One Document, Many Language Variants: How to do it in Salesforce
Kimmo Salmela · July 03, 2018 · 5 mins
Do you want to produce automatically Salesforce customer documents in different language versions in Salesforce – even ones with elaborate designs?
In this article, we explain how you can add multi–language support to Salesforce documents with the Documill Dynamo app. The app’s template builder is accessed with a browser, so it supports any operating system, including Windows and Mac, even Android.
Versatile options for a variety of use cases
As with any document automation app, the core function of Documill Dynamo is to create a bespoke document by fetching automatically data and content (like images) from Salesforce to dynamic fields in the text on a document template. When it comes to creating bilingual or multilingual document translations on templates, multiple methods are available, as described below.
Figure 1. Translation from an English original to Finnish with Documill Dynamo.
1. Documill Dynamo’s own translation matrix: many language versions using one template
Documill Dynamo’s template designer has an inbuilt translation matrix that allows you to quickly create a new language version of an existing document with an identical layout. It is all quite simple: just paint a text section in the document, then click “Add translation”, open the matrix and write the translation equivalent there in a column of its own. Then repeat for the next section.
Figure 2. Accessing the translation matrix in Documill Dynamo’s template builder.
The maximum length of a text entry is one paragraph. No dynamic fields are to be included, since the translations of these come from Salesforce together with the actual dynamic content. So if a text section includes dynamic fields, be careful to leave these out and split the text around them into separate chunks, no matter how short.
Technically, the text in the template’s original language remains as the default content, though a key term is automatically generated (also shown in the matrix) to be used as an anchor point in Dynamo’s own data processing. You can edit also the key terms; just remember to keep them short to ensure quick processing.
Figure 3. Translation matrix for our example document with the keys (left), original text in English (middle) and translation in Finnish (right). Note that three alternative texts exist for different customer types (lines 2-4) with selection based on a workflow rule.
With just one template as the source file, content updates and template maintenance become easy with the matrix.
You can allow a user to select the language of a document or automate the choice upon generation, based on any Salesforce field value. The language of the user is the default value here (the language of the respondent company would have been an even more natural choice, but Salesforce does not have such a field as a default). The choice is really down to your Salesforce data model.
2. Longer texts with clause library
What about those longer standard texts: terms and conditions, company introductions, cover letters and so forth?
The translation matrix of Documill Dynamo has its limitation in text length. However, the app has a clause library that comes in handy when dealing with bigger chunks of translated content. The clauses are text sections that can span one or more, even pages in a document, stored in Salesforce. Each language variant of a given piece of text can be saved as a clause of its own and linked to the template based on a workflow rule.
By using clauses, you can also effectively re-use content between documents. A slight downside with them, compared with the use of the matrix, is that you must remember to update each clause separately when making updates.
Figure 4. Clause library and individual clause (inset) in Salesforce.
3. Attachments as separate documents
But often documents have parts attached that rather make complete, related documents, not just mere text sections. These attachments tend to be best produced and maintained as separate documents in Salesforce, not least because they may be linked to several different templates, in which case managing just one source file can save a lot of work and help keep things simple.
Documill Dynamo gives you two options with each attachment: to create it as an HTML file that supports dynamic data fields or just a static pdf. In either case, the documents make up autonomous entities with their own layout design, file names and versioning.
Just like the clauses, you can link the attachments to the main document via a Documill Dynamo workflow rule. But you can also allow users to select the appropriate ones for each customer by ticking a box in a popup window.
Figure 5. Form to select an attachment to document in Salesforce.
4. Combination of all above
To wrap it up, Documill Dynamo’s translation matrix alone allows you to produce complete high-quality documents in multiple languages. However, other methods can work even better in certain sections. Below, you can see the methods used in our example document (this time there was no need to use clauses):
- Documill Dynamo matrix translation (red)
- automatically translated Salesforce field data (green)
- additional documents inserted as appendices (blue).
Figure 6. Translation using translation matrix, attachment and Salesforce data.
5. Or still consider going old school?
But what about the old-school solution: just having each version on a template of its own? The problem here is, you are likely to end up spending more time creating your documents – and then some keeping them up to date, even when just adding one image or word.
Ok, this solution might – just might – be a little more feasible in that rare case when each language version of the document has a different design and structure. But even then, it would pay to explore the more advanced features of a modern app like Documill Dynamo not covered here. Usually they will still make things quicker and definitely easier to manage in the long run.
See it for yourself
Would you like to see in practice how Dynamo works? Just book a demo or download the application directly from the Salesforce AppExchange.
Kimmo Salmela is a communications manager at Documill. Earlier on, he worked in several industry and solution marketing and communication positions at Nokia. Now Kimmo focuses on online collaboration technologies and their future prospects for businesses.
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