help. 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
- 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.
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

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Remember that translation of software is not just simple straight forward translation but a complicated process that involves many stages and specialized expertise!