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How to Translate AutoCAD drawings with Unicode Characters using Trados or other CAT tool

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Describes 3 methods on how to translate AutoCAD drawings with Unicode Characters. Professional translators are used to work with Translation Memory software packages that help them to re-use repeated phrases, and check words in specialized glossaries, but AutoCAD doesn't have this capability itself.


Translating AutoCAD drawings is not an easy task, and even more if your source or target languages are Unicode encoded like Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, etc.

Option #1 - If you decide to use AutoCAD itself, you may end up frustrated using the MTEDIT command and without the ability to use your translation memory software (Trados, SDLX, Wordfast, etc.).

Option #2 - You may want to open the DXF file directly with a text editor. The problem begins with the encoding used by different versions of AutoCAD, some of them use UTF-8 encoding, others don't. A good tool to open Unicode text files is BabelPad (freeware); MS Word also handles Unicode.

Then, you need to manually edit the DXF file (Not the DWG) with MS Word or BabelPad like this:

1. Search the acdbMtext word

2. Find the next "  1" (two spaces and number 1)

3. Find the text just below the " 1" tag.

4. Translate the text

5. Repeat the process from step 1

6. Save a copy of your DXF and test it on AutoCAD using the same encoding as the original DXF file

Of course, you won't be able to take advantage of your TMs or glossaries this way, unless you mark everything as "Non-Translatable" in MS Word and mark only the text found as "Translatable" (For example: WordFast handles the "tw4winExternal" and "Translatable" styles in MS word.)

If that wasn't enough trouble, you may find some Unicode characters encoded like this: \U+05D4

This is a Hexadecimal representation that AutoCAD uses depending on the version that you use. If you encounter this encoding you won't be able to translate the drawing, you would need to use Option #1 or Option #3, (unless you do the conversion to decimal numbers and use the Alt+00000 key combination to render the Unicode characters).

Also you may find some AutoCAD formatting characters like this in your DXF file:


The actual text from this code is just: \U+89D2\U+5EA6\U+FF1A

Option #3 – Use a commercial software tool

You may want to try these software tools that do the hard work for you:

DwgTextTranslator ($795 USD)

TranslateCAD ($29 USD)



Published - October 2008

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