DITA useful for translation?

Subject: DITA useful for translation?
From: Chris Gooch <chris -dot- gooch -at- rocketmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 10:27:09 +0100 (BST)


I'm currently working for a start up software company to produce some docs (they don't have a great deal at the moment). I was intending to use either Help&Manual or Flare, and after looking at both I was about to recommend that HM would probably be fine for them as they don't need anything too complicated right now.

However the project manager, who has just started, and who previously worked at some very large software companies, asked about DITA (which Flare claims to support, HM doesn't directly - found a discussion on their support forum where they said their own XML format is based on DITA but with additions so they don't see a need to support it directly).

My project manager has heard that DITA can help with translation (we will probably need to get the docs translated at least into Japanese at some point). I'm not entirely sure why this might be - surely translation memory tools capable of working with XML DITA can also work fine with any other suitable/similar XML schema? The translator isn't interested in the XML tags, just the content within...

Am I missing something? Anyone with DITA experience care to comment?

We need to decide whether to go with HM or Flare (or something else for that matter) quite quickly. Whilst I'm not against using standards etc. if they will help, we need to get on, and so I want to find out if this DITA issue is a red herring or not. And, I guess, if it isn't, what sort of overhead is it going to impose?

Christopher Gooch
Sheffield, UK.


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