Localization, Localisation

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MT, TM’s & TMS’s: Interview with Wayne Bourland, Global Localization Director, Dell‏

Posted by Nick Peris on March 27, 2012

Transcreation is used in high visibility content on Dell.com. In this example, the French banner has a more seductive tone, and replaces "Shop Now" with "Discover More"

Last summer Wayne Bourland, Director of Global localization at Dell, spoke about Machine Translation at the LocWorld Conference in Barcelona. He raised some very interesting points, which were later echoed in an article in MultiLingual (July-August 2011). The central idea was that MT was failing to gain traction for three reasons: clients not knowing how to buy it, Providers not knowing how to sell it, and Translators being reluctant to support it.

Wayne is an active member the Global Localisation community. He has been involved in developing best practises in the industry, sharing experiences with other Localisation consumers and developing sophisticated partnership with providers.

He has now accepted to revisit these ideas with us and discuss the outlook for MT. We’ll also take this chance to talk about other aspects of Localisation, such as Translation Management Systems and Translation Technology in general.

[Nick] Hi Wayne, thanks very much for agreeing to give some of your time to talk to Localization, Localisation. Could you start by giving us an overview of your career?

[Wayne] I came into this industry in an unconventional way. After a decade in the US Army I joined Dell, starting as a phone tech support agent. After moving into management I helped to establish call centers in India and South America before making a jump over to managing writers for support content. We had a small translation operation supporting tech support content in 7 languages. After being asked to take over the translation team we grew the team rapidly, moving into online content, then marketing, to where we are today supporting more than 90 different groups across Dell.

Machine Translation

Now let’s start with MT. Does MT still get more talk than action or have you observed an evolution in the last year? Has your team been driving changes in this area?

I think we are certainly seeing a groundswell. Jaap van der Meer with TAUS used to talk about 1000 MT engines, now he talks about 10s or 100s of thousands of them, trained very quickly and supporting a multitude of languages and domains. Every major client side translation leader I talk to is using MT in some way. Some are still toying with it, but many are investing heavily. Vendors have caught on to the growing demand and are either building their own capabilities or forging partnerships with MT providers. We are seeing groups from academia starting to see the value in commercializing their efforts. Soon we may have the problem of too much choice, but that’s on the whole a positive change for buyers. As far as the role my team is playing, we are doing what we have done for years, representing the enterprise client voice, discussing our perspective wherever we can (like here).

Dell Store Germany

"If you go to Dell.com to purchase a laptop in France, or Germany for instance, the content you see is Post-Edited Machine Translation"

I know Dell has been using MT for a long time for Support content. Are you now able to use it for higher visibility content? Is MT effective for translating technical marketing material such as product specs and product webpages? Are more Localisation consumers ready to trust it?

Since May of last year we have been using MT with Post Edit in the purchase path of Dell.com. Meaning if you go to Dell.com to purchase a laptop in France, or Germany for instance, the content you see is PEMT. As of February of this year we are supporting 19 languages with PEMT. Yes, MT can be used for something other than support content. That’s not to say we have cracked the code, it still requires extensive Post Edit, we haven’t seen the level of productivity gains we had hoped yet, but we are making progress. Being on the cutting edge means dealing with setbacks.

I don’t think it’s a question of consumer trust. I think if you’re doing a good job of understanding the consumer need for your domain, and you measure your MT program against quality KPIs that mirror those expectations (v. relying simply on BLEU scores and the like to tell you how you are doing), then consumer trust won’t be an issue.

Which post-editing strategy produces the optimum results? Presumably it depends on the content type, but do you favour Post-Editing, Post-editing plus Review sampling, Post-Editing plus Full Review? What are the Quality assurance challenges specific to using MT?

I favour all of the above, each has their place. Following on to my previous answer, it’s about understanding the desired outcome. MT will be ubiquitous some day and people need to get used to it. You don’t start with picking the right process, you start with picking the right outcome, the appropriate balance of cost, time and quality, and you work backwards to the right process. If you’re supporting a large operation like I am, or just about any large enterprise client translation team, you’re going to need a number of different processes tuned to the desired outcomes for each content type. You build a suite of services and then pull in the right ones for each workflow. What we are doing on Dell.com today is PEMT with quality sampling. We made a decision that full QA (which we are moving away from for all translation streams) didn’t make sense when you factored in the cost and velocity goals we had. Of course, we have a great set of vendors and translators that make the PE work. Our quality standard has not changed.

Are LSP’s learning how to sell it? Is it finding its way into the standard offering of most providers or does it remain a specialists’ area only available for example in very big volume programs?

Wayne Bourland, Dell

I think some of them are. There are many LSPs out there who are still shying away from it, but the majority of your larger suppliers are getting the hang of it. They see the trends, they know that services, not words, is what will drive margin dollars, and MT is a big part of that service play. I wouldn’t say it’s standard yet though, it’s still handled as a completely separate conversation to traditional translation in many cases, but that is changing too. The more savvy LSPs are talking to clients about desired outcomes and how they can support that across the enterprise. The key is, at least for selling into large enterprises, you can’t be a speciality shop. Companies are increasingly moving to preferred supplier list, narrowing down the number of companies that they buy services from. So going out and picking 2 or 3 translation companies, and 2 or 3 MT providers, and a couple of transcreation specialist is happening less and less. Clients are looking for a handful of vendors who can bring all of these services, either organically or through partnerships.

You also expressed the opinion that the work of Translators would tend to polarise with high-end Transcreation type of work on one hand, and high-volume post-editing on the other. Are you observing further signs in that direction? How does the prospect of localising ever-expanding user-generated content such as blogs and social media fit into this view?

I think this still holds true, we can argue about when it happens, but at some point MT will be a part of nearly every translation workflow. Traditional translation work may not decrease, but the growth will be in MT and MT related services. I think user generated content is the domain of raw MT or even real time raw MT. Investing dollars and resources to translate content that you didn’t invest in creating in the first place really doesn’t make sense. Either the community will translate it, or interested parties can integrate MT to support their regional customers, but I can’t see a business case for any other form of translation for this domain of content.

Support sites were one of the earlier content types to adopt Machine Translation

Is the distinction between MT and TM loosing relevance? In mature setups, all content is highly leveraged. Often TM sequencing is used to maximise re-use even across content types, while taking into account the different levels of relevance. Post-editing and Review have to ensure any leveraged translation is the right translation in-context and at the time, regardless of its origin. In other words, once a match is fuzzy, does it matter whether it comes from human or machine translation?

It shouldn’t matter, and I think eventually it won’t, but it still does today, to my frustration. Translators still dislike MT, even in case studies where it has been shown that the MT output was performing better than TM fuzzy matching. And of course MT still has its challenges. We just aren’t there yet, I see them co-existing for some time to come, but eventually they will be one in the same for all practical purposes.

Translation Memory Technologies

What are the main advances you have observed in TM Technology over the last few years? Which are the most significant from the point of view of a Localisation consumer? Translator productivity tools such as predictive text? In-context live preview? The deployment of more TMS’s? The variety of file formats supported? Or perhaps the ability to integrate with CMS and Business Intelligence tools?

I won’t claim to be an expert on translation technology, but I really like in-context live preview and more TMS’s are starting to support it. Nothing beats seeing something as its going to be seen by the consumer for ensuring the most contextually accurate translation. I think all of the mentioned technologies have a place, but I am interested in tools that assist the translator. We have this crazy paradox in our industry where we have spent years trying to make human translators more machine like (increased productivity) and machines more human like (human quality MT). I think to a large degree we have neglected to innovate for the translator community. Too much time was spent trying to squeeze rates down and word counts up without really investing in the translator and their tools to facilitate this.

Wayne Bourland, Dell

By opposition, are there pain points you have been aware of for some time and are surprised are still a problem in 2012?

There are a number of them, TM cleaning is way more difficult than it should be and good tools to help are sparse. The differences in words counts between different tool sets is also challenging (a quote generated by one vendor can vary widely than one from another vendor for the same job and with similar rates due to large deltas in word count).

The ability to leverage from many Translation Memories and prioritise between them is in my opinion a must-have. Do you see any negative side to TM sequencing? Is the cost of managing linguistic assets a concern to customers?

I think one potential negative to TM sequencing is it allows people to get lazy with TM management. Simply adding more TMs to the sequence doesn’t ensure success. The cost for managing linguistic assets is a concern, although I think we don’t always realize how big of a concern it should be. As mentioned above, TM cleaning is costly and time-consuming, but necessary. Clients and SLVs alike should put TM maintenance on the annual calendar, ensure at the least some time is devoted to reviewing the strategy. There is a lot of lost cost and quality opportunity in good TM management. It’s something I don’t think we do nearly well enough.

How about TM Penalties? Do you see a use for them as a part of Quality Management strategy, or are they a cost factor with little practical use to the customer?

I think they have a purpose, if you know one set of TMs is more appropriate for your domain you want to ensure it is used first for segment matching, however, it should be used cautiously. We penalized a TM when we shouldn’t have and it cost us a large amount of money before we figured it out. Hence the need to review your TM strategy periodically and also watch leverage trending!

I see source Content Management, or Quality control during the creation of the source content, as a key to quality and cost control in Translation. Can you tell us about what you have observed? How is source quality controlled at Dell? Do you have any insight into the process of choosing and setting up Source Content tools with Localization in mind?

I agree there is huge potential in controlling the upstream content creation process. It’s also, for many of us, very difficult to do. You’re starting to see a lot of clients and LSPs do more here. It’s another one of those services that SLVs can build into their suite to derive revenue from non-word sources. It’s also an area where translation teams can show innovation and have a larger impact on company objectives. We are in the process of implementing Acrolinx with several of our content contributors. I think the key is getting buy-in from the authoring teams and their management. You have to be able to demonstrate how this helps them and the bottom line.

Are Terminology and Search Optimization Keywords managed in an integrated manner, from the source content creation to the Localised content deployment?

Wayne Bourland, Dell

You’re kidding right? I know you’re not, and it’s a really important topic, but no, we don’t do it in an integrated manner today and I think many of us are struggling to figure this one out. We are piloting an Acrolinx add-on that targets localized SEO, but I think a lot of education is needed for companies to understand the potential here.

Translation Management Systems

Your team uses a Translation Management System to collaborate with vendors and their linguists. What is your overall level of satisfaction with the technology?

I haven’t talked to a single large enterprise client who is “satisfied” with their TMS. That’s not to say that everyone is unhappy, but many of us have had to invest a great deal of time and money into fitting the TMS into our ecosystems. The lack of observed standards exacerbates the problem. I don’t know what the solution is here, more competition would help, but it isn’t a silver bullet. Perhaps more interest from major CMS players would help drive innovation here. The CMS industry is much larger than the TMS industry, and integrations are becoming more and more common place. We will have to wait and see. I do know that user communities have formed around many of the larger TMS offerings, and I think the shared voice of many customers will help to push for the right changes. If you’re not participating in one of these now, I would encourage you to do so!

When purchasing enterprise solutions it can be difficult to accurately estimate the financial benefits. Providers will often help potential buyers put to together an ROI. With the benefit of hindsight, would you be able to share with us how long it took for your Translation Management System to pay for itself in cost saving? How did that compare to the ROI estimated at the time of the original investment.

I wasn’t a party to the purchase and implementation of our current solution. I am aware of the cost, but not the promised ROI. However, I can say that it probably paid for itself in year 2, due more to the volume ramp than anything else. I would certainly say utilizing our TMS solution more than pays for the on-going maintenance. I do know that moving between TMS’s, when you consider the level of integration we have, would be daunting and the ROI would have to be very large and very attainable.

Online Sales sites re-use large amounts of existing translations thanks to TMs

Which would be your top 5 criteria if you were to purchase a new Workflow System today?

1- It would have to support multiple vendors
2- Have a robust API for integrating with varied CMSs
3- Support all modern document formats (CS 5.x, Office 2010, etc.)
4- Cloud based and scaleable
5- Easy client-side administration
There are probably 100 more factors….

I’ve come across a number of relatively news TMS’s recently. They often have some nice new features, and friendlier, more modern user interfaces. But I find they tend to lack features users of the more established systems would take for granted: TM sequencing, the ability to work offline or even download word count reports are not necessarily part of the package. Have you had opportunities to compare different systems? If so what was your impression?

We are so tightly integrated with a number of CMSs that we have not been in the position to look at other options. I think that is the key challenge for companies selling TMSs, how do you break the lock-in.

The upgrade process for TMS systems is sometimes difficult because of the vast number of users involved or the automation and development effort which may have been done to connect to Content Management Systems, Financial Systems, Portals etc. Is that also your experience? Can you tell us about your process for minor and major upgrades?

We feel this pain often. We have rarely had an upgrade that didn’t spawn additional issues or downtime. We have worked with IT and the tool supplier to setup regression testing, testing environments, upgrade procedures, failure protocols, etc. but it still seems we can’t pull off a seamless launch, primarily due to a failure of some sort on the supplier side. It’s frustrating, and many of my peers are having the same experience.

In the domain of Quality Control, the availability of QA Models in TMS’s seemed like a major development one or two years ago. Yet I find they are not actively rolled out, and offline spread sheet-based Quality Reports have proven resilient. Is that also your experience? And do you think the trends towards more flexible and content-specific quality measurement systems like that of TAUS, particularly in the area of gaming, make online LISA-type QA models more or less adequate?

Wayne Bourland, Dell

We championed the inclusion of a QA system in our current TMS and don’t use it. We found that it just wasn’t robust enough to handle all of the different scenarios. We still use spreadsheets; it has worked for years and probably will for many more. We are participating with TAUS on their new proposed quality model and I am anxious to see where it goes, I think the use of the content and the audience plays a big role and are ignored in quality models today that just look at linguistics. Customers don’t care about linguistics, they care about readability and if the content talks to them or not.

Do you know the proportions of Translators and Reviewers respectively, working online and offline on your production chain? Is this proportion changing or stable? What do you think would be the deciding factor to finally getting all linguists to work online?

I think it is about 50/50 right now, but that’s really more a difference in how our different vendors work than tools or process. I don’t see it changing in the near term, but I would like to see more move online, I think there is opportunity for quicker leverage realization and other enhancements that make a completely online environment look attractive.

Conclusion

As you probably know, Ireland has had a pretty rough ride in recent years. But the Localisation industry is doing comparatively well. What are the main factors to explain Ireland’s prominent place on the Localisation Industry. Many companies have their decision centres and supplier partnerships setup from Dublin when it comes to Localisation. Do you think this will continue in the future?

Now we are really going outside my area of expertise. I think Ireland’s location (in Europe), its influx of immigrants with language skills, the strong presence of language and MT in Academia, and of course, the resilience and work ethic of the Irish all serve to make Ireland a great place for the language services industry. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Hopefully not, I do love my bi-annual trips to Dublin! Coincidentally, I am typing these answers on the plane to Dublin. I can taste the Guinness now. 🙂

Wayne will participate to two discussions at this year’s LocWorld Conference in Paris, June 4-6: one about Dell’s Self Certification program for Translators and one about Multilingual Terminology and Search Optimisation. Self Certification is a concept implemented by Dell where instead of having Translation and then QA,  Translators perform a few additional QA steps to certify their own work. This removes any bottleneck due to a full-on QA step. Independent weekly sampling and scoring are used to monitor the system, but is not a part of the actual production chain.

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memoQ 4: Interview with István Lengyel

Posted by Nick Peris on December 22, 2009

I have been trying to diversify the topics we cover on LocLoc; and especially the tools we talk about. It started recently with a QA tool and now continues with a CAT tool. I already know from the survey I’ve had on this page, that a lot of you are familiar with Kilgray’s memoQ. This, is a preview of what to expect from the forthcoming memoQ4, from the mouth of Kilgray’s COO, István Lengyel.

[Nick Peris] Hi István, could you introduce Kilgray and your role within the company?

[István Lengyel] Hi Nick! Thanks for inviting me to do this interview. Kilgray Translation Technologies is an independent company dedicated to the development of clean and innovative tools for translation, but so far we are by far the best known for our memoQ translation environment. Though we are based in Hungary and all the founders are Hungarians, we became quite an international team in the last two years, opening up in Germany, Poland and now in the US. It’s really great to work in this team, as we have people coming from all sorts of companies such as Idiom, Passolo, SDL Trados, etc., and every addition to the team opens up new perspectives and shows new approaches – the company culture builds on respect and cooperation.

I am one of the architects of memoQ and also the chief operating officer at Kilgray, though in reality I’m mostly managing our sales and marketing team and our international expansion.

[Nick] Could you give a general overview of what memoQ is for readers who are not familiar with it?

[István] memoQ is an integrated translation environment that has a couple of focal points. First, it is easy to use, easy to learn. Second, we translate a lot in it and manage memoQ’s localization in memoQ itself, so we developed an eye for details – there are lots of smaller features that really make life easier. Third, from the very beginning we were concentrating on collaboration, and even the first version included an internet-enabled TM/TB server. Fourth, we don’t believe that we should lock in any of our customers – the entire system supports interoperability between tools to the maximum extent, meaning that you can process files prepared by virtually any major translation tool, and you can also prepare files for processing in other tools. There’s also a full set of documented APIs available for integration with other tools. Fifth, leverage, which means that we are trying to make the most of your resources. There were a couple of things where memoQ pioneered: we were the first to introduce real-time previews that change as you type, we were the first to introduce communication such as knowledge bases and instant messaging and offline synchronization into a translation memory server, we were the first to introduce the translation memory-based segmentation where pre-translation emulates the way your translators join and split segments, and we were the first to introduce the automated concordancing. But quite frankly, we are just as happy to take over things that work from other tools as we are to introduce new stuff.

[Nick] I know you are preparing to release a new version; could you give us a release date for memoQ 4?

[István] A few days ago we named January 31, 2010 for the release date, but I was reminded that it’s a weekend. So the first week of February. (Well, who cares about weekends? :))

[Nick] What are the main changes from memoQ 3.5 and main reasons to upgrade?

[István] There are so many changes that I can hardly list them! memoQ 4 is the first memoQ version that really focuses on project management. We like to build bottom-up and believe that an organization will only have a good experience deploying a tool if the translators like it, and we spent the last five years making the translators happy. So let’s start with the revolutionary feature: post-translation statistics. Imagine a situation where several people are working on the same set of similar documents, using a server-based translation memory. There can be a lot of fuzzy matches coming from the other translator’s translated entries, but so far there was no way in any tool to enumerate these matches, because the person who starts working later gets more matches than the person who is the first to start. memoQ 4.0’s post-translation statistics will solve this Gordian knot, and give you the actual fuzzy match analysis for every translator after the project. This way finally there is a business model for server-based translation.

Other than this, the biggest change is that we have upgraded the concept of translation memory servers to the concept of resource servers. So far you could share translation memories, term bases and documents between translators, and you could set up projects for them centrally. In the new version, you can share every other resource such as auto-translatables (for people used to Trados lingo: customizable placeables), non-translatables, segmentation rules, QA settings, keyboard shortcut settings, ignore lists for the spell checker and so on – 12 of them, all together. What’s more, sharing this happens in the background so you can start the publication of a big TM on the server and go on managing other projects in the meantime. These resources can all be exported into an XML-based format so clever project managers can prepare them also automatically.

memoQ 4 also brings finally the concept of multilingual projects. You can create handoff packages and receive delivery packages, or you can simply publish a project on the server. Those who receive the handoff package can in turn create new handoff packages (handy for a multi-tier enterprise-MLV-SLV-translator setup), and through delivery the files and reports are updated automatically. The handoff packages are just zipped containers of open-source format data – XLIFF for documents, TMX for TMs and CSV for terminology. You can process the packages in any tool, so the users are not locked in.

Compared to these improvements, the brand new text editor, the completely revamped user interface and the streamlined quality assurance seem small. Even the previous version of memoQ got quite a lot of credits for its good support of bidirectional and CCJK languages, memoQ 4 takes this further and also introduces support for Indic languages. We are introducing a very advanced multi-tier undo/redo logic, real-time spell checking and other minor improvements. The quality assurance checks have also been dramatically improved and also the interface for fixing warnings has been fine-tuned.

And I failed to mention so many things! memoQ 4 is the single biggest upgrade memoQ ever received.

[Nick] For non-memoQ users, could you give us the main reasons to switch to memoQ 4?

[István] Because other people do and they are happy about it! 🙂 Just like every company, we make mistakes at times but there has not been any single case that anybody asked for a refund. Seriously, I think the main reasons to switch to memoQ are collaboration, interoperability and support. memoQ is a truly collaborative application, it is one of the few tools that enable simultaneous translation and proofreading on the same document, complete configuration of projects for your translators, or using several translation memories or term bases that can be local, remote — they can even be on different servers — or offline synchronized. The server is fast even on a HSDPA connection and it’s also very affordable – no wonder we have over 150 servers out there.

The other important aspect is interoperability. Our main market is language service providers, and an LSP can never say that they use only a single tool, period, otherwise they lose business and what’s more, they can also lose translators. With memoQ you can process documents and packages created by other tools, and you can prepare packages in industry-standard formats for other tools too. Therefore you don’t find yourself in a situation that you bought the tool because you liked it and then you have to fight with everyone around you to make it accepted.

And the third most important aspect is support. I think Kilgray’s support is just great – fast, focused and friendly.

[Nick] What is the pricing structure for memoQ 4?
What are the different Editions of memoQ 4?

[István] memoQ 4 comes in three client editions: translator standard, translator pro and project manager.

memoQ translator standard is for those translators who never work in teams. It does not enable access to servers and does not enable export of files into XLIFF or bilingual DOC, only memoQ’s proprietary MBD format. It also lacks the ContexTM (101%) matching which takes the context also into account, and comes without support. But the price tag is attractive: 99 euros a year.

The memoQ translator pro is the edition for professional translators and very small translation companies who don’t want to invest into a server solution. It costs 620 euros.

The memoQ project management edition comes with multilingual project management and reporting functionality and we charge around a thousand euros for that.

When it comes to server technology, we sell our solution with mobile (ELM or floating) licenses, meaning that companies can give away and take back licenses to translators over the internet. The initial package contains five mobile licenses, and we sell additional bundles of five licenses at very competitive prices. When it comes to servers, we prefer not to sell without a trial period of 30 days – we want everybody to use the tool, not just buy it for the drawer.

[Nick] How did you take into consideration user feedback during the development of memoQ 4?

[István] Oh I could name the people who contributed with their user feedback here! I think it’s worth mentioning how we work. Basically there are four people who decide on what gets into the next release, and every release has a theme. These themes are contained in our 5-year roadmap and we regularly come together for things that we call “walk in the woods”‘ – creative sessions outside the office where we discuss the main ideas and concepts. We personally talk a lot with users and try to learn the rationale behind their feature requests. These talks shape the main themes/features a lot. On top of that, we have a system to archive all the threads on feature requests, and we go through these regularly. I could give you a rather precise list of features for the next three versions!

So basically the user feedback is taken into consideration on two levels: when we realize that a business problem is hard to solve with memoQ, we incorporate the solution into the high-level concepts. The other level is the feature level where for example users request amendments to file filters or suggest small usability improvements. If these are justified, these can go straight into the feature overview.

[Nick] How is Terminology Management undertaken in memoQ 4? What are the Termbase formats supported?

[István] Terminology management is one of the most controversial components in memoQ! So far we only support CSV and – surprise-surprise – TMX as import formats and can also export into Multiterm XML. Why TMX? Just think about software localization and then the help and you’ll understand. With memoQ we decided that this is a translation tool and not a terminology application, and therefore we gave a finite set of attributes but something that is pretty comprehensive: you can have synonyms, definitions, notes, grammatical information, contexts, project, domain, subject, client information, and a few other fields. You can also have images in the term base, and forbidden term variants can also be flagged. From the workflow point of view, memoQ has had a term base moderation feature since v2.0 in 2006, which means that terminologists may need to approve all terms suggested by translators before they become final. Terminology matching is really exciting: you can use wildcards to indicate the end of the invariable part of every word in a term, i.e. for a language like Spanish you can enter cinturón* de seguridad and that will also find cinturónes de seguridad. For translators of Slavic languages this is really crucial (fuzzy matching does not always work for terms). I can list quite a few pros for memoQ’s terminology management but I must say that it’s a very practical approach. However, we understand that corporate terminology management is not a subset of translation, and terminologists may need some more freedom.

Expect that freedom in a third-party tool based on the memoQ engine soon.

[Nick] Is there anything specific to memoQ in the way Translation Memories are created and maintained?

[István] Translation memories are by default context-enabled in memoQ, and memoQ supports two kinds of contexts: the segment before and after and context bound to structural information. This latter means that if you have for example the software strings in an XML or Excel file, with an attribute indicating where the text appears, you will get a 101% match if the attribute is the same to the attribute where you originally entered this translation – this way you can shuffle the translatable strings and still keep the context information. If you speak the Idiom lingo, this is very similar to ICE and SPICE matching.

As for maintenance, there are a couple of things that are quite unique. First, a 100% or 101% match for us is only a match that is identical both in content and formatting to the original. But we have a special bracket, 95-99% that contains segments where numbers, formatting, whitespaces, punctuation marks can be different. Any change in the text results in something lower than that. You can join and split segments wherever you want, and when you get an update to the document, the TM-driven segmentation will automatically join and split the segments according to your previous translation, as it looks into the translation memory for better matches through joining and splitting. During pre-translation, cases where you get multiple 100% matches (because you translated the segment differently in two contexts, and this third context is unknown so far) are flagged and they are very easy to locate. All these features fall under the umbrella term we use for design: “reproducibility”. I think it’s also worth mentioning that memoQ has a built-in TM editor and can work with as many TMs at a time as you wish. Oh, and yes, a minor nuance, just to make things elegant and please those who are really tech-savvy: our support for TMX also covers attributes, so if you import a TMX file coming from another tool that has attributes, even if the TMX attributes there cannot be displayed in memoQ, you can expect that the TMX export from memoQ will preserve and contain them – so memoQ does not swallow the information that it cannot process.

[Nick] Is there any new feature in memoQ 4 you are particularly fond or proud off? Maybe some anecdote about features which took you a lot of efforts to achieve and which you are now very happy to bring to memoQ 4 users?

[István] Well, I’m a person who prefers the big picture to the small details, and for me the biggest achievement – and a big praise goes to Gábor Ugray, our head of development who designed these features – is that the tool did not get more complicated for translators according to the feedback of those users whom we showed the system. We always pay a lot of attention to the user interface, but when we started conceptualizing memoQ 4 about two years ago, keeping its simplicity seemed like a daunting task. The visual marker of the entire resource management and multilingual project management feature is now just two drop-down lists: the server selector and the language selector. And I am of course proud of the fact that the resource concept makes the entire system future-proof – no matter what sort of a linguistic resource comes into existence in the next years, we’ve got a place for it, and savvy users are also welcome to write third-party resource managers.

[Nick] We are seeing a merging trend where tools are less specific to either software or documentation. This is partly due to the content types evolution, and partly to an effort by tool developers to become more all encompassing. How does memoQ fit into this? How is your support for software localisation? Also xml and xliff?

[István] I saw this very much in 2005 when we started off but I don’t see it that much anymore. About a year ago or so we implemented visual localization support for RESX files and quite a few users are using it, but we have no plans to implement visual localization for other formats such as RC or binary files. On the other hand there are quite a few considerations in memoQ that make it a very good tool for localizing Help content. I already mentioned the TMX import into the term base and the support for context based on another column in the Excel file or an attribute in the XML file, I’d like to mention the automated concordancing feature that was inspired by one of our translation jobs – in our earlier lives as translators – where TM management (another issue I could talk about for hours) was virtually non-existent. I don’t want to name the end-client and the LSP we got this from (they are both very reputable and well-known in localization), but basically to translate the help of version 8 of a well-known application we only got a TM that contained version 2 to 7 of the same application. No terminology, no localized software strings for version 8, nothing. We spent hours to find out what screen caption has been translated before and what expressions did we have to coin, because – as it is with software – quite a few of them were 8-10 words long, and of course developers make changes to these every now and then, changing one or two words maximum, adding a few words to the end, etc. The automated concordance automates this manual process: it automatically gives you the longest multiword expressions that appear at least a given number of times in the translation memory. It does not give you the translation in most cases, but if you select it, it opens the concordance window with the right expressions. And yes, the concordance can look for a series of words. So basically we don’t want to take away business from the excellent software localization tools, but we definitely want to be the best technology for translating help and manuals.

[Nick] Do memoQ and Kilgray offer workflow technology allowing supplier and clients in the localisation chain to work together online?

[István] Our workflow is a linguistic one, and not a highly structured one. We coined two terms. For us, horizontal workflow means when people work together on the same task. Vertical workflow is the traditional workflow, passing along the files between different people doing different jobs. memoQ is excellent in helping people work together on the same task and has a lot of workflow tools such as moderated term bases, simultaneous translation and proofreading, different forms of review, communication and knowledge bases, etc. From the point of view of traditional workflows, we only cover translation and review – items that happen within the tool. There’s no way to integrate things like source text review, DTP or settlements into memoQ. However, the extensive set of APIs enable integration with workflow tools, and at this point I have to mention that both Beetext Flow and Plunet Business Manager do a great job when it comes to deep integration. They can both take care of the entire process, and generate and maintain the projects automatically in memoQ. One of the things we are putting a lot of emphasis on nowadays is client review. I think memoQ is one of the best tools for this, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

[Nick] Could you say a few words about the memoQ support network? How can new users avail of the experience of other users and if necessary receive support from Kilgray directly?

[István] Here are a couple of interesting resources: http://rc.kilgray.com – the Resource Center that contains training videos, guides, filter configurations for XML-based file formats, but also interesting articles on general topics such as TM management, technology purchase pitfalls, etc. for people and companies not using memoQ.

The memoQ Yahoo! Group (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MemoQ/) offers the expertise of other users but we also contribute often, and hey, you have the best experts of the competition also there and they often contribute too.

There is a memoQ wikibook too, and the forums on proz.com and other sites can also be interesting.

If direct support is required, it’s primarily through our support email address – please don’t publish the address directly on your website, we don’t want more spam there, but it’s at kilgray.com.

[Nick] Is it too early to ask you about roadmap? What are you plans for memoQ?

[István] It’s not too early at all, but I’m afraid I can’t tell much about the big improvements at this point. One thing is for sure – after 4.0, we will relax a bit and iron out any rough edges that may have remained in this brand new tool. One of the things that many users asked for and will be there in 4.1 (or whatever the final version number will be) is the bilingual DOC table format for review with comments. But one thing is for sure, you can expect another major version with a huge new resource in 2010.

[Nick] This has been a very informative interview. I thank you for your time and detailed answers and look forward to reviewing memoQ4 in the new year!

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