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Translation of AutoCAD drawings

AutoCAD is an automated drawing and design system developed by Autodesk. The first version of the system was released back in 1982. The main AutoCAD file format is DWG, which, due to the popularity of AutoCAD, has actually become a 2D design standard. DWS (drawing standards), DWT (drawing template) files are also DWG format versions. To view files, you can use free software provided by AutodeskDWG TrueView.

Translation of drawings directly in CAD

The DWG format is licensed by Autodesk and is a closed format. Specification of the DWG format provided by Autodesk is available only to registered groups of developers approved by Autodesk. The DWG format is supported by many CAD systems, but only indirectly, i.e. data are converted into a different format using the export-import function, which poses a threat of damaging the drawing. Therefore, translation should be carried out in the CAD system in which the drawing was created.

dwgHowever, this method has a number of disadvantages.

1. Drawing files often contain dozens or even hundreds of identical text segments. Editing such files manually in the design system can be very time-consuming. In such a case, you need to use a translation memory system (CAT tools), i.e. databases containing a set of previously translated segments of the text. The use of translation memory systems can speed up the translation of drawings containing repetitions.

2. The use of translation memory allows to ensure consistent terminology, when more than one translator is working on a project. Virtually all modern translation memory systems allow to connect multiple translators to a server-based or in-cloud translation memory simultaneously. When translating directly in AutoCAD, the consistency of terminology is ensured only by using a glossary, which increases the risk of error.

3. Segmentation of translated files and their conversion into a bilingual format in translation memory systems provide additional opportunities to automate the quality assurance process. Comparing source and target segments allows to identify and completely prevent the following errors: errors in numerical data, terminology inconsistency, omissions in translation, different trailing punctuation in the source and target segments, inconsistent translation or different formatting.

Translation of drawings using translation memory systems

None of the translation memory systems supports the DWG format directly. To share data with other applications, the DXF format is used, which is a text file in ASCII (old versions) or UTF-8 (recent versions). The DXF file structure is a sequence of ‘groups,’ each of which occupies two lines. The first line is the group code and the second is the group value. The group code indicates its type, and the value may be a number or a text. Thus, the drawing translation task is to write a simple processing that exports the values of the right groups to the XLIFF format and then export the translated text back to the drawing file.

Desktop publishing of translated drawings

Automation of the process of translating drawings using translation memory systems does not mean that mandatory desktop publishing of the translated drawing can be omitted. The length of the source and target text in different languages is almost never the same, which can affect the way the drawing looks. Checking the translated drawing directly in the CAD program is a mandatory step.

ALBA Translation Agency has extensive experience of working with drawings in AutoCAD and other CAD systems (Bricscad, Kompas-3D, SolidWorks, etc.). Our specialists can organize a work process on each job in the most optimal and therefore cost-effective manner for our customers.