Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Server upgrade: We're replacing one of our main servers this weekend at Salford Translations Ltd. We'll be doing the work over a weekend to minimise disruption, but you may experience a short delay in emails reaching our company this weekend. Normal service should be resumed by Monday morning!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

DITA is an open-source technical documentation standard, a subset of XML that is designed for use in writing and publishing technical documentaiton. One of the big strengths of DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture, to give it its full name) is the power of single-sourcing. You can write one master document that uses conditional text, and you can output to multiple formats. So for example, you could write a DITA document explains to users how to use a computer peripheral. There may be slight differences between setting it up to work with an Apple Mac, and setting it up to work with a PC. With DITA, you could describe both and use conditional text. And then, at publishing time, say to the system "please generate for me a user manual in PDF format for PC users". Or you could push a different button, and generate a PDF aimed at Mac users. Or maybe output the same material to an online Help system, or to HTML for use on your website, or to XML for use in your call centre database, or..... I have seen DITA in use, and it is impressive stuff.

The UK chapter of the Society for Technical Communication is organising a two-day introduction to DITA in Manchester, England on 10th and 11th November 2007.
The Saturday morning (10th November) offers a high-level introduction to DITA, to the costs and benefits of rolling out a DITA implementation. We'll be guided through this by Indi Liepa of Nokia, who led the DITA implementation in her country and has worked with DITA-based documentation for three years now. And we'll hear from a leading tools vendor on the financial return on investment of implementing the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA).

The Saturday afternoon's DITA workshop sessions will explore one of DITA's secret weapons: Specialisation. Out of the box, the open-source DITA system does what it says on the tin, to quote the British TV advert. But it can do more.... so much more. Using DITA specialisation, you can expand the language, define new ways of doing things in DITA, and still remain faithful to the DITA ethos. Alan Houser will lead us through this, drawing on his many years of experience as a FrameMaker trainer, XML trainer, and member of the OASIS committee that draws up and defines the DITA specification. This is a unique opportunity to explore this exciting field under the direction of a leading expert in the field who is also a qualified and highly respected trainer.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday fun: As part of the make-over of our website, we have introduced a few Google Gadgets onto our site. For the moment, we have tools that we find useful in our everyday work: a currency converter, a world clock, and a very handy little tool that generates something called a "tiny URL", so you can easily email a link to a web page. You have a look at them by clicking on this link. And we hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Google "dominates world search", according to a report on the BBC News website. Apparently, Google carried out more than half of all search requests carried out around the world in August 2007 - some 37 billion searches!

Fascinatingly, when we first launched our original Salford Translations website ten years ago, Google did not even exist. The big players then were Yahoo and Lycos, with trendy new upstarts such as HotBot. How quickly the landscape changes!

Monday, October 08, 2007

The new website design for translation vendor Salford Transaltions Ltd
In with the new: Leading Manchester translation vendor Salford Translations Ltd have relaunched their company website, with a clearer design and with lots of information about how to get your manuals translated and your websites localized.
The old Salford Translations Ltd website
Out with the old: Back in 1997, we were one of the first translation companies to launch a website. Our old website has done good service, but the time has come to redesign our web presence.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

STC UK launches new website: It was about five years ago that the penny dropped. Until then, I'd always considered myself part of the tribe known as technical translators, as a translation professional. But as I was sitting on the 192 bus one fine morning, I realised that I am actually part of a much broader collective, that I am actually a technical communicator. Much of my work involves discussing workflows with clients, workflows not just for translation of their manuals, websites or help systems, but workflows that are fully end-to-end. That's where the technical communicator bit comes in; I need to understand the work not just of technical translators, but also of writers, technical authors, information architects, and managers overseeing publishing budgets across a range of languages. That realisation led to me making various changes in my professional life, one of them being to join the Society for Technical Communication (STC). Over the past few years, I've attended various STC conferences in Europe and the USA, presented papers at STC conferences in London, Munich and Seattle, learned a lot, and met a whole bunch of bright, fun people. I've got a lot out of it, and this year, I'm putting a bit back in, giving up a bit of my free time to fill the role of President of the UK Chapter of the STC. Here again, I'm fortunate to work alongside a great team of people (the management team of STC UK - unsung heroes who give up their free time to put on training events for the tech authoring and technical communication communities). One of the things that we've decided to do differently this year in STC UK is to change the way we communicate with our members, and we've started with the STC UK website. Today, the new STC UK website went live at, and you can find details of forthcoming technical documentation conferences, events, seminars and workshops there. And to those who have been involved in launching the new STC UK website (and they know who they are), a very big "thank you", and a very big "well done".

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Online Help localization: To mark our attendance at the European Online Help conference, Salford Translations Ltd are running a special offer during October: we are offering a 10% discount for all translations of software help systems. Follow this link for full information.
Manchester tech doc conference: Technical translation specialists Salford Translations Ltd are the headline sponsors of a two-day technical documentation conference in Manchester in November. STC UK, the UK chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) will be running a two-day seminar aimed at technical authors, and covering topics such as the DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) open standard for technical manuals, the use of XML in technical documentation, and using FrameMaker for round tripping to publish XML data. The conference with special guest presenter Alan Houser will be held at the Novotel in Manchester on 10th and 11th November 2007. Discounted booking rates for delegates are available until 19th October 2007, so book early!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Photo montage of Vilnius pictures, copyright Nick Rosenthal
"So how was Vilnius?" The European Online Help conference was held in Lithuania this year. Matthew Ellison and his team took a bold step in organising this technical documentation conference slightly off the beaten track, but it proved to be a big success. The conference hotel was about 20 km outside Vilnius, which meant that everyone stayed in and around the hotel most of the time, so there was plenty of social interaction. And the fire dance in the evening was a huge hit with everybody.