Software Localization

Online Help Localization

Localizing windows software has an easy phase and a hard phase. Usually, the user interface elements, such as the menu and dialogs, are easy. In most cases, the amount of translatable text is minimal. This leads many companies to the conclusion: “OK, let’s go for other language versions of our software.” If the process involves one language, you might not even consider using a localization tool.

The hard job

Does your software have a large online Help file? Guess what is the hard part? Translating the initial language version can be expensive; however, this part of the process is not difficult. The difficult part comes when you improve your software and online Help. Finding the differences between the original Help file and the updated Help can be hard, especially as you want to keep your translation costs low and the translation process efficient.

No tools

Why is that so? When we began localizing software from English to German, back in 1995, no tools existed for online Help localization. Computer-aided translation tools focused on documents for printed manuals; software localization tools ignored online Help. And no online Help authoring tool had real localization support.

Localizing with HAT

You can use the same process we did: we translated online Help in the same online Help authoring tool that is used to create the software’s original Help by copying the original project. We did that easily because we used a tool we know ell, ForeHelp. But with every new version, we had difficulties in determing what needed changing. Fortunately, the Help authoring tool was extended with a functionality that listed the changed and new topics. Unfortunately, we found that determing what changed in a Help topic was still very tedious work.

Localizing with HTML Editor

Later on, with the introduction of HTML-based online Help, html editors, like Dreamweaver or FrontPage, became very popular for creating the translated versions. But, even with these tools, determing changes is difficult. This is because changing the layout of an html Help page usually changes the file date too. Therefore, you might that the page needs updating, when it really doesn’t. You might have to read an entire page, sentence by sentence, to determine this. Even a file diff tool does not help much because it usually does not see the difference between html tags and real content.

HATs with localization support

A few years ago, the first online Help authoring tools offered localization support. Often, this kind of feature exports xml file(s). Surprisingly these tools are either topic based or process such small chunks of text that it is hard to determine the context. The context is usually in a separate file. None of these Help authoring tools (HATs) offer built-in translation memory support.

Localization Tools with HTML Help support

The newest generation of localization tools like Sisulizer, finally integrates online help localization in a software localization process. Whenever you implement changes in the software, and/or html help, just rescan, and your translator sees exactly the strings that must be translated. And, because the text is segmented in linguistic sentences, instead of splitting at html tags, the context is always clear. At long last, you have access to a tool that allows all parts of your application to share the same translation memory.

You may want to give this tool a try. Click the following link to get a 30-day full evaluation version: Sisulizer Localization Tool Evaluation. During the Setup process, please choose Sisulizer Enterprise.

— Renate Reinartz

5 replies on “Online Help Localization”

It seems to me that you should say more openly who you are and that you are representing one of the tool vendors rather than sort of underhandedly selling your tool.



Jost, thanks for your opinion.
We have mentioned this clearly in the imprint, and the who we are page. We do not hide our day job. I don’t think it helps to mention this in every article.
But you may be right that I should mention it in this article because I link to the tool we sell in our day job. Let’s wait if other readers agree to your comment. I’m open to discuss this.


Yeah, if you are specifically mentioning your tool it’d be nicer to mention it next to the link.

I don’t think it’s necessary otherwise, though.

BTW, nice blog.

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