Recently, a client asked me if I would be willing to perform the localization process on a course I had been working on for them using Adobe Captivate 8. Given that I had never been involved with this type of process, I said “of course!”
I had no idea what I was signing up to do or the challenges it presented. I don’t think I even realized how many things the localization process touched during the conversion.
This course was created in English and being translated into Spanish. The source material was built in Adobe Captivate 8.
I was NOT involved with the communication between my client and the localization vendor. I simply received direction and files from my client on what to build with the components they provided. I was solely wearing my Developer hat for this project.
What is Localization?
Localization is the process of taking content created in one language and converting it into another language or multiple languages. In this case, it was English to Spanish.
What Localization Components Was I Provided?
The course has four main components.
- Module 1
- Module 2
The course also included three PDF documents and seven videos (with closed captioning).
The localization company provided a large amount of audio files representing two primary narrators and several side characters that had one-bit parts throughout the course. I also received mapped scripts that contained file names, an English script, and the corresponding Spanish script. Along with this, I received caption exports from Captivate that contained the English caption and the Spanish caption content.
What Went Right That Could Have Been Overly Complicated?
The course was built exclusively within Adobe Captivate. There was no underlying PowerPoint file that was originally used to build the course.
If this had occurred, there would have been very little caption data within Captivate. This would have complicated the translation process because we would have had to have someone make the changes to the source PowerPoint files.
Something Else that Went Really Well
The localization company did a really good job mapping the audio file names to the two versions of the script.
For each script, they sent me Word document with a three-column table.
- Column 1 had the new file name.
- Column 2 had the English version of the script
- Column 3 had the Spanish version of the script
This made it very easy to identify which files mapped to which screens and I would recommend this process to anyone needing to go through this process. I think I completed a single section in about 45 minutes. So, for the two large sections, it took just about two hours to replace most of the audio recordings.
Two Big Lessons Learned
I Underestimated How Much Localization Affects the Course
After solving the base localization – audio and scripts – My client asked me about the conversion of the three PDFs and the closed captioning in the videos. This caught me off guard because I had not considered these items in the translation process.
I also did not originally consider the translation of ALL the text content on the screens. I had assumed it meant that we would simply transcribe just the transcription content for the audio, and not all the content on all the screens, including button text.
In Captivate, Localization Automation Has Its Limitations
There are certain requirement for using the Adobe Captivate Caption import and export feature.
Here is how it is supposed to work:
- Export your captions to an MS Word file. This file has multiple columns. One column is for the translated content. That’s what you change in the file.
- After you add your translated content, you import that MS Word file back into the Captivate file.
- All your captions update to the new, translated content.
Sounds simple enough. However, there are caveats of which you need to be aware.
- The import and export need to occur within the SAME Captivate file and the SAME MS Word document.
- Don’t change file names of the Word document or the Captivate project in the middle of the process. This creates errors when you attempt to import the caption files back into the project.
- You can’t add or remove captions between the import and export of the MS Word file. If you do, you will have captions that are or are not in the Word file. This will totally “hose up” your import process and captions will fill into incorrect locations. For example, you might get a paragraph of text inside the text label of a button. This will throw off all captions that come after that mishap because they are out of alignment in the table within the import document.
- Depending on the length of the Captivate file and the quantity of caption text, it can take a while for the import and export to occur. For my course, it took 20 minutes for the export and about 20 minutes for the import. Add time to review the exported file. Each round of this took about an hour.
- Formatting may get affected during the importing process. Build time into your plan for reviewing formatting. I saw left/right/center alignment issues and unexpected bullet points in text.
Localization Files Must Be the Same
My client gave the localization company a previous version of the Captivate files to use for localization. I was unaware that this was an issue.
I copied my most current version of the Captivate files and renamed them to identify them as the Spanish versions. When I attempted to import the caption files, it took a while to process and the message that came up stated that no captions had been imported.
It took several attempts to figure out that the exported caption files had to come from the Captivate files I had on my hard drive. The localization company obviously was not aware of this requirement either.
Thankfully, I was able to copy the translated column from their file and paste it into the exported caption file I had from my files. This seemed to work without a problem.
Don’t Change Content between the Export and Import
This was the item that created the largest challenge for me. I was asked by the client to add some instructions for playing the videos. We also altered how the videos were handled and there were some labels in the Captivate file that identified the names of the people in the videos. We opted to play the videos externally to the course in a separate browser window and player. Therefore, we needed to add the titles to the video. At the same time, I removed them from the Captivate file.
Now, the translated file and the Captivate files were out of synch. It took me a bit to realize this disconnect. I think I lost about four hours importing and exporting the captions to identify where they were out of synch. Then, I needed to go into the export file and add or remove rows in the table to resynch them together. Eventually, I was able to get this correct, but it was time-consuming.
Spanish Text is Longer than English Text
I did not realize how much longer Spanish text was, as compared to English text. Even this simple example demonstrates how your text boxes will be affected by this translation.
For example, you can see that the Spanish translation of this simple statement is longer than the English version. If this was in a text box, you would need to resize the text box.
Pepe’s house is big.
La casa de pepe es grande.
After the import process was completed, I needed to look at every slide and review the caption boxes. Many times, I needed to adjust the boxes to handle the longer text. Sometimes, this did affect the layout of the slide or required me to alter the font size to accommodate this change.
Formatting was Not Always Correct
There may be a way to adjust for this, but I was not aware of it. I found that many times, the Spanish text would come in center or right justified, when it was supposed to be left justified. I also found that some things would come in as a bulleted item, when it was not supposed to be. These were easy to fix, but were a time-consuming task.
The more complex task that I actually did not know how to deal with was when some of the button text came in, it was either bulleted or it had left justification on it. The buttons in this project did not seem to have the options to alter this type formatting. Short of recreating the buttons from scratch (not something I wanted to do), I did not have a good solution for this. At the time of this blog, this is an unresolved issue.
Adobe Captivate and Localization In Summary
If you intend to perform a localization update on any of your courses you created in Captivate, pay attention to these things to save yourself some headaches and time.
- Understand the scope of what will be affected by the localization process, so you are prepared.
- Use the same Captivate files to export your captions, perform the translations.
- Don’t change file names during the process.
- Don’t alter your Captivate files by adding or removing captions during the process. Your import will be out of synch with the project file
- Plan for more time than you think it will take. The importing and exporting process can be time consuming…but it is faster than doing it by hand.
Have you had to perform this localization task on any of your projects? Did you experience similar challenges or did you have different challenges? Please share with the community, so we may all learn from it.