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What content can be translated with a translation management system?
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Aleix Gwilliam
AuthorAleix Gwilliam
Reading time 7 minutes

The purpose of a translation management system (TMS) is to help organizations manage the translation of their content for their global audiences more quickly and efficiently. All types of content that an organization wishes to have in another language can be localized and managed in a TMS. Depending on its type, the translation and localization process will require the use of different tools or features within a TMS.

Word files, PDFs, presentations, spreadsheets, and text files.
HTML, XML, or web content that comes from a Content Management System (CMS) that requires localization and adaptation.
Software UI
User interfaces, menus, dialog boxes, and error messages from software applications.
Marketing materials
Brochures, flyers, product descriptions, advertisements, and promotional content.
Technical documentation
User manuals, installation guides, help documentation, and API documentation.
Subtitles for videos, audio transcriptions, voiceover scripts, and closed captions.
Ecommerce platforms
Product descriptions, specifications, reviews, and checkout processes.
Mobile apps
Mobile app strings, notifications, and in-app content.
Legal documents
Contracts, agreements, terms and conditions, and privacy policies.
Training materials
E-learning modules, online courses, training manuals, and quizzes.
Social media
Social media posts, comments, and advertisements on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Dialogues and responses for AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants.
Game interfaces, dialogues, tutorials, and subtitles for gaming platforms.

You can check the most commonly supported file formats in a TMS here.

Does each content type have a different translation process within a TMS?

The translation process within a TMS can vary based on the content type. A TMS facilitates the overall translation workflow, which typically includes tasks like file preparation, translation assignment, collaboration, linguistic review, and quality assurance. 

Certain content types may require additional steps or considerations that do require leveraging certain features or tools within a TMS. For example, when translating marketing materials, the length of words can vary between languages and therefore localized text may exceed the limits of the design. For these cases, the TMS may have an in-context viewer tool, which allows linguists to see what their translation looks like in the original user interface or design and ensure it fits in properly. However, if you localize content in which word length doesn’t matter, such as novels, having this tool in the TMS is not as much of a priority. In any case, seeing what it looks like localized, in any format, will enhance the translation experience and normally ensure higher quality output.

The future of content translation

Translation of content is moving away from file-based approaches towards repository-based models. With the rise of version control systems and collaborative platforms, teams can now manage and update content in a dynamic and centralized manner. Instead of sending files for translation, these are stored in repositories, allowing for real-time collaboration and version control. For this reason, it has become a necessity for TMSs to smoothly integrate with the content creation technology stack which a company has in order to extract, translate and update content directly all within the content technology environment.

So, how does it work? For example, let’s take GitHub, a platform that is used to store content for code or software-development projects. Translating directly from repositories instead of from files is a big time-saver. A localization manager that needs to translate a file in GitHub in 10 different languages would have to send individual emails to all translators, reviewers, etc., and then import the 10 translations manually, which leaves the door open for human error. By operating directly within GitHub via the TMS integration, the localization manager just has to select what needs to be translated, the target languages, and send it off—no emails, no manual import or export. This system is not only faster and has a lower risk of error, but it also provides improved oversight over version control, with greater control over the synchronization between source content updates and corresponding translations.

Expert tip

Iñaki Hernández-Lasa
Iñaki Hernández-Lasa

Before you deploy a TMS, it’s important to let your provider know which types of content you will be working with. This way, they can give you tailored advice on which tools and features you will need. For example, you may need a connector if you use a CMS, or you may require specific AI tools if you want to localize your website’s chat bot replies. A TMS can cater to all content types, making it a global funnel hub. Customizing the TMS to your needs from the get-go is a key step towards successful localization, so create a list of your content repositories, even those which you do not translate now. This way you will be well prepared when you decide to look at TMS systems.”

Iñaki Hernández-Lasa

Xpert at XTM International

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