SDL TMS 2007 SP4: Some Comments from SDL
Posted by Nick Peris on June 2, 2010
Here are some interesting comments from Paul Harrap, Product Manager for TMS at SDL, in reply to my article on SDL TMS 2007 SP4. I’ve also included my own response afterwards.
“(…) I’m very pleased to see we’re getting some coverage in the blogosphere. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write us up and your positive feedback on the product generally and our new SP4 specifically.
I accept that there’s still some work to do in the product with relation to TM maintenance. As your article accurately reflects, the contents of TMs are updated in TMS in very specific places in the workflow- typically after one or two cycles of review – and what content goes into which TM can be carefully controlled. This is very much by design. We see Translation Memory as the crown-jewel of the linguistic assets of the enterprise customer and so contents are tightly regulated by TMS.
However, we have to acknowledge that bad content can creep into TMs over time – there might be an error in review, or some customers might not review translations quite as thoroughly as others. The changes we made in SP4 to allow the import of files directly into TMs is a response to this requirement. The enterprise can now add/replace contents of a TM directly, without reference to a specific translation job or workflow, as an administrator-level function. This can allow people to quickly and painlessly correct known-bad TUs.
We’re considering including the ability to search through, browse and directly edit the TUs in the TMS browser environment in a future release. While I accept that this is a lacking feature, I wouldn’t concur that we should be putting such power in the hands of the vendor or the freelancer. Seeing the TM as a hugely valuable asset for the enterprise, I expect this is the sort of feature and capability that most enterprises would want to keep in-house.
On the integration with SDL MultiTerm, I very much see a distinction at the moment where TMS is a consumer of Terminology and MultiTerm is the owner of it. Over time we will see much tighter integrations between the SDL products, so the lines between TMS and MultiTerm will very much start to blur, and we have plans to introduce workflow capabilities for term lifecycle management.
On the issue of uploads and downloads and working offline, I think a lot of people would very much agree with you. The single largest corporate user of SDL TMS is… SDL! We have dozens of translation offices around the globe, all of whom deal with the upload and download of files to and from TMS servers based in our hosting centre in London on a daily basis. What tends to drive people offline is the featureset available in the desktop tools. SDL Trados Studio, and its predecessors SDL Trados TagEditor and SDLX, are very powerful productivity tools for the translator. Replicating these features in an online translation environment is a monumental task and it’s something we are investigating.”
First of all, I would like to thank Paul for this input. Since the ramp up of Trados Studio over a year ago, SDL have made a sustained effort to listen to their user base. The TMS section proves here that they are keeping with this policy.
On the topic of TM Maintenance, which is very close to my heart, I think the business model Paul is presenting is either slightly outdated or, more likely, is missing on a part of their customer base.
From my experience, the outsourcing model has developed so much during this recession that at least in some cases, big enterprises (i.e. the TMS customers) no longer employ Translation Memory management experts. These positions are filled by technicians employed by the LSPs.
Another point is that while TMS customers use Review routinely, they also cannot afford to review all the content they output. Most of the big players have either implemented or are looking into models which allow them to reduce their review cost for languages where the quality is considered stable. This means that TMs may be updated in TMS with contents which hasn’t been reviewed, and consequently that linguists must regularly inspect the TMs and fix any inconsistencies in legacy TUs to prevent reoccurring errors.
I maintain that this task must be assigned to a linguist, and the best placed to do so is a senior Reviewer. Not all of these are in-house, by far.