In this Issue:

The Rockley Report Current Issue Home Page

Tools and technology

Localization tools

Ann Rockley
The Rockley Group Inc.

Localized content can be managed in many different ways with content management systems and global content management systems. This article reviews the technology options.

CMS technology options

Traditionally content management systems manage the creation, reuse, storage, approval, and publishing of content. A CMS is primarily concerned with the management of source content, including versioning, content creation, approval cycles, collaboration and publishing.

CMS alone

You can choose to use your content management system simply to store source and hand-off your content to a language service provider who will manage the translation memory and the translated content. Using your CMS for only source content keeps the source language workflow separate from the languages workflow.

CMS plus storage of localized content

If your CMS is Unicode enabled you can choose to store the localized content in your CMS in addition to the source content. In this situation you hand-off the source content to the language service provider for translation then the language service provider hands the localized content back to your CMS for storage. Storing your localized content enables you to control publishing and configure localized content as desired.

CMS plus localization workflow

Some content management systems enable you to manage the localization workflow from your CMS. This means that you can control the distribution of content to translators and reviewers.

CMS plus translation memory

A few CM systems are now linked to or integrated with translation memory tools (e.g., Trados). This functionality in addition to the localization workflow enables you to manage the entire localization life cycle.

Global Content Management System (GCMS)

Global Content Management Systems help streamline the process of transforming content from one language to another. Most GCM systems have three basic components: a localization management application, a translation application, and a global content manager.

The GCMS manages the translation and localization cycles, and synchronizes them with source content management. It unifies global content management through integration with localization tools and centralized translation databases, reusable glossaries and brand standards, and tracks and manages localization processes. It also keeps source content in sync with translated content, and often provides vendor management and cost estimate functionality.

Some GCMS contain some of the functionality of a CMS, but most are designed specifically to support the complexity of content globalization and localization processes. They do not typically supply adequate support for content management. Many GCMS vendors choose to partner with CMS vendors rather than to market themselves as stand-alone platforms.


Managing content localization presents many problems that are both costly and time consuming.

Even if source content is created and managed using a CMS, the challenges involved in managing the translation and localization of approved content can be significant. Unless specifically designed to do so, CMS systems are not designed to handle the complexities of a localization workflow. And you need to ensure that you have skilled resources to handle all aspects of the localization workflow (e.g., translation memory, translators, in country reviewers, and final approval).

In addition, the complex selection of proprietary tools and data formats, platform considerations, fonts and incompatibilities of non-English enabled versions of products create enormous headaches for localization groups. Often, proprietary content creation tools such as are incompatible with themselves in different languages. This can result in extensive staffing costs to reformat the content both before and after localization, or additional expense to ensure that translators have the same tools, platforms and publishing environments as the source content creators. It can also result in time-consuming reformatting of content after translation or localization.

The source content may also be incompatible with the proprietary format of most translation tools and databases. If an organization uses more than one localization vendor, the proprietary nature of their individual translation databases may prevent them from being linked together.

The use of translation memory tools does help to speed up the translation process and save money by eliminating redundant translations. However, translation memory tools function by matching source content with previously translated content. Proprietary coding (e.g., formatting tags) makes matching an inexact process unless the tags are stripped/filtered out.

Enter XML

The use of XML simplifies all phases of the localization lifecycle. At the authoring stage, using authoring tools and a content management system that support XML means that you are creating content in a non-proprietary format, which has implications for the stages downstream.

At the localization stage, translators only need to concern themselves with translation. They can use their tool of choice to translate the contact, as long as it renders the content back into XML when they are finished. Because content and format are separated in an XML environment; other globalization concerns, such as language-oriented formatting, are addressed at the final publishing stage through the application of XSL style sheets. This results in significant savings in both reformatting time and effort, and eliminates costs associated with purchasing multiple formats of proprietary tools.

Extraction, the process of extracting content from proprietary coding prior to import into the translation tool, is no longer necessary. This is because XML tags are simple enough to be used by most translation tools in their native format. Eliminating this step results in less data corruption, and requires less human intervention to correct errors.

Translation memory tools that leverage previously translated content by comparing existing translated content to new or updated source content use a process called "matching" to determine if they are comparing the right content elements. The semantic nature of XML tagging helps to more clearly identify content, so that matching is almost exact, again eliminating costly checking and revising of errors.

At the publishing stage, the appropriate formatting is applied to content based on target language, country, and other local-specific requirements. A single content source can be automatically published to any number of output formats.

More than just tools

As with any solution, tools are only part of the solution. The key to success lies in accurately capturing your business needs before you commit to any tools. As Ted Nguyen, Sean Flynn, and Coneti Girimohan put it in an article entitled "Global content management systems, Multilingual Content Management, #45 Supplement ( "a true global CM system starts with an internationalized CM infrastructure" that reaches far beyond merely integrating a number of existing disparate tools. A global unified content strategy can help get you there, and save you time and money in the process.

Copyright 2005, The Rockley Group, Inc.