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TermWiki Lowers the Barrier to Terminology Management
Posted by Donald A. DePalma on January 14, 2010  in the following blogs: Business Globalization, Best Practices, Technology, Translation and Localization
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CSOFT announced TermWiki, a multilingual terminology management solution based on wiki technology. As a wiki, it is web-based, supports collaboration out of the box, and provides users with a familiar interface for managing a terminology database. The company hopes to overcome traditional objections to systematic term management.

Our research consistently finds that terminology management is one of those practices that everyone knows that they should be doing better, more systematically, or even just doing at all -- but don't (see "The Case for Terminology Management," Feb09). We regularly encounter companies where terminology has jumped the tracks. For example, one manufacturer found that it used 120 variations of a product name, while another employed a different term in a truck repair manual than the component a mechanic could actually order from the parts depot. These cases represent the tip of the iceberg for the absence of formal terminology management in product development, documentation, marketing, and support.

So why don't companies do a better job managing their terminology as part of their intellectual property? In these budget-straining times, a terminologist and supporting technology might be more than companies want to spend. For others, term management has as much appeal as a colonoscopy. In most cases, though, it's the combination of terminology management software's high cost, low levels of usability, and limited ability to integrate the solution that limit demand.

CSOFT, a language service provider (LSP), today announced that it would address many of these concerns with a wiki-based terminology management solution. CSOFT added functions that support terminology development, management, workflows, and the ability to import terms from a variety of sources. To enable collaboration among the various participants in a content management application, TermWiki provides access control, user profile management, and notifications for changes. Recognizing that even good definitions might not be enough in a multilingual term base environment, the product also integrates image and video support to paint the proverbial picture worth a thousand words. The wiki architecture supports the addition of plug-ins by what CSOFT should hope will be an active developer community.

What's not to like? CSOFT still has some work to do on the technology and the business model:
  • On the technology front, CSOFT must figure out a model for sharing information among and between different organizations. This capability will be critical in supply chains, product ecosystems, and other multi-company applications where common terminology benefits both supplier and users. TermWiki also has a few term import and export issues to work out, along with some tweaking of its search function.
  • From a business perspective, CSOFT is still working out the details of how it will sell and support the product. It plans to make TermWiki available as an open-source deliverable in a "generic version," with expectations that it will generate revenue with its services and extensions. Think Red Hat and Sugar CRM -- open-source software complemented by extensive services, consulting, and custom development.
The bottom line: This is a very clever application of technology to a longstanding problem. We're surprised that nobody had come up with this idea before now. TermWiki presents the market with an open-source terminology manager, a web foundation, an extended wiki collaborative model, and specialized services for those who need them. If CSOFT can truly deliver on the open-source promise and create a community of developers and users around TermWiki, it can remove some of the traditional barriers to terminology management and broadly increase usage of this critical function.


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Keywords: Technology strategy, Terminology management, Translation, Translation technologies

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