When considering how to improve localization process, the translated content always seems the logical place to start. However, rarely is this the best method for lowering the costs of localization and/or reducing time-to-market for multilingual product launches.
Conversely, it is the source content creation process that must improve in order to arrive at the best models for localization efficiency. As content authors begin to shed more "traditional" methods of authoring source content, they see not only the benefits that structure brings to their organization, but also find great reductions in the costs typically associated with localization.
"Traditional" methods led to additional cost
Over the past few years improvement models for authoring source content have become more prominent, slowly replacing once widely accepted modes of authoring. It was these traditionally established ways of authoring technical documentation, help content and marketing communication materials that led to the addition of non-translation costs built into localization services. Traditional methods of authoring also helped contribute to slower release cycles for products going into foreign markets.
The root of the problem lay in the disparate methods by which content is authored within separate divisions of an organization. Once passed onto an organization's language service provider (LSP) the internal profusion of file formats across the various divisions would multiply exponentially by the number of languages requested.
In addition, an organization's preferred tools for authoring often lacked support for the full range of languages required, thus forcing LSPs to find workarounds and "hacks" for the shortcomings of popular authoring software. This led to more work for localization suppliers, more cost to the end-client and, ultimately a slower time-to-market.
Now with the widespread adoption of XML in combination with Unicode into popular software toolsets and content management solutions, we are finding that brochures, technical documents and graphics for translation can all be stored and even delivered to language service providers via this universal open-source format.
This has led to the potential for monumental change in content creation methodologies and will have a profound impact on the future of language service offerings as more and more content utilizes XML as a vehicle of distribution rather than proprietary binary formats such as .doc, .fm, .qxd, and so on.
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