Re: Internationalization and multiple source bases

Subject: Re: Internationalization and multiple source bases
From: "Guy K. Haas" <ghaas -at- selectica -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 15:44:08 -0700

Bill Burns wrote [replying to a message from Jeff Williams]:
> Why don't you use conditional text and text insets (that is, Frame files
> that are imported by reference) instead of maintaining mutliple versions? It
> would take some planning, but after you get it set up, maintenance would be
> simpler.
> If you do go with multiple sources, use text insets for all common info. The
> first approach (one source with conditional text settings) seems simpler to
> me. Then you can use separate book files and control sheets for each locale
> base.

I'm handling manuals for four APIs -- or two pair of versions of an API.

One pair is two very slightly different C versions of the API (returning
different data types).

The other pair is COM wrappers of the first pair. The syntax
descriptions are in IDL instead of in C, and the names of data types and
data elements are (systematically) different from those in the first

As with many APIs, some parameters are repeated in several different
function/method signatures, with the very same description.

Still, there is more consistent text than variant text across the four
documents, so any edit made to one paragraph would need to be made to at
least four.

My solution will involve using
- conditional text for the difference between the two versions,
- FrameMaker variables for the name differences between C and COM
varieties, and
- text inserts for repeated paragraphs that occur multiple times within
a doc.

I've done a proof of concept, and it all looks manageable and explicable
(hey, if I'm ever to hand this project off for maintenance, I need to
tell the heir how to handle it).

My concern is with respect to internationalization. Can translators
into European and Asian languages handle such a pile? Instead of giving
a book file,
a set of chapter files,
and a graphics directory
for each book, I'd be giving them
one set of chapters,
four book files,
four template files to import formats, variables and condition
settings from,
a directory of graphics,
and one or more directories of text for insets
for the set of four books.

The books will have revisions once or twice a year, at least.

Can anybody out there comment on how a translation service would handle

--Guy K. Haas
Senior Technical Writer
Selectica, Inc.
E-Mail: ghaas -at- selectica -dot- com

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