Managing DITA translation – technology considerations
Managing DITA translation – technology considerations illustration

DITA is an XML data model for authoring and publishing, where large volumes of content are broken down into many smaller reusable elements called topics. Managing content at the topic level enables enterprises to publish multiple outputs from a single source.
The systematic reuse of content via DITA means that source content creation is significantly faster and more efficient. Also reusing source topics increases the consistency of the source which normally results in a dramatic reduction in the cost of translation.
One possible drawback of DITA is that it usually involves 1000s of small topics, which can complicate the translation process. It is therefore essential to have an automated extraction or ‘push’ capability from your Component Content Management System (CCMS) directly to your Translation Management System (TMS). This will reduce the amount of manual file handling and eliminate human errors. The connection of your CCMS and your TMS enables a consistent, cost-effective global multilingual strategy for your enterprise wide content management.

Managing DITA translation

A TMS will enable you to maximise the benefits of reuse by matching individual segments or sentences that have already been translated. Your TMS will also allow you to decide the best way to translate your content. You can deal directly with individual freelance translators, Language Service Providers or even involve in-country resources. In summary, the TMS can provide essential topic management, content filtering, content reuse reports and potential costings for external resources.
Once the DITA files are in the TMS they will follow a number of logical steps which include:

  • Automated extraction or parsing of the relevant content for translation; this requires that the content extraction engine of the TMS has a deep level understanding of the intricacies of the DITA structure.
  • Logical structuring of DITA files; the TMS should allow the DITA files to maintain the structure that is predefined in your DITA Map during translation. This enables localization managers, linguists or external suppliers to understand quickly the contextual order and the purpose of the translation project.
  • Assigning the best linguists for the job; for example, the person assigned to translate a technical manual is unlikely to the same person who will translate a marketing website.
  • Automated grouping of DITA projects; the TMS can enable the ‘grouping’ of individual topics in some type of structure that provides an efficient translator friendly topic management logic.
  • DITA style sheet interpretation; the TMS should be able to provide translators with a WYSIWYG view of the target language document by using your predefined XSLT. They can then gather contextual information from what would otherwise be presented to them as out of context individual topics.
  • Efficient topic navigation by the linguist; the translator should be able to progress efficiently through the individual DITA topics.The TMS needs to have custom DITA settings to minimize disruptions that may occur due to the nature of DITA.

XTM International has been working with DITA since 2003 and XTM is the leading innovative enterprise level Translation Management System. The system was established as an XML translation management system to capitalize on the file handling efficiencies offered by the XML structure. Therefore its application to handle the structured XML of DITA was a logical early step for the XTM International team.
In the words of our CTO Andrzej Zydron ‘Nobody in the translation world understands DITA as well as XTM International’.
XTM Currently has automated connections to the following DITA CMS Systems
DITAworks (Instinct Tools)
easyDITA (easyDITA)
DITA CMS (Ixiasoft)
Live Content (SDL)
Other automated connectors can be easily built on request