MadCap FlareTM projects contain a collection of files used to create online help and PDF documentation for software applications. Beside the innocent-looking HTML project files, there is plenty hidden in the other project files: HTML and XML tags, cross-reference links, variables, and snippets. Confusing? Well, there is more. In software-related documentation, we also find specific terms, such as programming code, output samples, configuration settings, and references to the user interface text. It takes a skilled team to handle all these things without getting lost.
All these special terms must be translated accurately, and the final result has to make sense to the intended audience, i.e. the software users. There’s no room for misinterpretation or imprecision! Imagine replacing the wrong part in an expensive car because the original German manual was mistranslated. You wouldn’t enjoy using a computer program if the names of buttons and menus were all mixed-up. We all know how bad careless translations can be!
The biggest challenge in a recent Flare project was handling variables. What are variables, you ask? Variables in Flare projects are placeholders for specific text. For the most part, they are product names, software functions, version numbers, websites, URLs, etc. The idea is to use variables to make it easier for substituting an important item everywhere in the project files with a single change from a single location: a variable list.
One caveat is that variables have Flare-specific tags that some translation tools miss. And these tags contain only variable names, not the actual text. The translator needs to know both the variable names and the actual text content of all variables to understand the sentences where they appear. This leads to another challenge: Where are the variables? The variable list is one among hundreds of project files. It is a needle in a haystack if you don’t know where to look.
Variables don’t necessarily require translation for the most part, but they do still require some work. Since sentence structures vary between the different languages, it’s crucial that they are put in the right place by the translator. The first time we dealt with them, our translation tools didn’t “see” them, so the translator had missing words and cut sentences. Fortunately, we now use MadCap LingoTM to easily locate the variable list and ensure the translator doesn’t miss anything.
Even when text stored in variables appear in the translated text. They still require attention. For example, we recently had a French translation, and we had to make some adjustments in the final French text: fixing the gender of adjectives, moving adjectives around variables, using correct articles, etc.
For instance, we had a variable that was a company acronym in English (“C…”), a situation when there is usually no accompanying article. This became (“A…”) in French, where an accompanying article is the norm. Without knowing the first letter of the acronym was “A”, the translator wouldn’t know to use the right article in “l’A…”. And that acronym appeared hundreds of times across all files. Manually changing hundreds of articles in the revision phase, even with the help of a Translation Memory, is quite time-consuming!
When we receive a Flare project, we need to identify all the information under the hood and work with our clients to ensure the translation will be accurate and nothing will be missed before we even start. Contact us to learn how we can help you translate your Flare projects.