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DITA Europe 2010: Nice Weather, Technology and Mozart

Guest blog entry by Carl Yao, TermWiki Masta’ and the Vice President of Global Strategy at CSOFT

The DITA Europe 2010 Conference was held in Vienna, the scenic home of Mozart, and I simply can’t imagine a better location to meet up and talk shop. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) Conference is a biannual convention organized by CIDM (the Center for Information-Development Management) that draws content professionals and CMS enthusiasts from around the world to share XML publishing experience, best practices, and showcase cutting-edge CMS technology. As a set of standards for developing content, DITA itself enables companies to develop and publish content with better reuse, consistency, faster document creation and overall reduced translation costs.

When I arrived at Vienna International Airport, there was an incredibly dense layer of fog that only allowed for about 30 meters of visibility on all sides (you’ve got to admire the bravery of those Lufthansa pilots, because weather conditions like that would’ve caused major traffic delays in the US and other parts of the world). The sky quickly cleared up, however, and I was pleasantly surprised to meet a warm November sun that, according to locals, was completely out of the ordinary for this time of year in Austria.

As I made my way into the city, something happened that immediately impressed on me the importance of the conference. I had hailed a cab and told the driver that I wanted to go downtown. He just looked at me with a surprised expression on his face, indicating that he didn’t speak any English. It made me smile, because I’m constantly reminded in small ways that translation and localization services are still very much in demand in today’s multilingual world. Though not necessarily related to XML publishing and content management, this little event made me all the more confident that CSOFT’s globalization business will continue to fly high. Luckily enough, the resourceful cab driver pulled up to a pedestrian couple and asked how to translate “the place where all the tourists go.”

DITA Success Stories

There were quite a few compelling success stories at the conference, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a quick summary of the presentations that dealt specifically with DITA and localization/translation.

At the conference, Keith Schengili-Roberts from AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) talked about four years of DITA implementation and the substantial cost savings they have achieved as a result. Using DITA, AMD has produced more than 2,200 manuals in up to 25 languages. Because of the substantial cost savings and efficiency gains associated with DITA implementation, AMD was able to release user manuals/documentation in 21+ languages simultaneously for each product release at a localization budget that is 2.5 times less than what they spent before DITA. Two-and-a-half times less! As a result of these outstanding savings, AMD is now able to localize much more content than before, and is able to do so more efficiently. Localizing more content, naturally, will enable AMD to occupy a greater share of the global market and improve user experience in their target locales, thus greatly increasing their localization ROI.

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Vikram Nanwani from ITT also talked about a significant return on their investment after implementing DITA standards. In order to comply with the new requirements of the European Union’s Machine Directive (BS EN ISO 13840-1 or BS EN 62061), ITT had to translate a large number of technical manuals into each EU language. Frankly speaking, the scope of the supplementary translation work that had to be performed as a result of the EU Directive wasn’t an investment that ITT had originally wanted to make. But for ITT, like many organizations who manufacture machinery for sale in European markets, extra translation work is required for regulatory compliance.

As a result, ITT had to budget a substantial sum for localizing their documentation into all required EU languages. Instead of jumping directly ahead into translating the necessary material, the team at ITT decided to first run a pilot project by implementing DITA to achieve maximum content leverage. After comparing master topics, what they found was that they were able to reuse a significant amount of source content that was similar between different product models. As a result of more organized and structured content development, DITA helped ITT save more than 80% on their originally budgeted translation costs, enabling them to gain a competitive advantage in their market.

Furthermore, owing to this incredible success, ITT was able to localize more content than would have otherwise been possible. Because of this, ITT is considering extending DITA standards beyond technical documentation to also include their catalogs and other marketing content.

TermWiki at DITA Europe

Our own TermWiki presentation was scheduled for 6:00 pm on the first day of the DITA Europe 2010 Conference. The focus of the presentation was on how to become an expert terminologist in just 30 minutes. When the time came to present, I was pleasantly surprised to see the room packed with an audience eager to learn about this wiki-based terminology management system despite an extra long day at the conference.

Our presentation focused on the benefits of terminology management in terms of improved brand integrity, content risk management, reduced translation costs and better product usability. For those of you who are interested, here are a few notable highlights from the presentation:

  • Unlike Wikipedia, TermWiki uses only structured data driven by a backend database for all content organization. As such, TermWiki users have many distinct advantages, such as subject-specific searches for pin-point accuracy.
  • As a web-based, multilingual terminology management application, TermWiki seamlessly integrates full-scale collaboration between product/project managers, technical writers, marketing professionals, subject-matter experts, translators, reviewers, and even customers, allowing all stakeholders to easily participate in the development of consistent and accurate corporate lexicons.
  • Gone are the days when companies had to put up with multiple versions of the same glossaries, as well as inconsistent translations that led to content overlaps, duplications and confusion. TermWiki’s built-in tracking features track all changes to the letter, stamping them with a date, time, and the name of the user who made the change. It then automatically notifies the proper stakeholders when any changes are made to key terms.
  • Furthermore, TermWiki’s built-in machine translation (MT) assisted workbench and Google-like fuzzy search capabilities enable significant productivity improvement when performing multilingual localization, resulting in drastically improved ROI and shortened time-to-market.
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It goes without saying that if a company can avoid confusing its users by ensuring consistency within and across source-language documents and their translations, it will see fewer unnecessary calls to its tech support centers, leading to measurably less customer support costs. TermWiki offers corporations a powerful opportunity for doing just that!

All in all…

… the DITA crowd is the best in the industry, not only because they’re friendly and practical, but also because they’re technologically trendy: always on the look-out for cutting-edge technology that breeds measurable results. TermWiki, with its cloud-based content management capabilities, seemed to meet the DITA crowd’s expectations, both for its ease-of-use and no-nonsense functionality. Although my session was late in the day, the crowd was enthusiastic and engaged, and I enjoyed the challenge of answering their many targeted questions both during and after the presentation.

In all, the DITA Conference proved to be a rousing success for everyone involved. We got the opportunity to hear about tangible, positive results achieved from DITA implementation, ranging from increased productivity, significantly shortened development cycles, to unbeatable savings on translation and localization.

So there you have it: DITA rocks—structured content management is definitely the way to go. That, and TermWiki was in Mozart’s hometown, which is pretty cool if you ask me. If you’ve got a few minutes, go check out some music terms on, and feel free to add some yourself! Signing up for an account, of course, is free.

If you’re interested in translation, localization, or even if you just like to read the occasional blog, check out our website here.

  1. Good write up of the DITA Europe conference. I think that everyone who attended took away something valuable. There were so many impressive case studies that you couldn’t fail to.

  2. Impressive savings on concrete examples!

    btw, I have spent 2 days business trip in Vienna, and besides the fact that I think it is a lovely city, I do confirm that not all of the people there speak English. Very surprising~

  3. Thanks for the insight scoop on the happenings at DITA. It sounds like it was quite a successful outing for you.


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