Paratext 8 brings a powerful new project management feature with a lot of potential. I’m afraid, though, that without taking the necessary time to set the system up properly, many teams won’t ever benefit from it. That would be a shame. So here’s an overview of how it works so that you can better understand and start preparing for the new Project Plan tool in Paratext 8.
Every Bible translation project, no matter how it is organized, has a set of tasks that need to be completed in a certain order in order to make progress. Whether you are the translator and trying to remember what step comes next, or an administrator and trying to assure that your team follows those steps, Paratext 8 can help its users to know what to do and when.
First you must divide the project into stages. Paratext comes with stages one through four as a default, but it is very easy to name them and to add additional stages. Let’s take a four stage model:
- Team review
- External review
- Final revision
These are stages that every book must go through and the number of stages differs between teams and between organizations. You’ll need to decide on these stages together as a team before continuing.
Each of those main stages will contain a number of tasks. Deciding what those tasks should be is where you need to do the bulk of your planning.
Let’s say that for each chapter, your process of drafting involves reading through the TEV and then reading through the UBS Handbook. Your first three tasks are:
- Read through the TEV
- Read through the UBS Handbook
- Draft the text
In practice, these are checkboxes that the translator must check off manually. But Paratext makes it very easy to do this, by providing an “Assignments and Progress” button in the top right corner of the editing window. Clicking on this will open the dialog box and allow the translator to check that stage as complete.
Tasks may be independent or dependent on other tasks. In the above example, the drafting task would be conditional on having first read through the TEV and the UBS Handbook. You can’t check off a dependent task until the prerequisite tasks are also completed. Reading the Handbook and the TEV, however, don’t have to be completed in order, so they are independent tasks.
Most tasks will be set to be completed per chapter, but you can also set tasks that must be done once per book. An example of this might be “Add important Biblical terms to the glossary”. You wouldn’t want to require that after each chapter! Instead, you might choose to assign that task for the Final Revision stage, and set it to take place after the Biblical terms checking is complete for the whole book.
In addition to tasks, Paratext also helps you to work through the maze of inventories and checks that are available. One never knows which of these checks to run and at what stage in the project. At what stage to you start to worry about spelling? When do you work on correcting punctuation? At what point do you work on Biblical terms renderings? You probably don’t want to be verifying the consistency of Biblical terms in the first draft. So now you can tell Paratext to enforce a Biblical terms check at a later stage of the project. Maybe before the external review, you could have Paratext prompt you to work through the Biblical Terms tool and account for your choice of renderings.
Not only does this tool help keep teams consistent in their practices, it also provides a very visual record of progress for the whole team to see what is taking place and when. This will help keep project members consistent in their methods and accountable to each other.
Paratext 8 and Project Plans may get off to a slow start as individual teams try implementing different stages and tasks. But you can be sure that we will continue to help you find your way by sharing success stories in the news section of this site.