Localization, Localisation

Practical and concise answers to common questions in G11N, I18N and L10N

Archive for the ‘Beginner’s Guide’ Category

Demystifying SEO in Localisation

Posted by Nick Peris on August 5, 2013

Ground-level SEO

The topic of Search Engine Optimisation is often subject to over-complication.

This may be the result of people trying to show off their expertise, or the requirement of business models based on selling SEO services or courses. Whatever the case is, this gets in the way of general understanding and prevents many website owners from making the right choices.

The truth is that it doesn’t have to be complicated: SEO is just a way to ensure that a website reaches its audience.

Of course this includes several methodologies, theories, and subdisciplines that a lot of very smart people have built careers upon. And let’s not forget the moving goal posts that are the periodic updates to the Google search algorithms, deployed an effort to improve search result accuracy as well as derived revenues. But do we need to understand all of this thoroughly before we can set up an SEO Localisation strategy? No. And do we need SEO gurus to make localised websites visible? Absolutely not!

A Few Definitions

First let’s get some clarity and context around the acronyms.

SEO: Search Engine Optimisation. Activities aiming to improve the way your website ranks among the organic results (meaning paid for, or “sponsored”) in a search engine.
SEM: Search Engine Marketing. Sometimes used as a synonym to SEO, it usually includes SEO plus other approaches such as pay-per-click campaigns, with consist in getting websites listed in the sponsored links area of the Search Engine Results Page in exchange for a fee paid to the Search Engine provider every time that link is clicked.
Dark SEO or Black Hat SEO: a semi-humoristic way to describe methods to achieve SEO by trying to outsmart the system. This may include link farming, comment spamming, keywords stuffing and other activities ranging from tedious to sinister.
MSEO: Multilingual SEO, but also Mobile SEO. SEO for translated websites in the first case and for Search results on Mobile devices specifically in the second.
ISEO: International SEO, like Multilingual SEO.
LSEO: Not Localization SEO, or Localized SEO. This is Local SEO and it has less to do with translation, more with location. LSEO tries to ensure that if you search for the word “butcher”, you find the craft butcher closest to your home, rather than the butcher whose website gets the most traffic, or which mentions the keyword “butcher” the most. This is as much a matter for Search algorithm programmers as it is for website owners.
SMO: Social Media Optimization aims to promote visibility on Social Media Networks such as Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
VSEO: Video SEO is interested in the visibility of your video content, for example when users put related searches in YouTube, Vimeo etc.

Some Words of Warning

I already mentioned Black Hat SEO above. In my opinion it is best to stay well away from this. Results are uncertain and the risks simply too high. For every would-be SEO Dark Knight, Google has an army of engineers and bots ready to slam the gavel.
They actively seek and demote methodologies and sometimes individual websites which attempt to artificially improve their page ranking. Once demoted, there is no appeal process!

In this realm, SEO is very similar to doping in cycling: in the short-term there is potentially a lot to gain, at least in terms of ranking. But your business may never recover once a search engine operator such as Google black lists it.

Localising SEO

SEO Localisation strategy

SEO Localisation strategy

One aspect of SEO that is totally legitimate yet often ignored or at least not given enough attention, is Localisation. Much like in the area of software developement, localisation often remains an after-thought in the website developement cycle.

There is a lot to gain in following the two simple guidelines:

  1. Develop your website with Internationalisation in mind
  2. Translate your website with SEO in mind

SEO agencies sometimes offer SEO Localisation services as part of a package. In my opinion they’re not the right supplier for it. Language Service Providers (LSPs) offer MSEO or ISEO and here is why they’re the ones you should rely on:

  • In-country staff: your LSP has professional linguists based in each of your “target” country. If you have an established relationship with your LSP, these linguists are familiar both with your content and your target audience. In fact, they quite possibly are a part of your target audience and therefor best placed to improve your local message.
  • SEO qualification: among this same staff, your LSP most likely has linguists who specialise in SEO Localisation as part of a range of targeted skills.
  • Localising keywords: there is more to this than just translation. In some ways it is more a keen to Transcreation, which is another skills on offer by LSPs and not SEO agencies. You want localised keywords which are the terms most likely to be put in a search related to your website by someone in the corresponding location. This doesn’t mean re-doing the SEO research but it certainly isn’t a simple translation of your source keywords either.
  • Testing keywords: your LSP should be able to estimate the performance of translated keywords, perhaps give you several options and check the Search engines most commonly use in-country. Famously, the Google search results are less relevant for a Chinese audience because it isn’t used as much as Baidu in China. You will also have to monitor keywords performance, and perhaps refresh their localisation periodically. For example new technologies tend to appear in countries where the business language is English. Early adopters are also more commonly familiar with English. Consequently when a technology is very new, people around the world are more likely to search using its English name. As it becomes more prevalent, the translated name will become more common and will be used in more and more searches.
  • Using localised keywords: keywords are great but if you paste them into a metadata field and forget about them, they are not going to serve you well. These keywords have to be used in the translated content on your website. Professional translators have Terminology management technology which is perfect for this. Every time a keyword in detected in the source text, the CAT tool can suggest one or more SEO tested translations and help the translator use the keywords consistently.
  • Other SEO activities: yes there is more to SEO than just keywords. LSPs big or small, have had time to develop sophisticated SEM offerings. Check with your existing translation partner or find one which offers a complete Localised SEM range of services you need.
  • Value: last but not least, LSPs are likely to offer these services for better prices than specialised SEO agencies, who while they have the SEO expertise, do not have the technology or localisation know-how to provide Localised SEO effectively.

Related articles

Posted in Beginner's Guide, Internationalization, SEO Localization | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Wordfast Pro 3.1: Solid Contender

Posted by Nick Peris on April 16, 2013

The Wordfast Editor

Wordfast 3.1.5

The translators network ProZ.com recently published an article about the use of CAT tools in the industry. It was based on a survey they ran within their community and which received over 3,000 responses.

Apart from the perennial dominance of Trados which about 75% use in some shape or form, 3 facts caught my attention.

First, the translators’ preference: while 43% said Trados is the CAT tool they use the most, only 36% cited it as their favourite tool. Compared to this Wordfast, second in line in this survey, showed the same proportion of primary users and supporters. memoQ seems even more popular with substantially more people citing it as their favourite than actually use it as their primary tool.

The second point was the real deciding factor in the choice of CAT tool: the main driver, listed by over 45% of respondents was customer requirements, with market research second at about 36%. Pricing was at the bottom of the list.

It seems fair to conclude already that translators often use the CAT tool they have to, rather than the CAT tool they choose to. There are several reasons for this:

  • Translators usually work with handoffs or translation kits which have been prepared for them by their clients. When they don’t start from the raw source documents, they have a more limited choice in the translation technology.
  • They also quite commonly download packages from Translation Management Systems, and are tied into the CAT tools supported by the workflow.
  • Finally in some cases they are forced by business requirements to the technology of the LSP they are affiliated to.

The third and last point I took away from reading the ProZ.com post was that Wordfast and memoQ are the most common CAT tools after Trados. We have talked about Trados many times in these pages, and have covered memoQ on several occasions as well. However Wordfast which is also in the Top 3 of our own never-ending Poll in the right sidebar, was never yet covered on Localization, Localisation.

This article will begin to remedy that.

EditionsWordfast 3

There are 4 separate versions in the Wordfast offering:

  1. Wordfast Anywhere: a web-based CAT tools with Translation Memory, Glossary and Machine Translation functionality. It is available free-of-charge for translators.
  2. Wordfast Classic: a well-established, Microsoft Word-based translation tool. For readers more familiar with Trados, this is the equivalent to using Workbench in Word instead of translating in TagEditor.
  3. Wordfast Server: an enterprise Translation Memory server compatible with the other 3 Wordfast applications.
  4. Wordfast Pro: the professional, full-featured CAT tool, flagship of the Wordfast family. One of its main attributes is the extensive platform compatibility: it supports Mac OS and Linux as well as the Windows.

Wordfast Pro is the application I will talk about in the rest of this post.

Wordfast Install Wizard - Component Selection

Installation

The latest version of Wordfast Pro (3.1.5 at the time of writing) is available for download from their website. The trial version has no feature limitation other than a 500 Translation Units cap in the TM.

The installation itself is very fast and requires minimal user input. There is one screen in the wizard which lets you select optional components like the Aligner or PDF Support and choose the Hunspell spell checker languages to install. Wordfast can also use the Microsoft Office spell checker dictionaries if they are installed.

On my Windows system, the whole installation process took about 2 minutes.

Getting started

Once that’s done, you can immediately get started with your first translation by following these steps:

  1. Create a Project (File – Create Project…)
  2. Set the source and target language (only 1 language pair per Project)Wordfast Preferences - Create TM
  3. Click OK
  4. The Preferences dialog opens
  5. Under General – Translation Memory – TM List
  6. Click Create TM
  7. Enter a location, file name, language pair and click OK
  8. To add a Glossary, go to General – Terminology – Glossary List
  9. Click Create Glossary
  10. Enter a location, file name, language pair and click OK
  11. In the Active column of the TM and Glossary lists, select the TM or TM’s to use. The language pair of the TM and Glossary must match those of the Project.
  12. If you have multiple Active TM’s and/or Glossary set the order of priority in the corresponding Priority tableWordfast Preferences - Glossary Language Match
  13. When ready, click OK to close the Preferences dialog. You can access and edit these options and others (see details later in this article) at any point by clicking Edit – Preferences
  14. Open the document to translate by pressing CTRL + O and browsing to its location.
  15. The document is immediately converted to a bilingual format (.txml) and displayed in a familiar segmented, 2-columns table

You are now ready to start translating. Type your translations in the target column for each of the segments. If your TM already contains matches, the best way to proceed is to use the Translate until Fuzzy button (CTRL + Alt + F) to move from segment to segment.

Wordfast - Translate Until Fuzzy

With the translation completed, save your Project (CTRL + S) and generate your translated file (CTRL + ALT + S).

To add your translations to the primary TM, select Commit all segments to TM (CTRL + ALT + END) from the Translation Memory menu.

Advanced Options

Wordfast offers a wide choice of features to enhance translators productivity and improve translation quality and consistency.

Wordfast - Filtered Preferences

Most of these options can be accessed by clicking one of the icons in the Tool bar and can be configured from the Preferences dialog (Edit > Preferences). This dialog box and some of its views have a very practical filter text box which lets you hide any feature setting you are not currently interested in.

For example, to see the quality control settings, simply type Transcheck in the type filter text field and press Enter. All other Preferences will be hidden from view and you will be able to access the Transcheck options without having browse to them (see Screencap).

Some of the most useful UI options available are the configurable keyboard shortcuts found under General > Keys. The optional software Automatic updates are also a neat, non-intrusive way of making those available.

But the real powerful stuff can be found in the Translation folder of the Preferences:

  1. Auto-propagation copies your new translation to any duplicates within the project. This can be fine-tuned to apply only to certain segment types.
  2. Auto-suggest, not to be confused with the previous feature, works much like predictive text in mobile phones. Some like to use it, some don’t. Of course it can be switched on or off.
  3. Filters list all supported file types. File filters can be duplicated to contain variations of their settings. This works fine, but the way to add support for new file types is not as easy as in other systems.

    Wordfast - Auto-propagation

    Auto-propagation settings

  4. Machine Translation is one of the highlights. Wordfast can be connected to an existing Google Translate account, Microsoft Translate account, to Worldlingo or to all at once. MT can then be used to provide suggestions when no TM match is found.
  5. Terminology supports sequencing, blacklists and even automatic fuzzy term recognition. The supported Glossary formats are Tab-delimited (.txt) and TBX.
  6. Transcheck is Wordfast’s automatic quality control tool. It comes with an array of options shown in the screencap above.
  7. Translation Memories also has a vast amount of settings relating to Sequencing Priority, Penalties, TM Update behaviors etc. By default Wordfast does not pre-populate fuzzy matches, but it can be configured to by editing the minimum threshold. Wordfast TM’s can be exported to a simple txt format or to TMX.
Wordfast - Auto-suggest
Auto-suggest settings

Overall the features available and the amount of flexibility in their configuration is on par with the most modern CAT tools around. The only significant limitation in my opinion is the lack of real-time preview. In order to preview your work  you will need to generate the translated file (CTRL + ALT + S) and open it in its native application. This may not sound like a big deal, but if you’ve been using a CAT tool which does have real-time preview you won’t want to give it up.

A Different Perspective

Apart from the TXML Editor we’ve been looking at until now, Wordfast a different has view called the PM perspective.

This can be opened by clicking the PM perspective icon below the File menu, and gives access to a number of batch activities useful for pre and post-production.

  • Analyze can be used to calculate the leveraging of file sets against Translation Memories and output reports.
  • Clean-up generates target files, updates TMs, passes on Attributes and reports on the results.
  • Pseudotranslation is a good pre-production tool used to test the  content exposed to translation before a project goes to translation.
  • Split/merge divides big projects into smaller, more manageable pieces according to the number of Translation Units or words found in TXMLs.
  • Bilingual export lets you export and reimport the bilingual file into a Word document (with optional track changes), so linguistic review can be performed by Subject Matter Experts in MS Word and automatically incorporated back into the TXML by the language team.
  • Show/Hide 100% lets the pre-production team exclude 100% matches from the handoff.
  • Transcheck creates QA reports based on the same options available in the TXML Editor.
  • Swap Source/Target does just that.

The user interface here is easy to get used but maybe a bit outdated. The shortcuts to Preferences in each screen are a good idea and the Bilingual Export sounds very practical.

Wordfast - PM perspective

Posted in Beginner's Guide, Surveys, Wordfast | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SDL WorldServer: Getting Started with Custom Reports

Posted by Nick Peris on October 22, 2012

The Report Center was completely upgraded with the last major release of WorldServer. Overall the new offering was very good, with a more modern interface and a more powerful underlying technology.

Yet upgrading the Report Center and starting to make the most of its full potential required a certain amount of effort. This is mostly because while it is accessible through WorldServer, the Report Center is in fact a completely separate application. Moreover,  it is made-up of three distinct elements, for which no integrated documentation exists: the queries, the reports layout and the repository site.

This post reviews the basic functionality of the current version and suggests ideas to improved it in the future.

Managing the Report Center

Adding Reports

Adding Jasper Reports

WorldServer Reports are designed offline (see next section). Once ready, they need to be imported:

  1. Open the Report Center (Tools > Report Center)
  2. Click View > Repository
  3. Right-click on the folder where you want to add a report
  4. Click Add Resource > JasperReport
  5. Enter a name for your report and upload the JasperReport file (.jrxml)

At first glance this works well and certainly is easy. There are however a few ways I think it could be made more efficient:

  • Add Version Control and Roll-back functions for successive uploads of the same JRXML. This is essential since the queries and layout cannot be edited via the Report Center.
  • Automatically read the Report Name and Resource ID from the JRXML file, to save manual steps and prevent typos.
  • Batch JRXML upload: this would be very useful to support upgrade effort, as well as to transfer reports from a Test server to a Production environment.
  • JRXML Download would help with future migration and simplify back-up processes
  • Finally some editable JRXML samples should be provided to show users how JasperReports can be used in WorldServer.

Data Sources

Creating a Report

Next, each Report has to be connected to a database. The setup steps may differ slightly depending on whether WorldServer uses Oracle or SQL, and drivers may need to be installed.

First, create a Data Source:

  1. Right-click on the folder where the reports are located
  2. Click Add Resource > Data Source
  3. Enter your Database details and test the connection before clicking Submit

You can now connect Reports to the Data Source:

  1. Right-click on a Report
  2. Choose Data Source > Select data source from repository
  3. Browse to the database you just connected

Here again, there is room for improvement in my opinion. The possibility to connect a location within the Report Center to a database would be helpful. Instead we have to connect each report one at a time.

Permissions

User access can be managed at both user or role-level. You can also setup different access for each report separately or for a folder within the repository. This is in keeping with one of WorldServer’s strengths, where permissions are extremely flexible, and relatively easy to fine-tune.

You could for instance have some reports only visible to Project Managers and others to Language coordinators. You could show linguists reports where the data only relates to their own work, or create Customer or Business Unit specific reports and then only grant access to them to people in selected groups.

Permissions can be edited by right-clicking on a report and choosing Permissions. Roles and Users are accessed via the Manage menu.

Inputs Controls

Search Parameters

A dialog box can easily be created to allow users to filter their searches or, more precisely, to set up the value of parameters to use when the report runs. In an SQL-based setup, percentage signs can be used for wildcards. A parameter added to the report during layout design is associated to each Input Control setup in the Report Center.

To create an Input Control:

  1. Right-click on Input Controls in the Repository
  2. Click Add Resource > Input Control and follow the steps on-screen

Note: the parameter name must match that from the Jasper Report (case-sensitive).

Once an Input Control is created it can be re-used for any number of reports:

  1. Right-click on the Report
  2. Click Edit > Controls & Resources > Add Input Controls and follow the steps on-screen

A Report can have several input controls, so the user could for example set a value for Project NameLanguage and Workgroup themselves, before running the Report. The Input Controls dialog also lets you save commonly used search parameters.

Overall this too works very well and is also  relatively easy to setup. My only criticism is the lack of documentation: there is no Online Help or Report creation guide apart from the Samples in the View menu.

Designing the Reports Layout

JasperSoft

The layout of WorldServer Reports cannot be designed or changed from WorldServer. The best way to do that is to embed your SQL query within a Jasper Report (.jrxml) using the JasperSoft iReport Designer. There is a free version available for download, which provides everything needed to design a WorldServer Report. Once again though, there doesn’t seem to be any WorldServer-related documentation available.

Jaspersoft iReport Designer

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  1. Connect iReport to your WorldServer database
  2. Create new report (File – New)
  3. Copy your query into the Query viewer iReport Query Edit button
  4. Click Read Fields iReport Read Fields button
  5. Go back to the Designer and drag 1 or more fields from the Report Inspector into the Detail area. This will automatically create headers which you can then rename, align etc.

Online vs. Offline

It can be time-consuming to pretty-up reports in iReport. The first way to gain efficiency is to make a choice between the way they look online and how clean the exports are. If you expect your users to consult the reports online, you may want to spend time making the report look good online, and load fast for example by breaking the output into pages. By opposition, if you expect the reports to be downloaded and their data further manipulated in Excel, you should instead make sure that the output doesn’t have empty lines or columns.

Re-using layouts

If you are creating several variations of a report, or migrating a number of reports between successive versions of the Report Center, it is worth trying re-use some of this tedious layout work:

  1. Open an existing JRXML in iReport
  2. Save it under an alternate name
  3. Overwrite or edit the query
  4. Click Read Fields iReport Read Fields button to update the list available in Designer
  5. Edit the Fields, Descriptions, and Parameters which need to be changed in the layout.

Editing Queries

SQL Server Management Studio

SQL server management studio

The query viewer in iReport is useful to a point but it doesn’t provide much feedback regarding syntax errors or other issues in queries. Another big limitation is that it doesn’t give any visibility into which Tables and Views are available in the database.

If your WorldServer uses an SQL database, you should consider using SQL server management studio when writing the queries. You can create and test your queries there before copying them to iReport, and browse through the database to get familiar with how the data is structured.

One thing to remember is that active and completed projects are in two separate locations. Just like in WorldServer you have a view for Active projects and another for Completed and Cancelled Projects, under Assignements, the database has the latter in dbo.archive Tables, and the former in dbo.active Views. Performance is much better when querying active projects, and the way the data is structured can also differ in the two locations.

You must have a very clear understanding of the following 3 WorldServer concepts.

  1. Project Group: all files, all languages, 1 file submission
  2. Project: all files, 1 language, 1 file submission
  3. Task: 1 file, 1 language

Their ID numbers are essential within queries because they link information associated with each of them. For example the language name is Project data, but the current owner is Task information. The 2 will need to be joined in order to create a report on current Task owners which lists the languages.

Lastly, any search parameter is better created directly in iReport once the query is finalised. Just replace them with an arbitrary value for testing purposes while working in the server management studio.

Learning resources

There are plenty of tutorials available for beginners and less-experienced database users, and a lot of them are free. I found SQL course.com very clear and concise. The interactive SQL interpreter is great for practicing and experimenting safely. W3Schools is another very good resource.

Posted in Beginner's Guide, SDL WorldServer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rookie Story: Where to Start with Localisation Management?

Posted by Nick Peris on October 11, 2011

Congratulations! You aced that interview a few weeks ago, and this morning you strolled into the office with a spring in your step! You had the HR induction and were introduced to your new colleagues. Now you’re logging onto the network, the company handbook reassuringly lying on the corner of your desk, or saved on your desktop.

Time to get started! The Company hired you to bring under control this thing almost mysteriously referred to as “Translations”. Your objectives are simple: reduce cost and improve quality. You are their first ever Localisation Manager, and you know the keys to your success will be the   standardisation and centralisation of all Localisation activities.

So what do you need to consider from a technical and organisational point of view?Flags, Nations, People

Getting to Know your Internal Customers

If there have been Translations in your Organisation, there are existing processes and linguistic assets you should be able to build on. You need to quickly learn about them by focussing on:

  1. Who are your allies? Each Department, Local Office etc. probably has at least one “Translation person”. Find out who they are and what they have been doing. Determine whether they will remain involved once you’ve established the new structure, or if they expect to be relieved of Localisation duties. All going well, you may be able to enroll some of them in an inter-departmental Localisation team, even if it’s only a virtual team.
  2. What is the inventory of current processes? Meet the current owners and document everything. No need for anything fancy since you are going to change these processes, but you need to have it all down so that when the inventory is finished you have an accurate and complete picture.
  3. What are the points common to all? Which of those processes work well and which don’t? The successful ones will be the building blocks for your future world.
  4. What are the specificities of each one? Which are worth keeping? Can they be used by other parts of the Organisation? Do they need to remain specific? Your new processes will need to achieve a balance between harmonisation and flexibility.
  5. Do any of those existing processes use technology such as CAT Tools, Content Management Systems, Translation Management Systems? If so should they be upscaled and shared across the Organization?
  6. Do any maintain linguistic assets like Glossaries, Style guides, Translation Memories or even just bilingual files which could be used to create TM’s?

Understanding your product lines

You need to understand what you are going to localise thoroughly before you can develop the processes. The question to answer are:

  1. What types of content: marketing, commercial website, Software, Help systems, self-service technical content, user-driven content like blogs etc. all those use very different registers, vocabulary, address etc. Moreover the choices made will differ again from one language to the next. Some content types require high volumes at low cost, such as Support content or product specifications. Some require high quality and creativity like Copywriting and Transcreation and you may even choose not to use TM’s for some of those. Some will be specific to parts of your Organisation while other will be global material. You will need to ensure a consistent Corporate identity across all these, in all languages.
  2. What are the fields: automotive, medical, IT require linguists with different backgrounds and specialisation. Make sure you know all the areas of expertise to cover during Translation and Review. For some you might to add Subject Matter Expert (SME) review to the more common step of Linguistic Review. Review changes will need to be implemented, communicated to Translators, fed into the TM’s, but the process will need to let SME’s take part in the process without having to learn CAT Tools.
  3. From a technical point of view you will also need to work with the content creators to determine the type of files you will receive from them and those they expect to receive back.
  4. Start a war on spread sheets as soon as possible. You probably won’t win it but the more you root out, the better. Teach your customers to understand how parsing rules protect their code by exposing only Localisable content during translation. Promote Localisation awareness during Development and Content creation. Document best practices such as avoiding hard-coded strings, providing enough space in the UI to accommodate the fact that some translations will be up to 30% longer than source text, at least if that is English.
  5. Your aim should be:
    • to receive files that can go straight to Translation with minimum pre-processing
    • to deliver files that your customers can drop into their build or repository for immediate use.
  6. No one should be doing any copy-paste engineering, manual renaming or file conversion.

Designing your Workflows

This can start with a pen and paper, a white board or whatever helps you think quicker, but it should end with a flowchart or set of flowcharts describing the process you’re setting up.

  1. Collaborate with your internal customers. You need to agree a signoff process, and avoid multiple source updates during or after the Translation process.
  2. Enumerate all the stages required and determine the following:
    • How many workflows do you need to describe all scenarios? Try to find the right balance: fewer workflows ensures efficiency, but too few workflows will lead participants to implement their own sub-processes to achieve their goals and you will lose control and visibility.
    • What stages do you need? The most common are:
      1. Pre-processing
      2. Translation
      3. Linguistic Review
      4. Post-Processing
      5. Visual QA
  3. Who are the owners of each step? Are they internal or external (i.e. colleagues or service providers)? How will you monitor progress and status? How will you pay?
  4. Is there a feedback loop and approval attached to certain steps? Will they prevent the workflow from advancing if certain criteria are not adhered to? Is there a limit to the number of iteration for certain loops?
  5. What automation can be put in place to remove human errors, bottle necks and “middle men” handling transactions.

Choosing your Vendors

Once you’ve determined which of your workflow steps need to be outsourced, you will need to select your providers. Linguistic vendors will likely be your most important choice.

Translation

In-house translators are a luxury rarely afforded. When choosing Translation vendors, first decide between Freelancers and Language Service Providers (LSP). Managing a pool of Translators is a job in itself, so most will hire the services of an LSP which will also be able to provide relief in terms of Project Management, Technology changes, Staff fluctuations depending on activity or holiday periods etc.. Having more than one LSP can be good strategic choice: it gives you more flexibility with scheduling and pricing. You can specialise your vendors according to content, region or strength. A certain amount of overlap is necessary for you to be able to compare their performance and benefit from a bit of healthy competition.

Linguistic review

Whichever setup you have for Translation, you will need linguistic review in order to ensure the integrity of the message is kept in the target languages. You will also need to ensure consistency between Translators or Agencies, check Terminology, maintain TM’s and Style guides.

Marketing and Local Sales Offices often get involved with that. However using internal staff removes them from their core tasks, unless you are lucky to have dedicated Reviewers. More than likely in-country colleagues will find it difficult to keep up with the volume and fluctuations of the Review work and ultimately will prove an unreliable resource. The solution is to hire the services of professional Reviewers. Many LSPs provide such services.  Some ask their competing providers to review each other, but that often results in counter productive arguments. A third-party dedicated review vendor will be the best to enforce consistency, accurately measure quality, maintain linguistic assets, and even manage translator queries on your behalf.

Selecting Technology

Translation Memory technology is a must. Which one you go for may be determined or influenced by existing internal processes, particularly if there are linguistic assets (TM’s and Glossaries) in proprietary formats. Your vendors may also have a preferred technology or even propose to use their own. If you go down that road, make sure you own the linguistic assets. The file format is another choice that needs to be made carefully from the start. Open source formats may save you from being locked into one technology. However technology vendors often develop better functionalities for their proprietary formats. It can be a trade-off between productivity and compatibility.

The good news is that conversion between formats is almost always possible. This means migration between technologies is possible, but avoid including conversion as a routine part of the process. Even if it’s automated, having to routinely output TM in several formats for example, will introduce inefficiencies and increased user support requirements.

Translation Management Systems have become so common, some think they are on the way out. You will at the very least, need a Portal to support file transactions, and share your linguistic assets with all the participants in your supply chain. Emails, preferably automatic notifications, should be used to support the transactions, but they should be avoided when it comes to file swapping. FTP is a common option, easy to set up, learn and cheap to run, but it can soon turn into a mess and gives you zero Project Management visibility. In order to achieve efficient status monitoring, resource pooling and any type of automation, you should consider a Translation Management System.

Whether you go for the big guns like WorldServer or SDL TMS, or for something more agile like XTRF TMS, you will reduce the amount of bottle necks in your process: handoffs will go straight from one participant to the next. The Project Managers will still have visibility, but no one will have to wait on them to pass on the handoff before they get started. TM’s will be updated in real-time and new content will become re-usable immediately.

A few things to look out for in your selection:

  1. Less click = shorter kickoff time. Setting up Projects in a TMS is an investment. It is always going to be longer then dumping files on an FTP and emailing people to go get them if you look at an isolated Project. As soon as you start looking at a stream of Projects TMS makes complete sense. Still, a TMS’s worst enemy is how many clicks it needs to get going.
  2. Scalability: you need the ability to start small and deploy further, without worrying about licenses or bandwidth.
  3. Workflow designer: demand a visual interface, easy to customise which can be edited without having to hire the services of the technology provider. Don’t settle for anything that will leave out at the mercy of the landlord.
  4. Hosting: weigh your options carefully here again. In-house is good if you have the infrastructure and IT staff. But letting the Technology provider host the product may a more reliable option. This is their business after all, maybe you don’t need to reinvent the wheel on that one.
  5. User support: the cost and responsiveness of the Support service is essential. No matter how skillful you and your team are, once you deploy a TMS to dozens of individual linguists there will be a non-negligeable demand for training and support. Make sure this is provided for before it happens.

Once you’ve made all these decisions, you will be in good shape to start building and efficient Localisation process. Last but not least, don’t forget to decide whether to spell Localisation with an “s” or a “z”, and then stick to it! 🙂

 

Related articles:

Crowdsourcing in Localisation: Next Step or Major Faux Pas?
Globalization – The importance of thinking globally
SDL Trados 2007: Quick Guide for the Complete Beginner
Which comes first, Globalization or Internationalization?
Who’s responsible for Localization in your organization?

 

Posted in Beginner's Guide | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Alchemy Catalyst 9.0: A Practical and Visual Guide

Posted by Nick Peris on November 15, 2010

I recently had the welcome surprise of finding an invite to a Catalyst webinar in my Inbox. It was with great anticipation and a touch of nostalgia for my Localisation Engineering days, that I clicked on the link and joined the meeting to discover what Alchemy had been up to.

I soon realised that a practical user’s guide would be the best way to cover this on Localization, Localisation. The Alchemy Software Development website already lists What’s New in this release so rather than analysing the differences between Catalyst 8, for which we did a complete Launch coverage and Catalyst 9, I’ve put together a step by step tour based on the demo.

This article can be used by Localisation Engineers and Translators alike to preview the Catalyst 9 interface using the 30 or so screen shots included (see after the slideshow for full screen versions), and also to read through some recommended processes and tips, adding to my past article on the Leverage and Update Experts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Creating a Project

The User Interface remains the flexible and now very familiar .net window, with its various docked panels and tabs. It’s also a stable interface which will cause little or no navigation headache to even the most novice user.

The first operation when getting started with Catalyst is to create a Project file, or TTK file. This is easily done by using the File – New menu and following the basic steps.

You will notice in the screen shots that the example used includes varied sample files such as compiled help (.chm) not requiring any source or project files, and wpf executable.Locked strings

Preparing a Project

After the creation of the TTK, source files can be inserted either using the Insert Menu item or a context menu in the Navigator tab. Folder structures can also easily be used.

Once the files have been inserted into the TTK, it is time to prepare it for leveraging.Translator Tool Bar Context Menu and Keyword Lock This operation of consists mostly of locking non-translatable strings and sub strings. It can be tedious on a brand new Project but the work done can be completely leveraged to the various language TTKs as well as any future versions of the project.

The lock keywords functionality has been improved in Catalyst 9: the txt file which the project’s keywords list is now automatically generated in the background as soon as the user locks a keyword.Catalyst 9 UI Batch Keywords Locking

Once a keywords list has been created, it can in turn be used to automatically lock the listed keywords in the remainder of the project.

Another thing to note is that Maximum String Length can now be set on a batch of strings at once.

Leveraging previously translated content

Apart from Leveraging from the TTKs of previous projects, Catalyst supports leveraging from a variety of Translation Memory formats:Keywords List

  • Translation Industry Open Standard (*.tmx)
  • SDL Trados 2007 (*.tmw)
  • Wordfast Pro (*.txml)
  • Tab-delimited (*.txt)
  • Alchemy Translation Memory (*.tm)
  • Alchemy Catalyst (*.ttk)
  • Alchemy Publisher (*.ppf)

Alchemy Translation Memory is a new proprietary format used to create Master TMs from completed TTK projects. This format allows to store Catalyst-specific context information such as the context (Dialog box ID, Menu Item etc.), which can later improve the quality of leveraging by providing Perfect match. In Catalyst terms, a Perfect Match is a 100% match located in the same Dialog, Menu etc).TM Compatibility List

Alchemy Publisher, Wordfast Pro, Trados 2007 or the nonproprietary TMS are also present provide compatibility with other TM format Catalyst might have to coexist with.

Noticeably, Trados Studio 2009 TMs (.sdltm) still do not appear to be supported.

Batch processing

The process recommended by Alchemy is to create an English to English Master TTK and then to automate its duplication and pre translation for each target language in the Project.

This is an area where Catalyst 9.0 does seem to bring a good bit of novelty:Create Job Expert

  • With Catalyst 7, engineers had to manually duplicate TTKs.
  • Catalyst 8 was a bit more helpful and created Project folders for target languages and project resources.
  • In Catalyst 9.0 however, the Job file and Scheduler take care of a lot of the repetitive tasks associated with preparing a new Project.

The Create Job Expert lets you use the Master TTK as a template to create project folder structure and corresponding target language TTKs.

Meanwhile, such tasks can also be added to the Scheduler. This new queuing system allows the user to start working on the next project while it processes queued tasks in the background.Create Job Expert Batch Leverage

Automation

The Command line automation has been improved since Catalyst 8 to include Analysis. The complete Catalyst localisation process can now be automated.

Catalyst 9.0 Developer Edition also includes the Comm API which lets advanced users script TTK operations all the way down to string level, and output automation reports  in txt or xml format.

Ensuring Quality and Consistency

In addition to Translation Memories, Catalyst 9 also supports several Glossary formats:

  • Text files, used in Catalyst since the beginning (.txt)
  • Terminology Exchange Open Standard (.tbx)
  • Translation Memory Exchange can also be used for Terminology (*.tmx)
  • SDL MultiTerm and MultiTerm ServerCatalyst 9 inline Validation

Validation still takes two forms: the Expert can be run to perform global check, and inline validation can also be switched as a non-intrusive real-time quality control. If a potential error is found, a flag will be raised through the bottom pane, but Translators will not be interrupted. They can simply go back to the issue by clicking on the notification once they are ready to attend to it.

The Thumbnail view seems to be a great tool for engineers regressing bug. It gives a preview of all dialogs in a TTK and lets you click the one which matches for example the screen shot in a QA report and brings you automatically to the location of this dialog in the ttk file.Catalyst 9 Thumbnails

Translating in Catalyst

The Concordance search and Translator toolbar do not appear to have been changed. Both were introduced with Catalyst 8 where there was strong focus on improving the user experience from the Translator’s point of view, and they seem to have delivered.

The new Re-cycle button is a result of the same ambition. New translations can be propagated to entire project by using the current project as an inline TM in the background. Layouts are not recycled but fuzzies are supported.

Clean up Expert

Finally the Clean up Expert has also receive some improvements. Like for all Experts, it is recommended to close the Project file before running it, and then select the file(s) to process from the Expert’s General tab.

Clean up now creates a postproject.tm Translation Memory and generate supplied assemblies for .net.

Conclusion

in my opinion, this new generation of Catalyst still offers a great solution for visual localisation. Although the differences with Catalyst 8 may not may not make a bullet proof case for immediate upgrade, the 25% discount currently on offer does represent decent value.

Posted in Beginner's Guide, Catalyst, News, Software Localisation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

SDL Trados Studio 2009: The Compatibility Questions

Posted by Nick Peris on July 21, 2009

SDL Trados Studio 2009: the Compatibility QuestionsOne by one, SDL continue to address obstacles to our upgrade decisions. Earlier today, one of their webinars tackled the critical topic of Compatibility in Translation Supply Chain. A recording will be available at www.sdl.com, but here is a quick summary for our convenience.

Alignment

This feature is not included in the recent release of SDL Trados Studio 2009. It is planned as an upcoming update, but until then SDL Trados WinAlign or SDL Align from the Trados 2007 Suite must be installed to perform alignment work.
Once the alignment performed in Trados 2007, export to Translator’s Workbench TXT, and import into a Workbench or SDL Maintain TM respectively.
That TM can then be upgraded to a Trados Studio 2009 TM (.sdltm). The export can also be imported directly into an sdltm but with implications regarding TM settings (see section below).

Translation Memories

Upgrading old TMs

Old TMs and bilingual files can be upgraded (File and Server-based supported).
TMX can be imported directly into sdltm, but if imported into tmw or mdb first, the TM settings can be imported into the sdltm.
3rd party TMX may not support this path fully, as they may contain settings specific to the CAT tool used to create them.
The Upgrade Translation Memories wizard in Trados Studio 2009 can batch process various TM formats for various language pairs simultaneously. A Custom option lets you rename the TM output files if required. Segmentation rules can also be imported. Translation Units can be filtered out by field (e.g. you can choose not to include TU’s tagged as “Not approved”).
You can also choose to output as many as TMs as you input, or merge same language pairs independently of their TM formats.

Publishing new TMs to Trados 2007 users

Export to TMX ensures vendors and colleagues who are using Trados 2007 can use your TMs. But this removes support for features like Context Match because information on previous segment, style…is only carried in sdltm.

Creating new TMs from old bilingual files

Importing ttx or itd directly into sdltm (batch) allows Context information to be added (this process however will not carry over any TM setting). It’s a case of either or.

Termbase compatibility

MultiTerm 2007 Termbase can be opened directly and automatically upgraded by MultiTerm Desktop 2009 (it’s one-time operation obviously).
Termbase from earlier versions of MultiTerm have to be converted into xml first, using SDL MultiTerm Convert, before they’re imported into a MultiTerm Desktop 2009 Termbase (.sdltb). Selecting
Catalog-Export allows to export using the Default Export Definition, to export to xml (which can be used by a user with MultiTermT2007)

Bilingual files

TTX and ITD can be opened directly. They will be converted to sdlxliff (e.g. filename.doc.ttx.sdlxliff)
At the end of project they can be saved back to TTX or ITD using
Save Target As. Use select
Original
TRADOStag Document to save as ttx (requires SDL Trados 2007 Suite).

Tag settings files

SDLX and Trados settings files can be upgraded. To do so go to
Tools-Options-File Types- select file type and click Copy to duplicate the default settings file in Trados Studio 2009. Browse to save location and move your new settings file up and down the list to set its priority against the original one. Import the legacy settings

into the new File type setting you created.

TMS and MTO

Compatibility with SDL TMS will be implemented, as soon as integration is available. The date is unconfirmed and SDL advise to stick to SDL Trados 2007 Suite TM, Bilingual and TermBase formats for the time being.

Compatibility with MultiTerm Online will only occur with the upcoming release of MultiTerm Server 2009.

Posted in Beginner's Guide, SDL Trados, SDL Trados Studio 2009 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

SDL Trados Studio 2009: Installation Guide

Posted by Nick Peris on June 9, 2009

SDL Trados Studio 2009 now available!

As previously announced, SDL released the new version of Trados late last week. To support the launch, the SDL Trados Support team have published some information about installation which I’m relaying here.

System Requirements

Pentium IV Dual Core
2GB RAM
Large screen resolution (1280*1024)
Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista SP1 (32-bit only for both)

(more details on the SDL Support site)

Preparation

  1. Return your SDL Trados 2007 Suite Freelance (not Professional) activation code from the License Manager (view Activated License, select it, click Return License). This is a requisite before Trados Studio 2009 upgrade becomes available from your SDL account (due to the upgrade discount).
  2. Uninstall beta/rc version (including manually for some files).
  3. Uninstall any previous version of MultiTerm.
  4. Ensure you have installed SDL Trados 2007 Suite (version 8.2.863 or 8.3.863). This is a pre-requisite to allow TM upgrade and support for ttx and itd in SDL Trados Studio 2009. A full and permanent version of Trados 2007 Suite is available from your SDL account if you have purchased or upgraded to SDL Trados Studio 2009. More info on this is available on the SDL Knowledge Base and ProZ.

Installation

  1. Run the SDL Trados Studio 2009 installation (required .NET 3.5 platform included).
  2. After completion, the SDL Product Activation wizard appears. It lets the user select between Buy, Purchased and Trial and then the license type (incl. License Server configuration).
  3. Run the SDL MultiTerm 2009 Desktop (bundled with all versions of Studio 2009 – SDL MultiTerm 2009 Extract is sold separately).

Configuration

At first run you can select a Profile depending on your keyboard shortcut preference:

  • Default: for new users
  • SDL Trados: for users of previous Trados versions
  • SDLX: for users of previous Trados versions

The rest of the configuration is automatic, and subsequent starts will be faster.

Notes

Winalign 2009 is not released yet. It will be provided for free to Studio 2009 license holders who in the meantime can use the version bundled with Trados 2007 Suite.

License server has not been updated, the existing version works with Trados Studio 2009.

AutoSuggest is included with every license of Studio 2009, but creating dictionaries requires a paying add-on (currently bundled for free for a limited time)

Posted in Beginner's Guide, SDL Trados, SDL Trados Studio 2009 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SDL Trados 2007: Quick Guide for the Complete Beginner

Posted by Nick Peris on April 14, 2009

This is a quick practical guide which was used when setting up the team of in-house translators I mentioned in my earlier post about Using Trados in Knowledge Base translation.

Everything in here is fairly low-level and is really designed to help someone get started immediately with their first translation, reviewing or bug fixing job in Trados.

SDL Trados 2007 consists of 3 modules

  1. Workbench is used to access the Translation Memory (TM), a database of existing translated sentences.
  2. TagEditor is the editing tool, where the translation is done.
  3. MultiTerm is an add-on (installed) which may be running in the background. It checks the segment currently being translated for English words or groups of words which may have a pre-approved translation.

Getting started

  1. Copy the TTX files (or English source files if TTX weren’t provided) and TM (5 files per language) to a folder on your local hard disk.
  2. Open the TM in Trados Workbench: double-click the file with extension .tmw or open Workbench and browse to it from the File-Open menu.
  3. Open the TTX (or source file) in Trados TagEditor: open TagEditor and browse to it from the File-Open menu or double-click the file if it’s already associated with TagEditor.
  4. Place your cursor in the English segment of the Translation Unit (TU) you want to translate.
  5. Click Open/Get Open/Get in the TagEditor tool bar.
  6. Edit the target segment of the TU (i.e. translate the part highlighted in yellow).
  7. Click Set/Close Set/Close to save your changes to this TU into both the TM and TTX.
  8. Save and close the TTX once it is fully translated.
  9. Start at point 3. above with the next TTX or source file.

Working with placeables

Most Placeables are tags contained within segments. Here is how Trados can help the translator with placeables:

  1. Open/Get Open/Get a TU.
  2. In Workbench, Placeables are underlined in blue (2 in the example below):Placeable in Workbench
  3. In TagEditor, put your cursor where the Placeable needs to be inserted into the target (yellow) area:Cursor
  4. Click Get Current Placeable Get Current Placeable.
  5. If there is more than one, use the Get Previous Placeable Get Previous Placeable and Get Next Placeable Get Next Placeable buttons as required.

Working with terms

If MultiTerm is running in the background, Trados is able to detect Terms listed in a dictionary and suggest their approved translation. Here is how to use this feature:

  1. Open/Get Open/Get a TU.
  2. In Workbench, Terms are over-lined in red (2 in this example):Term in Workbench
  3. In TagEditor, put your cursor where the Term needs to be inserted:Cursor
  4. Click Get Current Term Get Current Term.
  5. If there is more than one, use the Get Previous Term Get Previous Term and Get Next Term Get Next Term as required.

Tip: for more information on the Current Term, double-click the book icon beside the Term on the right Term Windowhand-side of Workbench. This will open a MultiTerm window where you can see more details about the Term (e.g. definition, product category etc. depending on how the TermBase was set), and browse the TermBase for other Terms.

Other useful buttons

  • Open Open: opens the TU in TagEditor without searching for a match in the TM.
  • Get Translation Get Translation: downloads a translation from the TM into the TU opened in TagEditor.
  • Restore Source Restore Source: removes the target segment (i.e. translation) from the opened TU.
  • Copy Source Copy Source: copies the source segment (i.e. English) into the target segment of the opened TU.
  • Set/Close next Open/Get Set/Close next Open/Get: uploads the translation from the current TU to the TM, closes the TU, opens the next TU and downloads any matching translation for the TM.
  • Translate to fuzzy Translate to fuzzy: translates all sentences in an English file opened in Tageditor, until it comes across a sentence with match less than 100% against the opened TM.
  • Close Close: closes a TU, saving changes made to the TTX, but without uploading the new translation to the TM.
  • Concordance Concordance: searches for an English word selected in a TTX, throughout all the sentences in the opened TM.

Troubleshooting tips

Open/Get button is grayed out

Using the Open/Get button in TagEditor requires a TM loaded in Workbench. Here is what to do if it’s grayed out: Greyed out Open/Get

  1. Ensure only one instance of Workbench is open.
  2. Ensure it has a TM open.
  3. If so, click the Connect to Workbench button in TagEditor: Connect to Workbench.
  4. If the issue is still not solved, close TagEditor, and re-open it.

TM won’t open in Workbench

Translation Memories are made up of 5 files per language and can only be opened one at a time. Here are the main errors that can occur when opening a TM:

  • Couldn’t obtain database lock: you are probably trying to re-open a TM in a second instance of Workbench.
    Solution:

    1. ensure only one instance of Workbench is open
    2. Go to its File menu
    3. Choose Open
    4. Browse to the TM you were trying to open.
    5. If this doesn’t resolve the issue the TM may be corrupted.
  • The system cannot find the file specified: one of the 5 files is missing.
    Solution: ensure the .iix and .tmw files are present in the location where you copied the TM.
  • Matrix Error: (null), data file: one of the 5 files is missing.
    Solution: ensure the .mdf and .mtf files are present in the same location as the .tmw you are opening.
  • Database corrupt! Run export, create and new TM and reimport: one of the 5 files could also be missing.
    Solution: ensure the .mwf file is present in the same location as the .tmw you are opening.
  • While no valid license file is used or no dongle is connected, this application runs in demo mode: no available license
    Solution: ensure your Trados license is activated.

Posted in Beginner's Guide, SDL Trados, SDL Trados 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Alchemy Catalyst Experts: Leverage vs. Update

Posted by Nick Peris on March 30, 2009

Leverage and Update Expert buttons

When I started using Catalyst, I felt Leverage Expert was more of a batch tool and Update Expert was only for small updates.

A little bit more planning taught me how this apparently simple choice can increase efficiency. According to Alchemy, Leverage allows to maximise the reuse of existing translations, while Update is used to replace a small number of files, using Leverage in the background. The choice of course depends on the type of handoff you are dealing with:

  • is it a new project or an update?
  • are there many files to update within each TTK?
  • are these files Win 32 executables?
  • are the changes functional or do they impact a lot of localisable strings?

Let’s look into typical workflows to see how they best respond to our needs.

Leverage Expert

  • Create a TTK.
  • Import all the localisable source files.
  • Duplicate it to the number of target languages.
  • Rename them using language codes.
  • Set each file’s target language.
  • Leverage from all the relevant repositories of previous translations.
  • Update the status of every string in the TTK to Signoff or For Review as required.

Update Expert

  • Copy previous version of each localised TTK.
  • Update name by incrementing version number (e.g. from__.ttk to__.ttk).
  • Update the application file(s) which have been changed in each localised TTK.
  • Use Leverage Expert if required to reuse translations from sources other than the previous TTK.
  • Update the status of the strings marked for review only.

When working with several target languages, each TTK containing a number of files, with regular updates, and if you keep you string status tidy, I think Update Expert turns out to be more efficient in the majority of cases. I would estimate that if less than 10% of the files in a TTK need to be updated there is a lot to gain in ensuring that every string which was signed off in the previous version does not have to be signed off, or even reviewed, again. It is much easier to differentiate which have been updated when using the Update Expert.

To be specific, by favouring the Update Expert you will save on:

  • Importing application files into the English TTK.
  • Setting target language in TTK and each application file.
  • Signing off untouched strings.

The icing on the cake would be, if anyone from Alchemy is reading me, to add 1 or more TM Source to the leveraging that goes on in the background when running Update Expert:

Update Expert with TM Source (mockup)

Posted in Beginner's Guide, Catalyst, Software Localisation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »