Computer Assisted Translation of
AutoCAD Drawings


Steven Marzuola
Houston, Texas


·       Engineering, design, manufacturing, and marketing firms often require translations of AutoCAD drawings into foreign languages.

·       Conventional methods are slow, expensive, inconsistent, and prone to error.

·       CAD-Trans rapidly and efficiently produces translations of AutoCAD drawings.

Conventional translation

·       Normal process for “human” translation is:

<      Open each drawing using AutoCAD.

<      Search for text elements, using pan, zoom.

<      Manually select and edit text elements.

<      Save translated file.


·       Each step requires user intervention, progress tracking.

·       Each translator must have AutoCAD.

·       Difficult to locate text on complex drawings.

·       Low productivity, shortage of existing translators ®  delays in other assignments.

·       Multiple translators ® inconsistent terms, styles.

CAD-Trans strategy:

·       Minimize operator intervention and allow computer to handle more tasks; i.e.:  searching, panning, file handling, job tracking.

·       Use translation memory to store and reuse previously translated sentences, terms, and phrase.

·       Results:  Improved productivity and consistency.

CAD-Trans advantages:

·       Reduces number of qualified translators required to translate large jobs.

·       If minor changes in terminology are needed, a complete new set of drawings can often be produced in hours, not days.

·       Graphic elements are not affected by operator; remain unchanged.

Translation Memory

·       Objective:  Leverage previously translated words and phrases.

·       When new document is begun, “pre-translation” step performs all translation possible using translation databases.

·       Operator translates only sentences and portions not in previous translations.  New translations are sent to database for reuse.

NOT the same as “Machine Translation”!

·       “Machine translation” attempts to produce target text without human intervention.  Technology is improving, but results often stilted.  Usually not suitable for presentation-quality work.

·       “Translation Memory” uses and reuses translations entered by a human translator.

Case Study

·       Engineering and construction contractor, required Spanish drawings as part of project deliverables.

·       In Phase 1:

<      100 drawings translated by hand.

<      Average time:  3 hours per drawing.

·       Phase 2 requirements (estimated):  approximately 1500 drawings to translate

<      Manpower required:  1500 x 3 = 4500 total hours

<      @ 45 hours/week = 100 weeks

Estimate:  Approximately 23 man-months
of full-time translation effort


·       At the client’s request, the translator continued to spend 40 hours per week on a separate assignment.

·       Working part-time, average production beginning mid-February, 2001:
     110 drawings per week.

·       Completion time, all 1500 drawings:
     4 months, single translator, part-time

Other Capabilities:

·       Multi-language drawings, by addition of translated text.

·       Example:  store English, Spanish, and Russian text in same drawing.  AutoCAD operator selects which language to display, print, etc.

Other uses:

·       Can be used for other text conversion tasks.  For example:

·       Company A purchases engineering and drawings from Company B.  Change title block in all drawings from:

<      “John Smith Engineering” to

<      “XYZ Corporation”

·       Technical drawing inventory and management

·       Revise and reuse drawings created for a previous project.  Can rapidly convert:

<      Client name, location, job title, numbers, dates, notes, abbreviations, etc.

·       Bulk revision and correction of

<      product descriptions, part numbers, drawing notes, etc.

·       Convert English / metric dimensions

·       Rapidly change text attributes:  colors, fonts, layers, etc.


·       CAD-Trans rapidly and efficiently produces translations of AutoCAD drawings.

·       Permits terminology corrections across many drawings in project.

·       Allows previously unfeasible translation or conversion projects.

·       Single AutoCAD file can contain multiple language versions of drawing.

For more information:

·       Steven Marzuola

·       Tele:        281-381-9337

·       Email: