12 Replies Latest reply on Mar 6, 2008 7:11 AM by ginafromtampa

    Internationalize Help files

      My company is going to begin to internationalize our products. I currently use RoboHelp X5 to create Microsoft HTML help files for these products. We also have printed Word documents for user manuals, install manuals, and quick start guides. I really have no clue what to do to accomplish this. Can someone pioint me in the right direction?
        • 1. Re: Internationalize Help files
          MergeThis Level 4
          The usual process is for your company to identify someone "over there" (wherever that may be) that will do the translation, preferably in RoboHelp. They would generate and publish the localized version to your appropriate server.

          Any other combination of scenarios will bring all forms of pain down upon your shoulders. (This is not necessarily a RoboHelp thing; this caveat would apply no matter what product you're using!)

          Good luck,
          • 2. Re: Internationalize Help files
            MJRL Level 1
            So basically we need to find a translator that knows RoboHelp.

            And what happens when I make changes to the English version of the help topics? We need to get all the topics retranslated?
            • 3. Re: Internationalize Help files
              ---Dirk_Bock Level 1

              Originally posted by: MJRL
              So basically we need to find a translator that knows RoboHelp.

              And what happens when I make changes to the English version of the help topics? We need to get all the topics retranslated?

              That's not quite true. Especially for producing Microsoft HTML Help you can give all the HTM files as well as the contents (HHC) and index (HHK) to the translator.

              Note that RoboHelp messes up your files when trying to handle a help system in a language not supported by it. A safer bet is to make a (local) copy of the project, let the mentioned files be translated, copy them over the original ones in the copied project and use another tool (Microsoft HTML Help, Workshop, FAR) to do the actual compilation.

              The same process works for languages supported by RoboHelp, of course.

              Search the forums for a lot of detailled hints on the translation procedure and its inherent pitfalls.


              ---Dirk Bock

              • 4. Re: Internationalize Help files
                Peter Grainge Adobe Community Professional
                There are translation companies that specialise in translating help projects as well as paper based documentation. They have special tools that enable them to work on your project while preserving the links etc. Next time you use them, they can identify the new stuff and translate that.

                You need to identify such a firm in your area.

                • 5. Re: Internationalize Help files
                  MJRL Level 1
                  Thanks for everyone for your comments. It seems like this is not an easy task to accomplish.
                  • 6. Re: Internationalize Help files

                    We just upgraded from RoboHelp X5 to the new Adobe Technical Suite (RoboHelp 7, Captivate 3, Framemaker 8...). I've been working with localization and RoboHelp for the past three years, but I’m also looking for a more efficient process. Currently we have 5 separate RoboHelp projects -- one for each language (English, French, German, Latin American Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese). There are about 400 topics in each project. As you can imagine, this is very difficult and expensive to manage. I've worked with three localization companies and they all have staff who are experts with RoboHelp. They anticipate issues I haven't thought of (like the old "kadov" tag issues).

                    I would like to simplify our current process by putting all the languages in one project. Below our two current localization processes:

                    The first is the most expensive, but accurate, way to localize (sending the entire RoboHelp projects to the vendor). Costs are based on the following:

                    Setup (difference reports, etc.)
                    Translations (based on our translation memory file, which they maintain and we own)
                    RoboHelp (putting the translations into RoboHelp and formatting)
                    Localizing graphics (we use PhotoShop with text layers -- we no longer use screenshots and limit the amount of graphics)
                    Project Management (10% of the total cost)


                    1. Check out individual language RoboHelp projects from Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 source control.
                    2. Edit the English project (note, our file names are exactly the same – in English – for each project).
                    3. Zip all the projects and FTP them to the localization vendor for quotes, and once approved, send purchase order to start work. (Get ready for sticker shock if you’ve never worked with localization companies).
                    4. They use Beyond Compare or some other tool to do a “difference report” of the entire project (html files, table of contents, index, glossary, etc.). NOTE: In RoboHelp X5, the “kadov” and other tags that RoboHelp would insert into the html code came up as differences, and we were charged for them. RoboHelp 7 has resolved this problem.
                    5. They use TRADOS and other tools for the translators to create the localized text.
                    6. Their RoboHelp staff edits the RoboHelp projects.
                    7. They FTP us back the entire projects.
                    8. Generate FlashHelp in each language, which our Webmaster posts on our Web site per language (we also enable the users to download “offline” FlashHelp in case they can’t access the internet). When users switch our software application to the language of their choice, FlashHelp launches in the correct language).
                    9. Check in to Microsoft Visual Studio Source Control.
                    Alternatively, when we have just a few topic changes, we follow the procedure below, but it’s more time-consuming and easier on our end to make mistakes:
                    1. Edit the English project.
                    2. Send the changed or added html files, TOC (*.hhc), Index (*.hhk) and Glossary (*.glo) files to the localization vendor for each language’s RoboHelp project.
                    3. Manually import the localized files into each project (this can really be difficult if your TOC and file structure is not exactly the same and you are aren't fluent in the languages).
                    4. Same as #6, above.
                    5. Check in to Microsoft Visual Studio Source Control.

                    I want to change this process because it’s difficult to make sure your localized projects have all the same text, TOC, index, and glossary entries. If you can look at topics side-by-side in the same project, it would be much easier.

                    The new RoboHelp 7 enables you to view several topics at once, both horizontally and vertically with tabs. However, it looks in the example in the Adobe RoboHelp 7 Reviewer's Guide (www.adobe.com/products/robohelp/pdfs/robohelp_7_reviewers_guide.pdf) that these are actually different file names (such as EN-topic1.htm and FR-topic1.htm). However, I don't know what the performance would be if I multiplied my 400 topics by 5 in my project (although I would only output one language at a time).

                    I know you can use conditional build tags so that you can see all the languages in one topic, but that really isn't efficient because you can't see the topics side by side.

                    You can also create multiple tables of contents and indexes (per language) in RoboHelp 7.

                    It would be FANTASTIC if the RoboHelp product manager published some best practices for localization.

                    If anyone has any thoughts to the above, please let me know. In the meantime, I will run this by our vendors.

                    • 7. Re: Internationalize Help files
                      jl2000 Level 1
                      I'm a complete newb on Help authoring and RH so excuse my silly question.

                      A big new feature touted in RH7 is Unicode support. Doesn't that make all the translating easier? I mean - how does Unicode fit into this. Why is it such a great feature?

                      TIA your responses,
                      • 8. Internationalize Help files
                        Ben Minson Level 2
                        Unicode is a big benefit because previous versions of RoboHelp had a default encoding of windows-1252. Now the default is utf-8 (and it has been mentioned in the forum how, if you make a change to the code, RoboHelp sometimes changes it right back to its default, as with windows-1252 in previous versions). Before, I had to do a lot of manual tweaking to get unsupported languages to work in my help systems. RH7's unicode support will save me a lot of work.

                        I don't know about it making translation easier, but it makes working with the files after translation easier because I'm not looking at a bunch of squares, question marks, or other nonsense that I was getting before.

                        • 9. Re: Internationalize Help files
                          ginafromtampa Level 1
                          The Unicode support means you can create and edit RoboHelp projects in other languages including spell check, thesaurus, etc. See the link in my previous post to the reviewer's guide.
                          • 10. Re: Internationalize Help files
                            ---Dirk_Bock Level 1

                            at which step in your procedure do you want to see the topics in different languages side by side? Do you check the translation result or do you want to play nice to the translator?

                            When working with a Translation Memory System, the translator works segment by segment; a segment being a sentence. He has all the contents of the source language topic right before his eyes. The system ensures that each and every segment will be translated. The content of each topic will be the same in each language as long as the translation agency performs at least a minimum of the usual checks.

                            TOC, index, and glossaries should pose no problem as well - as long as the translation agency knows which files have to be translated and their translator know that they have to dig into the usually protected parts of the text. If the translation agency has RH-experts this should work out nicely.

                            On the other hand, working in unprotected mode in a Translation Memory System incurs a high risk. As soon as the translator "damages" a tag, parts of the TOC can become unusable.

                            The most likely source for problems with the index are index entries in the topics itself, especially if there are entries in the HHK, too. this might lead a translator to the false comclusion that all keywords are in the HHK-file, and he has thus no reason to look for them in the topics.

                            I think the basic decision you have to make is wether you shift the quality control over to your translation agency or want to do it yourself. If you want the agency to handle this, you should set up a procedure for them to follow.


                            ---Dirk Bock
                            • 11. Re: Internationalize Help files
                              ginafromtampa Level 1
                              I have decided to import my four localized (translated) RoboHelp projects into my English RoboHelp 7 project. The new feature that lets you view the topics side by side, especially vertically, since each topic opens in a new tab, is a great benefit. Here's what has happened to me and I hope to start a discussion because I'm not sure my solution is the right one. Several versions back of my 5 RoboHelp X5 projects (same text, different languages), due to budgetary issues, management asked me to only have the translation company translate about 20% of the files. In the meantime over the past year, I've revised the English help docs and now the localized docs are even furthermore out of sync. (What is really frustrating is it seems as though our non-English users are not using the localized help docs either -- I never get any comments on them, only on the English docs). We have the same budget issues this year, and now I've been asked to go through all 400+ topics and determine how much they've actually changed since last year to decide if we want to have them translated or not. Management's goal is to have me cut the translations costs in half (the quote is currently $33,000 to translate the English docs into the 4 languages). I'm using Beyond Compare to look at the differences in the English topics between now and a year ago. I have to read through all the html code changes since even if the text hasn't changed, RoboHelp has added code between versions X5 and 7 such as removing the "kadov" tags. I don't have another solution for determining which topics to translate. The problem is the following:

                              In order to make it easier to line up the files, I'm renaming the localized topics (which currently have the same English names) with the prefix "FR_, "DE", "ES", and "PT" to denote the languages. In the RoboHelp Project Manager, I am creating a new folder within the current folder structure with the English file name, then importing the localized topics to that folder. I can't think of any other way to keep the folder structure straight. I had to do it this way because when you import a RoboHelp html file, RoboHelp 7 uses the topic title, not the file name, in the Project Manager! This makes no sense. Why doesn't it import the file name???

                              Still waiting for a localization best practices document from Adobe/RoboHelp's product manager. Does anyone have any suggestions for my dilemma?

                              • 12. Re: Internationalize Help files
                                ginafromtampa Level 1
                                I imported about 30 French topics into my English project (which has about 500 topics now). I had lots of problems with RoboHelp freezing up, that I decide to remove the French topics and just keep my localized projects separate.