Help and localization: moving beyond V1?

Subject: Help and localization: moving beyond V1?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 08:42:28 -0400

Pam Mandel <<... is responsible for Version 1 docs for a Version 1 product.
We are probably not going to localize right away, but should we successfully
launch our product and avoid the Grim Technology Startup Reaper, we are very
to be faced with localization for V2. We'd like this to be as painless as

A few thoughts. First off, once you've got V1 docs ready and are starting to
plan V2, start contacting localization vendors right now. Send the most
promising candidates a copy of what you've already done, and ask them to
provide references, preliminary "just so we have an idea of the overall
magnitude" cost estimates, plus an indication of what you're doing wrong
(from their perspective) so you can fix it before you send them the job.
This last question has both a good and a bad side: the good side is that
once you pick a vendor, you'll know how to prepare the files for them; the
bad side is that you're asking for free localization advice and thus,
probably won't get it. To be fair to the vendors, do some reading first.
Nancy Hoft's book (don't have it handy, but it's been mentioned several
times on techwr-l and thus should appear in the archives) would be a great

One thing you do desperately need, and need soon (since you're a startup): a
development process that is relatively painless (so it doesn't throttle your
creativity) but that freezes the interface early enough that you can freeze
the documentation. It's bad enough trying to document a moving target in a
single language; imagine how chaotic things will get ($$$) if you have
additional languages that have to simultaneously and repeatedly be updated
to match the English! (I've done this several times for relatively small
reports, and it's painful and error-prone and time-consuming. You don't want
to go there.)

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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