Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews


AuthorIT 4.1
incl. Localization Manager Module


AuthorIT Software Corporation (ASC) was founded in 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand. The flagship product AuthorIT, an integrated single-source documentation solution, was initially released in 1997 and started to sell in the US and Europe in 2000. It incorporates authoring, content management, security and standards control and publishing to print, online Help, and the Web. It also includes modules for project management, and offline authoring. The company's founder and CEO, Paul Trotter is the architect of AuthorIT, and commenced designing and developing AuthorIT on a part-time basis in 1995. He has a background in telecommunications, software development and technical writing predominantly in the documentation consulting arena. Currently AuthorIT has customers in more than 50 countries including larger corporations and institutions from various fields such as Avaya, Bank of America, Coca-Cola Computer Associates, Credit Suisse, Daimler Chrysler AG, Deutsche Bank, HP, Mitsubishi Electric, Motorola, OECD, , Siemens, Standard & Poor’s, University of Houston, US Navy and Air Force, and the Washington Post.

Fig. 1: The Main User Interface of AuthorIT showing a typical Library
Please click on the image for a closer look!


AuthorIT is a complete solution for collaborative single source authoring. It incorporates content management including security and standards control of a large number of coworkers and the ability to publish from the same source to print, online Help, and Web formats. AuthorIT's new Localization Manager Module offers all advantages of the single sourcing environment for a highly efficient and cost effective localization management.
AuthorIT consists of 5 Modules: The name giving main application AuthorIT for the actual authoring, the Administrator for the setup of user and group permissions as well as basic maintenance of AuthorIT's content databases named libraries, the optional Project Manager and Localization Manager modules and the Publisher to generate the various supported output formats.

Fig. 2: Authoring in AuthorIT
You may click on the image for a closer look!

There are three main functionalities of the AuthorIT approach: Authoring, Managing and Publishing.
Authoring is characterized by an enterprise-strength Microsoft SQL Server relational database as the single-source repository for content, which all of your authors and contributors use. You only need to author content once. Changes are applied right at the source, reducing errors and unnecessary repetitions, minimize reviews, and eliminate duplication by providing perfect reuse of already available components. AuthorIT works fully object-oriented, applying the concepts of sub-classing, inheritance, encapsulation, and object reuse to content authoring. This allows you to control the behavior of thousands of similar chunks of content in one place. A fast Full Text Search over the entire library ensures that no information is lost. The use of templates ensures a consistent format and layout in all supported output formats and by the use of variables and placeholders, content can easily be included later or can be linked dynamically. Existing content can be imported in a variety of formats such as: All versions of Microsoft Word, HTML, various Help formats and Framemaker MIF (optional separate import filter!). Finally, exportable and re-importable Offline Libraries ensure a consistent collaboration of many authors even if they are not working on the central database (Figs. 1&2).

Fig. 3: Setting Permissions in AuthorIT
You may click on the image for a closer look!

AuthorIT's management functions allow real collaborative authoring where authors and other contributors work together as a team. All content is stored in a central relational database, which is called a library. The Workgroup and Enterprise versions provide a multi-user environment with dynamic check-in and check-out, security control (permissions), standards control, version control, document release control, and integrated project and task management (Fig. 3).
AuthorIT allows you to publish to print, online Help and Web documents, even very large documents (1000+ pages). Publish into Seven Formats at the Click of a Button: Printed Documentation (Word, RTF, or PDF), WinHelp, Web and Browser based Help, HTML 4.01 + CSS (W3C Validated), XHTML 1.0 + CSS (W3C Validated), Microsoft HTML Help, Sun JavaHelp and Oracle Help for Java. AuthorIT allows viewing, editing, emailing, importing ,and exporting of any object in the single-source database as XML. Full XML Schema and XSLT are provided (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4: Publish to 7 Formats from the same AuthorIT Library

New in version 4.1 is the optional Localization Manager module, which provides an integrated translation and localization management, allowing localization of the source content into any single or double-byte language. It reduces or even eliminates repeated translations by leveraging re-used content directly from the single-source. Extraction of the translatable content out of the target libraries and to the individual translators is achieved using XML, enabling translators to use existing tools, and return it intact and unbroken. In a pilot study with a large US corporate, a word count reduction of 31.5% for new translations was found, resulting in direct saving of more than $US75,000 in external costs for just 1 language. By designing this module, AuthorIT now has the ability to export and import all objects as XML, which can be transferred by custom XSLT's into any format of your choice (Fig. 5&6).

Fig. 5a: The AuthorIT Localization Manager
You may click on the image for a closer look!
Fig. 5b: XML-Export Output for Translation
Please note the auto generated word count at the beginning of each string.
You may click on the image for a closer look!


Editions & Prices:

Desktop: This edition is recommended for individuals who work alone. Support for local JET database. The Desktop Edition includes all features except variables, command line publishing, security control, version control, document release control, dynamic check-in check-out, and XML. It does not support the Project Manager, Offline Authoring, or Localization Manager modules. Documentation and Media can be purchased in addition to AuthorIT licenses, if required.- US$/€399.00.

Workgroup: This edition is recommended for teams of 2 up to 5 authors and contributors. Also available as a single license so that individual authors can have access to the additional features of Workgroup. Support for local JET database. Multi-user environment with security control, version control, document release control, and dynamic check-in and check-out. Supports Project and Task Manager and Offline Authoring modules. Does not support XML functions or the Localization Manager module. Licenses for AuthorIT Workgroup Edition must be purchased for each intended user. Documentation and media can be purchased in addition to AuthorIT licenses, if required. - US$/€599.00. Volume pricing available.

Enterprise: This edition is recommended for teams of 5+ authors and contributors. Support for SQL Server 7/2000/2003, MSDE, and local JET databases. Multi-user environment with security control, version control, document release control and dynamic check-in and check-out, and XML. Supports the Project and Task Manager, Offline Authoring and Localization Manager Modules. AuthorIT Enterprise Edition licenses are available as Fixed or Floating. They are defined as follows: Fixed: The license may be installed on one computer and access any number of library databases. US$/€799.00, Volume pricing available.
Floating: The license may be installed on any number of computers, but only one concurrent connection to a library database is allowed per license. US$/€1,999.00, Volume pricing available.
You may have any combination of Fixed or Floating licenses to meet your requirements. Documentation and media can be purchased in addition to AuthorIT licenses, if required.

AuthorIT MIF Import Filter. US$/€249.00
AuthorIT V1 Offline Authoring Module - for more details refer to web site
AuthorIT V1 Project Manager Module - for more details refer to web site

Fig. 6: Library Compare within the Localization Manager Module of AuthorIT
You may click on the image for a closer look!

Usage & Evaluation

AuthorIT was ready to use after a smooth and painless installation. A great interactive Beginner's Tutorial, which will take you approx. 45 minutes, gently introduces you to the unbelievably many functions of this Software. The generous supply of great Manuals and User Guides in print as well as in HTML-Help format always provide competent and well organized reference and documentation.
After setting up your library using the Administrator, AuthorIT offers an easy yet powerful Authoring Interface which resembles a Word Processor for easier adaptation (Fig. 2). Within this concise graphical interface, you can design text and media building blocks in the twinkling of an eye and arrange them by simple Drag & Drop. Even within the largest projects you never lose track as you are accompanied by an automated index creation and the generation of a table of content as well as a media catalog. The building blocks of your new "Book" (see Figs.1& 2) can be subject to any number of style and layout Templates which can easily be modified thus changing consistently the looks of your whole Book. The organization of your Book as well as its elements can themselves be defined as new building blocks for later reuse in other projects. Finally, elaborate search functionality point you even in large libraries fast and safe to any previously established block of content. When you are done authoring, it is just a click of a button to create an output in any of the seven currently supported formats or all of them simultaneously (Fig. 4).
Workgroups and enterprises profit from AuthorIT's fantastic User and Permission Management (Fig. 3) featuring real-time dynamic check-in and check-out as well as Content and Task Management. These are the foundations of a real collaborative authoring system which works Online as well as Offline. A minor shortcoming is the lack of an automated inheritance or passing-over of permissions and release states to new libraries. However, as most enterprises work with only one large library, this is only a topic for small workgroups. AuthorIT will all the same include such functionalities in a later version to facilitate the administration of multiple libraries.

The new Localization Manager (LM) is bound to become a money spinner as it substantially reduces translation investments Figs. 5&6). Furthermore, it elegantly complements the advantages of AuthorIT's single-sourcing approach and gives them an extra spin into the realm of localization. Apart from the localization of templates, formats and layouts, AuthorIT is not required to localize the central database. I had the chance to test the beta release of this new module. The release version should be available by the time this article will be published.
After a highly intuitive graphical setup of a Translation Job, you can use several include and exclude steps to ensure that only translatable strings are selected. Each job is exported into one valid XML file which includes an auto generated initial word count for fast reference (see Fig. 5b). You can easily transfer these files by Email to your translators right from within the LM. The files are compressed using an internal ZIP procedure and passed to Microsoft Outlook. The current lack of support of any MAPI Email-Client and the inclusion of some strange glyphs into the body of the transmitted Emails is a first minor drawback of the LM. The translator can use any translation Software supporting the XML format. Up to now, AuthorIT only offers a pre-arranged Template-File for the TRADOS TagEditor but already announced the upcoming support of SDLX and DejaVu and other translation memory tools at a later time. Up to now, the re-import of the translated XML file is done from within the directory of your localized library without a confirmation dialog, which makes it very easy to re-import the un translated file if you forgot to overwrite the file in the directory of your localized library with the file you received from your translator. It is currently also not possible to re import partial translations in more than one step without creating a new translation job for each part. I am, however, confident, that AuthorIT will fix and improve those small flaws and any other users might find either before the official release or soon after. AuthorIT established a active user group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/authorit-users which will also deal with problems using the new LM module.

In conclusion, AuthorIT's new Localization Manager makes a good thing even better and increases the value of the Single-Sourcing advantages dramatically. In addition, AuthorIT will for sure become an interesting solution for companies, institutions and workgroups which are involved in localization and did not yet pay attention to Single-Sourcing and one of its best players.

System Requirements:
Windows 98, NT 4.0, 2000, or XP, or Windows Server 2003. Windows 2000 or XP recommended, Pentium 500 processor or better. 64Mb RAM; 128 Mb or higher recommended. Standard VGA monitor; SVGA recommended.
Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device. Microsoft Word 97 SR2, Word 2000, or Word XP, or Word 2003.

Company Information:
AuthorIT Software Corporation, PO Box 300-273, Albany, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND; phone: +64 (9) 915 5070, Fax: +64 (9) 915 5071; Email: info@author-it.com , URL: http://www.author-it.com

AuthorIT does not have any direct competitors offering the same amount of options. Only in the area of Help Documentation, there are a few competitors.

  • RoboHelp: http://www.ehelp.com/ Help from Word and FrameMaker
  • WebWorks: http://www.webworks.com/ Based on Authoring in MS Word and FrameMaker. Output to XML, HTML and various Help Formats
  • HyperText Studio: http://www.olsonsoft.com/ Source: WYSIWYG HTML Editor to HTML, Help, Print
  • mif2go: http://www.omsys.com/ uses FrameMaker to produce print documentation, Web pages, XML, HTML Help, JavaHelp, WinHelp, and Word review copies on demand from the same source files.
  • ComponentOne Doc-To-Help: http://www.componentone.com/ Help Authoring tool Microsoft Word - Output to printed documentation as well as various Help formats.


Dr. Thomas Wassmer, fax: +49 (6204) 9868263, e-mail: tom at infotom.com

Translation & Localization