Using stylesheets to enhance the translators experience when working with XML files can be very helpful and sometimes essential. It allows you to pull details from the XML and display them in a preview pane so that the translator has more context around the translatable text. It can also provide a mechanism for displaying text that you don’t want extracted from the XML for translation at all. This is nothing new of course and localisation engineers and experienced translators have been doing this for years. In fact I’ve even written about this in the past providing a simple example of how it’s done and some reading resources for anyone who would like to learn how. So why am I bringing this up again?
If you’ve never come across Microsoft Publisher before then here’s a neat explanation from wikipedia.
“Microsoft Publisher is an entry-level desktop publishing application from Microsoft, differing from Microsoft Word in that the emphasis is placed on page layout and design rather than text composition and proofing.”
It’s actually quite a neat application for newbies to desktop publishing like me, but it’s a difficult tool to handle if you receive *.pub files (the format used by MS Publisher) and are asked to translate them. And I do see requests from translators from time to time asking how they can handle them. The file itself is a binary format and even with Office 2016 (which includes Publisher if you have the Professional version) the only export formats of PDF, XPS and HTML are not importable. So very tricky indeed if you need to be able to provide your client with a translated version of the pub format.
“Gabriela descended from the train, cautiously looking around for signs that she may have been followed. Earlier in the week she’d left arrangements to meet László at the Hannover end of Platform 7, and after three hours travelling in a crowded train to get there was in no mood to find he hadn’t got her message. She walked up the platform and as she got closer could recognise his silhouette even though he was facing the opposite direction. It looked safe, so she continued to make her way towards him, close enough to slip a document into the open bag by his side. She whispered ‘Read this and I may have to shoot you!’ László left without even a glance in her direction, only a quick look down to make sure there was no BOM.”
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
I’m quoting Alexander Pope in 1709, rightly or wrongly, for hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the truly intoxicating mix of language and technology. A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing and it’s something I know I’ve been guilty of all my life… I learn a little something new and now I’m an expert. That is of course until I learn a bit more, and then a little more after that, and before I know it I realise I know nothing at all! Translation technology is great for dropping us all into this trap… Trados user since Trados 5, translator for over 20-years… can handle any type of file. Falling into this trap is pretty easy in fact, especially when the tools available for translation today take a lot of the effort out of the tasks at hand. But not everything is what it seems and sometimes it takes a mistake or three to sober us up again! There’s a reason why well organised and successful translation companies, dealing in all kinds of content, have Project Managers, Translators and Localization Engineers within their midst.
I ran a beginners and an advanced workshop at the ATA56 pre-conference day in Miami this year. A really fun day for me as we start the day with no specific agenda or pre-defined course and then try to shape the session to suit the needs of the attendees. The beginner tends to be a little more prescribed, to start off with at least, and the intention is to try and cover the basics of how Studio and MultiTerm work.
The advanced is a lot different… after all, what is advanced?
My favourite conference by far is the ATA… and not just because the location changes every year and it’s always somewhere fantastic! This year was in Miami and the location was no exception… a great choice and huge numbers of translators interested in translation technology and how they can get more from it. My own involvement at these conferences is always very satisfying because I get to spend the full conference speaking to people, from the moment the doors open until they close, about technology. This year kept me particularly busy with two pre-conference sessions, mostly on Studio and MultiTerm; the “Toolbar” which is open all conference and is an area manned by technical representatives from all the tools vendors present; and a conference presentation I’ve wanted to deliver for a long time. This article is about that presentation, “XML, XPath, XSLT… the ‘X’ Files?”
I love this cartoon with the husband and wife fishing on a calm weekend off.
“Honey, I got a big one on!”
She’s hooked a whopper and he casually responds in the way he always does when she occasionally catches a fish on Sunday morning.
“Yes dear, uh huh…”
The equipment they’ve got, from the boat to the fishing rods, is all perfectly suitable for their usual weekend activities but hopelessly inadequate for handling something like this! Little do they know that the whopper under the surface is going to give them a little more trouble when they try to bring him on board!
My son asked me how my day had gone and before I could answer he said in a slightly mocking tone “blah blah blah… XML… blah… XML … blah blah”. Clearly I spend too much time outside of work talking about work, and clearly his perception of what I do is tainted towards the more technical aspects I like the most! Aside from the note to self “stop talking about this stuff after I leave the office!” it got me thinking about why I probably think about XML as much as I apparently do and how I could help others avoid the very same compulsion! I’ve written articles in the past about how to use regular expressions in Studio, and an article on using XPath, and I’ve probably touched on handling XML files from time to time in various articles. But I don’t think I’ve ever explained how to create an XML filetype in the first place, or why you would want to… after all Studio has default filetypes for XML and this is just another filetype that the CAT tool should be able to handle… right?
This week I spent some time in Stockholm attending one of the SDL Roadshows. As usual it was a great event, and we have more to come. In fact this year I get to attend a fair few so if you’re attending Copenhagen, Milan or Paris in May then I’ll look forward to seeing you there!
But I’m not writing about the roadshows. I also enjoyed a day before the roadshow with some of our very technical customers in a small workshop and as usual they had lots of interesting questions to tax our software and my brain! But this time I had reinforcements in the shape of Iulia who is a QA Engineer from our Cluj office. The team in Cluj never cease to amaze me with their dedication to making the products better and in supporting our customers, in addition to their knowledge of our products. But the reason I want to mention Iulia in particular is because these technical sessions always involve questions around how we handle XML in Studio. This time was no exception and one question in particular had me dreaming up all kinds of workarounds… they were interesting I think, but unnecessary because Studio has some clever features here I’d never looked at before, but Iulia had. Of course I don’t know why I’d expect anything less from a team that QA our products, but I thought it would be good to share.