Focus On: Translation

October 16, 2023
image shows clip from translation video

Be prepared to learn all about translation within Paligo through our continuing series of interviews about Component Content Management Systems (CCMS). Join us as Roger Gelwicks takes us on a close examination of how translation can be used to maximize the usefulness of the Paligo CCMS platform, from its useful applications to its remarkable outcomes.

Exploring the power of translation

What are some common uses of the translation feature for companies working in a CCMS?

Roger Gelwicks: The obvious answer is that if you want your content in multiple languages, it has to be translated. And if you’re already using a CCMS to manage your content, then managing the translations of that content is a natural next step. You might have translations for different markets. You might have your content in multiple languages for different audiences that might use your product. And it’s important to have your content localized, especially if you have content where a specific language could make a really big difference in understanding for the user.

So, the ability to translate with a CCMS really just takes things to the next level. I’ll often encounter prospects where translation ends up being a really time-consuming and expensive process because of all of the steps needed to get content out of their current tool and into some other tool for translation. Then they need to get the content that’s translated out of that tool and back to the tool the technical writers are using. So being able to manage translations inside a CCMS really speeds up the process and you get ‌your content to market faster.

How exactly does the translation feature in Paligo work?

Roger: Every topic has a translation associated with it. You have your default language that you’re writing in, but when you’ve enabled languages for each topic or each publication, then the translations for each of those languages are kept alongside the default language. So it’s really easy to write a topic in your native language, get it translated, and have all the language variants kept alongside each other.

When it comes time to publish, as long as there’s an available translation in the desired language for that publication, you simply choose the language right before you publish and it will publish the content in that language.

When we talk about getting your content translated in Paligo, you can do it in three different ways. Number one, you could use one of our integrations, such as Semantix or Phrase. That’s probably the most straightforward way to do translations since you’re using a translation tool integrated with the CCMS.

The second way is to translate the content using Paligo’s built-in tool. There’s even an auto-translate feature that uses Google Translate; you can start with the auto-translated content and then have someone go through and verify it for correctness. This is an especially good method if you have somebody internally who knows the languages.

The third way, which is probably the most common use case that I’ve run into, is that if you’re already working with a translation vendor, you can export a translation file called an XLIFF file and send ‌it to the vendor. They can then load that file into their translation memory software and manage the translation there. And this is where having the CCMS is so helpful, because all the content is already broken down into elements. We can take advantage of that structure to speed up the process of translation. For example, let’s say you have your content in one language and you need to translate it into another. You can export the XLIFF file for the entire publication, send that to your translation vendor, and when they load that XLIFF file into their software, they can enter the translation into the tool by using the structure.

So if a specific paragraph needs translation, then that paragraph will have the translation associated with that exact ID. When they’re done, they can export their version of the XLIFF file back to you so you can import it, which will then automatically align all of the translations element by element. This is really helpful for the future if and when your content changes – for example, if a few words change in one paragraph or you need to add another paragraph. More often, the translation changes that will be needed are not going to be substantial since you only changed a few words or added a new paragraph. So you can export that XLIFF file, send that to the translators, and the XLIFF file will already have the translations filled in from before. That way, there’s no need for the translators to translate everything from scratch all over again. They can just focus on the areas that have changed, which really speeds things up and makes the process much less expensive.

I’ve run into prospects before where the translation process is a huge investment because of how much rework they have to do. If you’re using an XLIFF file generated from Paligo, it really limits the scope of what the translation vendor needs to do.

Saving time and scaling up

If there are several people on a team, can they work on translating different components of the document at the same time?

Roger: Yes. You can export XLIFF files for an entire publication, but you can also do the same process topic by topic as well. In fact, if you have an internal team that translates in the tool, that’s very straightforward because you could go topic by topic to do it that way.

This is a good time to mention that there are two release statuses related to translating: “in translation” and “in translation review.” When content is moved into either status, that actually locks the content from being authored in the default language. If something is being translated or examined, you don’t want the source language to be modified because that would obviously change the accuracy of that translation. So having that release status for the publication or the topics makes sure that everybody knows something is being translated or the translation is being reviewed and should not be edited.

If an author finishes a topic in the default language and it moves into translation, then the author could move on to something else. So you can keep content moving using that method.

Is there a limit to how many languages you can add?

Roger: You can always add a new language at any time. It depends on your license type, but you can always add another language option. In the settings for Paligo, you can enable a language option on a global level. For example, if your content is already offered in French, but now you’re going to start offering it in German, you can simply activate German for your Paligo instance. And just because you enable a language in your instance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every topic has to use that language. You can decide which topics and publications need to have translations available for which language.

In this example, you might have some content that will need to be in French, but will never need to be in German. So you don’t need to activate German for those topics. Or you might have situations where you need everything to be translated into every language possible. Then you just enable the languages that way. In fact, XLIFF files can combine languages. So if your translation vendor manages translations for more than one language, you can have both translations done at the same time. In that example, you can have French and German translated at the same time, with the same vendor, in the same file. So it’s very easy to add languages later.

That’s one of the things I always talk about with prospects – if you don’t translate your content today but want to in the future, you’re already ready to start that process. There’s not a lot of extra work that you have to do to start the translation process.

Anything else we should know about translation in Paligo?

Roger: I think it’s worth reiterating that you can realize a great return on investment with Paligo with the translation functionality. Depending on how time-consuming and expensive your current translation process is in your current tool, you might be able to speed up that process considerably. If translation is a huge headache for you, Paligo can definitely help out by using this structured process.