[Post 9 of the DITA Loc Wire series] In our sixth episode of the DITA Loc Wire series, we recommended transferring the content provided by the CMS using raw DITA files instead of XLIFF. Another approach, often suggested by IT Architects, is to integrate the CMS with the Translation Management System to save time and avoid human error.

Three integration models are available

Manual

  • The CM exports the translation package onto a local server
  • The localization manager sends it to the LSP with any process (mail, FTP, Dropbox, Eb Portal)
  • The LSP delivers the localized packages
  • The localization manager uploads them into the CMS
  • The localization manager closes the translation project in the CMS
  • The localization manager handles the financial process (quoting, approval, invoice reception, payment) through the standard procurement system of the company.

Tight integration

Both systems provide APIs. Developers design automatic connectors binding the two systems, whereby:

  • The topics are sent to the TMS in real-time
  • Provisions are included for cancelling a project
  • Translated topics are uploaded into the CMS as soon as they are available

Tight integration can embed the project management console of the TMS in the CMS, and display the financial information (quote, approval, invoicing).

Loose integration

This model consists of partial automation of the manual model where:

  • The translation packages are sent via shared folders (usually SFTP)
  • Both systems poll their input folder to process the packages with a predefined frequency (usually twice a day).

What Techpub teams actually need

As far as timing is concerned, DITA CMSs manage technical information which is authored by a technical writer and reviewed by an SME, and content validation can take time. Usually, every file requires contextual information for better translation.

Most DITA localization projects follow the waterfall model: the document is sent for localization upon completion. When working in an agile environment, content is made available at every sprint and is translated within a sprint. Sprints usually take one to two weeks. Unlike web content, technical content does not require instant transfer to translation but can be grouped in weekly sprints. Synchronizing twice a day is ideal.

Concerning operational integration, the financial process with the LSP is often managed with the corporate ERP and the procurement system. The role of the localization manager within the documentation team differs from the localization project manager of an LSP, who manages streams of files and queries, translation assignment and progress as well as the QA cycle. Accordingly, embedding the TMS console in the CMS, although technically feasible, has limited interest for the content creator.

Tight integration is state-of-the-art, as well as expensive and rigid

APIs are designed to enable integration and users tend to opt for this solution. Yet they have two major drawbacks. Number one, designing and testing a tight integration connector takes effort and time and pricing is high, given that it serves a niche market. A connector averages USD 8,000 to 10,000 per year, which corresponds to transferring three translation projects per day (6 minutes per transfer at 50$ / hr). Number two, the connectors are designed for a given CMS and TMS release. Whenever one is upgraded, the connector must be validated again. As a result, companies work with outdated versions of their CMS and TMS until the system grinds to a halt.

We recommend selecting a loose integration model

A tight integration model is definitely the best solution for IT system aesthetes and tool suppliers who want to lock their clients.

We strongly advise our customers to implement a loose integration model:

  • It supports their business objectives, even in the most demanding agile processes.
  • They are not stuck with a tool release
  • They don’t have to pay for a costly integration
  • They can upgrade both systems freely and independently
  • They can work with a manual model until both systems are fully stabilized