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International Product Communication at SMA Solar Technology AG

SMA adds authoring support to existing Across solution for improved translation efficiency

SOA and WOA Magazine

At SMA Solar Technology AG, the creation of multilingual product information is subject to comprehensive quality control and process security. For this purpose, the world market leader in photovoltaic inverters had decided to introduce crossAuthor Linguistic authoring support in addition to the Across Language Server. crossAuthor Linguistic enables technical writers to use the central translation memory and terminology system of Across as well as the seamlessly integrated Controlled Language Authoring Tool (CLAT) of IAI Saarbrücken. The integration of the two technologies for authoring support – database-based on the one hand and rule-based on the other – in crossAuthor Linguistic is unique in the market and was introduced a few weeks ago along with the Across v5 product generation. SMA's decision in favor of crossAuthor Linguistic represents the result of an extensive market evaluation.

SMA Solar Technology AG, listed in the TecDAX of the Frankfurt stock exchange since last year, is the world market leader in photovoltaic inverters, a central component of every solar system. With subsidiaries in eleven countries on four continents, the product and company communication volume, too, has grown considerably.

SMA Solar Technology AG has been using the Across Language Server as the central platform for all language resources and translation processes since 2008. It is seamlessly connected to the SCHEMA ST4 editorial system and other interacting systems.

Henceforth, SMA will provide the authors of its technical documents with system-based support for the compliance with grammar and style rules and make sure that source texts are written with the subsequent translation in mind. To this end, SMA deploys the crossAuthor Linguistic component as an extension to the existing Across Language Server.

crossAuthor Linguistic is available as an add-on to all common editors, such as MS Word, Adobe FrameMaker, InDesign, PTC Arbortext, Just XMetaL, and others. For every sentence he writes, the author sees the actual editor as well as corresponding wording and terminology entries from the Across databases and marks of the rule-based quality assurance by CLAT.

"Professionals agree that a high, perhaps even the highest efficiency boosting potential for translations lies in the consistent wording of the source texts", explains Professor Johann Haller of IAI Saarbrücken. IAI has developed the CLAT authoring tool and is one of the leading institutions in the field of linguistic intelligence. "Consider, for example, the consistency of the texts. If different variants of specialized terms are used, the number of variants is multiplied by the number of languages. The same is true of grammatical mistakes or other incorrect wording."

Other instruments include the possibility to limit the length of sentences or to define style rules for specific departments or text types. For example, regular use of direct or indirect address or the consistent use of active constructions affects the consistency and clarity of the texts. Most importantly, the subsequent translation is greatly facilitated.

Another way to minimize translation expenses is to use wording for which translations already exist. crossAuthor Linguistic is the only tool in the market that offers both the database and the rule-based approach in a single integrated environment. Thus, the writer has all information he needs, e.g. to decide whether to comply with a style rule or to reuse an existing phrase.

"The integration of the technologies and methods relevant for the product communication contributes to using synergies, streamlining processes, and improving the quality of the contents", explains Jürgen Sapara, Head of Technical Documentation, who is responsible for editorial aspects as well as the subject of multilingualism at SMA Solar Technology AG. "This not only leads to a higher quality of source texts, but also and most importantly to better, faster, and more inexpensive foreign-language versions."

The tekom Annual Conference, which will be held next week from November 4 to 6, 2009, in Wiesbaden, Germany, offers a fine opportunity for a closer look at the crossAuthor Linguistic authoring support. Both IAI (hall 4, booth 458) and Across Systems (hall 1, booth 115) will be present. In its lecture "Centralized translation management at SMA: How to keep an eye on processes, quality and costs", SMA Technology will provide insight into its project work.

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