Tech Publication & Service Info

Improving Workflows in Tech Pub Translation

19 January 2015 | Team EACPDS


Why Translation Workflows Matter

For companies who require product documentation to be localized for regional use, the sheer number of translated objects makes translation management very important to the business and organization as a whole. Suppose, for the purpose of simple math, that you are translating to 9 languages. One source language plus 9 target languages is 10 languages total. That means up to 90% of the content you are managing is translated. 10% of those objects could be global images that do not require translation, which would drop managed translated content to 80%. In global companies, it is fair to say that a large majority of the content you are responsible for is translated.

translation management workflow

One might think that the translation process would simply involve handing off copies of documents to translation teams and then waiting a few days/weeks for the local language versions to arrive, but in reality this process is much more complex. Even when the material is developed in a sophisticated technical documentation tool like PTC Arbortext, it remains necessary to closely administer this activity to avoid risks associated with mandates that vary in different geographies, inefficient file tracking, incomplete reviews, and delays throughout the translation lifecycle.

This is the first of a two part series that discusses how to optimize translation processes by coupling two complementary tools, PTC Translation Manager and PTC ProjectLink. By combining these tools, organizations can overcome several obstacles that either slow workflow processes or increase costs during the translation of technical documentation. Part one outlines these tools and the processes they are designed to address. Part two details how more efficient translation workflows can be arranged in order to expand past administering translated XML objects, to include management of peripheral translation activities such as cost quotations, file sharing, collaboration with translation service providers, and quality assurance processes.

Arbortext Translation Manager Workflow

PTC’s Translation Manager

Translation Manager is a component of the PTC Windchill Service Information Manager. The Translation Manager prepares content for translation by identifying document components to be translated, creating work packages for translation or translation service providers, and setting the InTranslation lifecycle state. Key features include:

  • Automate the creation of translation packages using workflows
  • Restrict creation of translation packages to authorized translation users
  • Generate a translation package from a Publication Structure or an Information Structure or
  • include select document objects by assigning the proper translation attribute and life cycle state
  • Automatically associate translated dynamic documents with their source objects
  • Identify whether a translation exists for a source document or not
  • Bind specific revisions and iterations of source objects to translated target objects
  • Publish translated dynamic document structures.

translation management workflow

Post-translation, the Translation Manager stores content by linking translated objects to source document objects in the translation library and sets the Translated lifecycle state.

Windchill ProjectLink

ProjectLink enables defining and executing project plans as well as associating project tasks with product deliverables. Through a self-administered virtual workspace, ProjectLink provides project management capabilities and access to accurate product information for resources inside or outside of your firewall.

translation management workflow

In this solution, Windchill ProjectLink is featured to facilitate translation tasks outside your organization.

translation management workflow

Windchill Workflow and Reporting Features

Workflow and Reporting are core features of the PTC product suite and are available in all Windchill-based products including Arbortext Content Manager, Service Information Manager,  and ProjectLink.


Windchill Review and Approval Processes are used to automatically set the state of objects to the target lifecycle state and invite a list of Reviewers to provide comments.

translation management workflow


Windchill offers multiple tools to help decision-makers easily visualize trends, patterns and relationships using graphical and drill-down reports of key performance indicators. Simple and easy-to-use reporting and charting tools enable users to configure and save reports.

translation management workflow


PTC Arbortext Publishing Engine is a server-based system that assembles XML content and automatically publishes the content in both print and electronic forms, all with high-quality layout and formatting.


Predefined stylesheets are used for layout and page composition. There can be different formatting options based on the language attribute assigned in the XML file.

translation management workflow

XLIFF for Generated Text

Text that is generated by the stylesheet is translated once and stored for future use in an independent file. For example, text like the word “Table” is not translated with content. This is supported using XLIFF technologies. XLIFF is the XML Localization Interchange File Format which is used to store extracted text and carry the data from one step to another in the localization process.

translation management workflow


As you can see, there are some pretty sophisticated tools available to support the translation process. The challenge is knowing how to leverage these tools to create a process that maximizes efficiency. Stay tuned, because we will be discussing just that in part two.