Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a platform-independent way to represent data. Simply put, XML enables you to create data that can be read by any application on any platform. You can even edit and create it by hand because it is based on the same tag-based technology that underlies HTML. That is why XML is considered an extensible language and why it has been adopted by the localization industry.
Because of the freedom of the HTML tags, however, the way in which XML must be written is very strict. Every tag must have a closing tag and all nodes must be ordered properly. If any of these rules are broken, an XML document will simply fail to function. HTML, as many have found, will work even if the document only vaguely looks like an HTML document.
XML is concerned with the electronic representation of the structure and content of information. It is a simplified subset of an ISO standard known as SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). Extensible Markup Language is the key to creating markups that can be used by any number of applications beyond the Web browser. In other words, XML is independent of the application that created it.
Some publishers that can import and/or export text in XML format are:
With XML it becomes feasible to target multiple output formats from a single XML source document.
Maybe it is a little hard to understand, but XML does not DO anything. XML was created to structure, store, and transport raw data. An example of an XML element is as illustrated:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<food> <name>Strawberry Belgian Waffles</name> <price>$7.95</price> <description>Light Belgian waffles covered with strawberries and whipped cream</description> <calories>900</calories> </food> <food> <name>Berry-Berry Belgian Waffles</name> <price>$8.95</price> <description>Light Belgian waffles covered with an assortment of fresh berries and whipped cream</description> <calories>900</calories> </food> <food> <name>French Toast</name> <price>$4.50</price> <description>Thick slices made from our homemade sourdough bread</description> <calories>600</calories> </food> <food> <name>Homestyle Breakfast</name> <price>$6.95</price> <description>Two eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, and our ever-popular hash browns</description> <calories>950</calories> </food> </breakfast_menu>
XML in the Localization industry
The DTD is the part of an XML document that declares exactly what tags your document will have and how they will be arranged in the document. The XML document itself must then conform to the rules set by the corresponding DTD. The DTD can either be part of the XML document or it can be referenced by the XML document and really be stored in a separate file, possibly even on a different server. Using XML facilities we can:
- Customize style sheets from client’s XML DTD
- Convert from one XML DTD to another
XLIFF, which stands for XML Localization Interchange File Format, enables translators in the localization industry to concentrate on the text to be translated. Likewise, since it’s a standard, manipulating XLIFF files makes localization engineering easier: once you have converters written for your source file formats, you can simply write new tools to deal with XLIFF and not worry about the original file format. It also supports a full localization process by providing tags and attributes for review comments, the translation status of individual strings, and metrics such as word counts of the source sentences.
One of the main problems in localizing files is the complexity of the various file formats. When a file is converted to XLIFF, the structural formatting is extracted and stored in a skeleton file. XLIFF allows many separate tools to work on files. While working on source file formats, it is not easy to have multiple tools work on the same files.
In summary, XLIFF aids localization in a number of ways.
- XLIFF removes the complexities of localizing different types of source files.
- XLIFF provides a common platform for localization tools vendors to write to, thus increasing the number of tools available.
- XLIFF highlights the parts of a file that are important to the localization process.
- XLIFF provides support to the localization process, through its commenting features, support for phases, and metrics.