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It’ll be an XML world

It'll be an XML world (medical translation)Or so Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, proclaimed back in March of 2001. Eight years later, we're still waiting.

Sure, XML has made some inroads. For instance, as of late 2005, FDA requires that all US-marketed package inserts be submitted in XML format. So far, the goal for most organizations was solely to implement systems and/or processes to achieve compliance with Structured Product Labeling. By and large, though, drug and device companies are still publishing (and thus translating) content in unstructured formats.

This is a shame, for both manufacturers and translation companies. Use of XML would offer the opportunity to reduce turnaround times through reduced analysis time and a generally simpler process flow (fewer steps, fewer technical issues). It would allow translators to focus on linguistic work without the distraction of desktop publishing tasks (focus on core competency).

But – and this is one of the reason why XML has not been more widely adopted – it would also require a retooling and relearning of teams, both on the client and on the supplier side. Some processes would need to be updated or reworked from scratch, i.e., how do authors and linguists work with out-of-sequence text elements?

So given all of these challenges the question is: Will it be an XML world?


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2 Comments:

  1. Timothy Rosa said...
    I agree with your overall comments about the benefits of XML as well as the drawbacks from a systems approach. A very similar argument ("pro" and "con") was made with the advent of SGML many years ago. As is often the case, there were competing standards and the tools vendors converged and users were left hanging.

    The requirement of the FDA to use an XML backbone changed the landscape in the US for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. But, there is no similar mandate in other industries.

    Bottom line: XML is here to stay, but it's unclear where it will actually live.

    P.S. Your third paragraph is missing a word. It should read "This is a shame..."
    ForeignExchange Translations said...
    Thanks for pointing out the typo, Timothy :-)

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