DITA 1.2 Feature Article
Using XLIFF to Translate DITA Projects
An OASIS DITA Adoption Technical Committee Publication
On behalf of the DITA Adoption Technical Committee
Rodolfo Raya, Bryan Schnabel, and JoAnn Hackos
21 May 2012
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DISCLAIMER: All examples presented in this article were produced
using one or more tools chosen at the author's discretion and in no way reflect
endorsement of the tools by the OASIS DITA Adoption Technical Committee.
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Technical Committee as a Committee Draft. It has not been reviewed and/or
approved by the OASIS membership at-large.
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||29 August 2011
||Draft of the Committee Note -- Feature Article
||7 October 2011
||Hackos, Schnabel, Raya
||Draft for committee vote
||7 March 2012
||Added workflow diagrams
|Committee Approved Draft
||21 May 2012
||Adoption TC approved final draft
As products and processes are updated, you will update some of your topics, write new
ones, and need to update your translations. At that point, you will see the benefits
of translation reuse with these techniques:
- reuse In-Context Exact (ICE) matches
- recover translations of similar text from Translation Memory (TM)
- generate updated translations using Example-Based Machine Translation
The maintenance workflow proceeds as follows:
- Convert the updated DITA map and topics to XLIFF.
- Using your translation tool, compare the new XLIFF with the one you previously
had translated and recover In-Context Exact (ICE) matches.
This step recovers the translations of text that has not changed since last
- After recovering all ICE matches, mark all translated segments as
untranslatable ("do not translate") in the translation tools.
Translations will remain visible in the XLIFF as context information for the
translator but will not need to be changed.
- If you have not yet updated your Translation Memory with the translations from
the previous cycle, import the TMX into the Translation Memory of your
- Use your TM engine to retrieve matches for the segments that remain
A TM engine can evaluate the similarities between current text requiring
translation and entries that exist in its database. A match is a
perfect match when source text is exactly the same as the text
found in the translation memory. Entries identical to the text being translated
are considered perfect matches; a match is fuzzy when
source text is similar but not 100% equal to the text found in the
- If your translation memory only contains entries from a very similar project,
you may want to accept all perfect matches as final.
Because there is no guarantee that these matches are the right translations,
you should let professional translators approve them. Nevertheless, you may ask
your LSP to set a special price for segments with good matches from your own
- Use EBMT and recover additional matches.
Sometimes the difference between the old text and the new one is simply an
updated number. Such a small change is something a good CAT (Computer-Aided
Translation) program can correct automatically using EBMT techniques. An EBMT
engine can also automatically correct the translation of known terms with the
aid of a terminology database.
You should now have an XLIFF file ready to send to an LSP for completing
the translation cycle.
- Send the XLIFF file, partially translated via the preceding steps, with an
updated PDF rendering.
- Receive back the translated XLIFF file and convert it back to the DITA map and
- Remember to update your TM engine when you receive the translated version
- Finally, if your translation budget allows it, generate a PDF rendering of the
translated project and send it with a copy of the translated XLIFF to your LSP
If the reviewer finds an error, it can be corrected in the XLIFF file
and sent back to you to update your topics and your TM.
The full maintenance workflow is shown in the following diagram: