Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The roofrack manual that I mention below made good use of visual instructions. As a linguist, I have a deep love of words, and of clear writing. But as a technical communicator, I fully appreciate the importance of good visual instructions, of using well-crafted drawings, diagrams, illustrations and screen clips to guide the user. On the weekend of 23rd and 24th June 2007, the UK chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (or STC) is organising a two-day Visual Communications Weekend in Cambridge. What better excuse could one need for a wonderful summer's weekend in one of England's prettiest university towns? And they have top-notch speakers lined up, with Caroline Jarrett, Matthew Ellison, Phylise Banner Klein, Conrad Taylor and Patrick Hofmann all presenting over the course of the weekend. Take a look here for booking details - and I hope to see you there!
Fitting a roofrack... it should be such a simple thing, shouldn't it? And overall, I must congratulate Thule. Their roofrack was pretty easy to set up, and the manual made the process relatively painless. Relatively. Because lurking on something like page 6 of the manual is the harmless phrase "use a 2.5 mm Allen key to remove this grommet from your car". Now, I'm lucky. Somewhere in the house, I did have a 2.5 mm Allen key. But many people don't. And this is what infuriates people about user documentation. Why not print on the cover in big letters "You need a 2.5 mm Allen key to fit this roofrack"? Or better yet, why not do what Ikea does, and simply include the correct size of Allen key in the pack?

The good news is that the roofrack is now fitted, ready to put the tandem on the roof of my car and head off for two glorious weeks of cycling with my son. I will be out of the office from Monday 28th May, and back at my desk on Monday 11th June.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Localization feedback wanted! Microsoft are actively seeking feedback on the localization quality of their software products. They've set up a Microsoft Terminology Community Forum, headed up by Britta Simon. Here's what Britta says in her summary of the scheme:

On occasion, Microsoft has received feedback that some terms used in the interface differ from those commonly used in the local language. This may occur when the technical glossary of that language is still in development, or when languages evolve over time. Using terminology that closely reflects the local culture is an important goal for us. We welcome your opinion when we localize our products and we are looking forward to receiving your input on our terminology.

I think this is a commendable step by Microsoft, and ultimately it can only serve to help the localization quality of their software products.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Trados and Word bookmarks have long been awkward bedfellows. Microsoft Word's use of hidden bookmarks to delimit the target reference points for cross-references in a Word file has caused fun and games for more than one TM system, but I've most commonly encountered it while using the Trados system. So I really like Trados's new recommended workflow of using TagEditor to translate Word files. We've been using this approach for some months now at SalfTrans and, on the whole, we find it is a considerable improvement in terms of data integrity when working with complex Word files.

But I've recently noticed that for some Word files, bookmarks which are present in the source-language Word 2003 file do not actually get correctly picked up and converted when the Word file is converted to TagEditor's TTX format. They are simply missing from the TTX file. And therefore, simply missing from the target-language Word file. So after translation in TagEditor 7.5, we have to go through and manually re-insert the bookmarks for cross-references in the final target-language Word file. Which is time-consuming, and not necessarily happy-making.

Today, a kind soul suggested that he thought there may be a limit to the number of bookmarks that a Word file, or perhaps TagEditor, can cope with. Thank you, Iwan.

We experimented. I got rid of some non-essential bookmarks (I perhaps removed around 100 non-essential bookmarks beginning with HLT and with TOC), and then converted the same Word 2003 file to TagEditor again. This time, the explicitly named bookmarks in the Word 2003 file were indeed present in the TTX file.

Which brings me to my question: Does anyone know how many bookmarks TagEditor (using Trados 7.5) can cope with in a Word 2003 file before it "faults out"? I gather from the Microsoft knowledgebase that Word 2003 can cope with about 16,000 bookmarks in a single Word file (OK, 16,379 bookmarks if we want to get fussy about it!). The Word file that we have contains less than that - perhaps 150 to 200 bookmarks, some of which are simple bookmarks, and some of which are hidden bookmarks.

Any information will be gratefully received.