A day in the life of a localisation engineer

Dave Williams has been at Capita TI since 2015. He began his time here as a Project Manager, and has since turned his hand to file engineering. We hear from Dave about what spurred on this change, and what he does on a day-to-day basis at Capita TI.

What exactly is file engineering?

When I tell someone that I’m a File Engineer, I normally get a puzzled look and am asked “what is that!?”

Most assume that with ‘engineer’ in the title; I use metal lathes, CNC machines and can build a car engine. Well, this job isn’t actually that far off! I use CAT tools and software to ‘fabricate’ and ‘manipulate’ files from clients to make them translation-ready.

The basic procedure is to process the file from the client, whether that be an InDesign file, Word file or website XML using CAT (Computer Aided Translation) software. We use two main CAT tools; Trados and our latest in-house developed software. Both CAT tools will process the files and output a translation friendly file type. This will also give a word analysis to build a quotation for translation costs.

Once the CAT files have been translated and proofread, File Engineering will then post-process these files to output a fully translated file in the exact same file type and layout as the file received from the client. The translation memories are then updated with all the translated content from these files for future translation projects.

What type of projects do you handle?

The CAT tools only accept certain file types, but these are varied and most are generally accepted. If a file received is a non-accepted file type, this is where the engineering comes in. The file is filtered and manipulated into an acceptable format for the CAT software.

How is file engineering time estimated in a quote?

The majority of projects require a short amount of file engineering time and this is absorbed into the ‘overhead’ costs. Some projects will be quite large and require hours, maybe even days of file engineering time. This is usually identified at the early stages and recommended that this large amount of time be chargeable to the client.

When do you get involved in a project?

File engineers are usually involved in most projects at the beginning to help with analysing and quoting for any desktop publishing (DTP).

DTP is where we use specialist suppliers to format the translated files to replicate the source layout and format. This is usually done for company literature, marketing and informative brochures and leaflets. Our latest CAT software is an all-encompassing, project handling system that enables the translation process to be carried out automatically, with little input from File Engineers and Project Managers.

What activities are included?

Tasks can be endless, but here are a few examples:

What are the main difficulties you face on a daily basis?

The main issues faced by a File Engineer are unusual file types, creating software filters and settings to best extract translatable content.

How can costs be saved for file engineering?

File engineering helps to evaluate and test files to ensure the most efficient process and output for translated documents to save both time and costs for our clients.

We advise our clients that the better the source files are, the less time will be needed to manipulate the files for translation. This is where the real costs can be saved.

We refer to this as simplified technical English, and all this really means is keep your sentences short and sweet, and make sure source formatting is as simple as possible.

If you have any questions about file engineering, or want to understand more about how translation tools can help to save you time and money, contact Capita TI today using the form below.


Dave joined Capita TI as a Project Manager and has since moved to the File Engineering department, helping to create translation friendly files.

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