On 21 September 2022, the Head of the Centre’s Workflow Management Section attended the NORDIC TechKomm Conference in Copenhagen. This conference primarily gathers experts in the field of technical communication (technical writers), but also translation and language professionals in general. The conference was organised around several topic tracks:
- Skills development
- Content generation and structuring methods
- Intelligent information for users
- Technological development
- Translation processes
- User assistance tools and platforms
The main focus was on the authoring process for documentation and content. Experts in this field and related ones presented the challenges they face when carrying out their work, the tools that facilitate it and the skills needed to do it.
The Centre’s participation in this conference consisted of presenting Content and Layout Formatting for Translation Purposes. The presentation focused on the work that comes before and after the translation phase – what we call ‘pre- and post-processing’ activities.
Nowadays, translators cannot work efficiently with written content if it cannot be processed by natural language processing tools like CAT tools: translation memories, machine translation, terminology databases and many other linguistic features available in a translation tool would be unusable without a good pre-formatted file, regardless of its original format.
XML-based tools: the future of content authoring
The presentation concluded by highlighting the importance of using XML-based authoring tools, including for translation purposes. This is a hot topic among the technical writing community, which is trying to implement this technology as much as possible. Among the benefits of using XML-based tools, processing activities (at both pre- and post-processing stages) are considerably reduced and simplified, while the use of content is optimised, e.g. quality consistency, proper re-use for different purposes, data structuring and much more.
The participants appreciated the Centre’s presentation for the first time at this type of conference. Many people recognised that pre- and post-processing work as part of the translation workflow, as well as technical writing, were underestimated in terms of difficulty, skills and time.