SDL have been drumming up interest for SDL Trados Studio 2011 through the summer. Eventhough the successor to SDL Trados Studio 2009 is announced to release at the end of September, I must admit that I have been slower to turn my attention to it than I was with Studio 2009.
This is in part due to my current occupation which brings me to spend more time using Translation Management Systems than CAT tools. But it is also because SDL Trados Studio 2009 was such an exciting breakthrough: the idea of fully integrating SDLX, Trados and Synergy was a major shift. The technology behind the new Studio file formats (.sdlxliff bilingual files, .sdltm Translation Memories, and .sdltb Term database) was also quite promising. Lastly, the productivity improvements were many thanks to the entirely new xml-based TM engine, which allows multiple TMs look-ups, AutoPropagation™, AutoSuggest™, QuickPlace™, Real-Time Preview etc.
Reading through those posts about SDL Trados Studio 2009 reminds me how attractive it seemed. But there was also a distinct possibility that this substantial innovation would not necessarily cause a mass migration of Trados 2007 users. Budgets were tight due to the worldwide recession. The prospect of migrating entire Localisation production chains seemed like an unnecessary overhead. Users would have to be re-trained, Enterprise and LSP proprietary automation redesigned in order to work with those new file formats. Above all, SDL Trados 2007 was delivering perfectly acceptable services.
Sure enough, two years later, empirical evidence suggests Trados 2007 is alive and well. It is apparent in my daily interaction with Localisation professional around the World. All Trados users are aware of Studio by now, but I’d venture to say all of them still have Trados 2007 installed, and that it probably even remains their SDL tool of choice. Assuming the hits on Localization, Localisation have any statistical value, it is a telling sign that SDL Trados 2007: Quick Guide for the Complete Beginner continues to be the most frequently visited post in these pages, 2.5 years after being posted. But then perhaps that’s my own fault, for not making a beginner’s guide to Studio 2009…
So let’s now turn to the future and look at SDL Trados Studio 2011’s prospects. New comers to the CAT tools market will inevitably consider Trados as one of their options; which new features it offers does not matter much. As for existing Studio 2009 users, I doubt any amount of innovation can make them upgrade if they haven’t already a budget or subscription plan which allows for systematic upgrades. The real measure of the impact of Studio 2011 will be whether it can convince the remaining Trados 2007 users.
What does SDL Trados Studio 2011 bring to the table to meet the needs of this demographic?
Some New Features
All the great advances made with Studio 2009 are of course still available, although some of them have matured. The main highlights in terms of novelty are the return of Perfect Match and the focus on productivity during review cycles.
Perfect match 2.0
Perfect Match makes a return to Trados: it existed in Trados 2007 but was absent in Studio until now. It now co-exists with Context Match, and together with Terminology and Sub-Segment leveraging make up the concept of Total Leveraging.
The differences between Perfect and Context Matches are:
- Perfect Match can run on a batch of files (right-click a bilingual file to pre-translate and select Batch Tasks > Perfect Match) and is good for Project rather than document updates.
- SDLXLIFF, TTX and ITD are all supported.
- Context Match runs on successive versions of the same file, file names have to match.
- They are marked as PM and CM respectively in the resulting bilingual files. Both segment types are locked.
Studio 2011 uses a change tracking technology which is fully compatible with Microsoft Word. Thanks to the SDL XLIFF Converter, an SDL Open Exchange add-on now included in Studio, changes and comments made in Trados can be viewed, accepted etc. in Microsoft Word and vice versa.
This makes it easy to collaborate with users who do not have Studio during the review process. Whether they are linguists using other CAT tools or Subject Matter Experts not familiar with any CAT tool, they will all be able to input their feedback using Word.
The versions of Word officially supported are 2007 and 2010; 2003 should work but this is unconfirmed for now. Track Changes can be turned on or off for different parts of the process such as Translation, Review or Signoff under Options > Tools.
In Trados Studio, segments can be filtered to show only those relevant to the current task. The filters in this list are another way Studio 2011 helps productivity during review, with new options such as Segments with Comments or Segments with Track Changes. These filters can also be applied during export using the SDL XLIFF Converter.
Improved Spell Checkers
Trados Studio 2011 brings the Microsoft Spell Checker back. Hunspell is still available but users can now configure which checker to use for each language. This is to resolve issues present in the Studio 2009 Spell Checkers which were not fully accurate for certain languages, notably Scandinavian ones.
QA Checker 3’s claim to fame is the interactive dialog box which makes reviewing and implementing reported issues a much clearer process. It is reportedly also a first step in longer term plans of adding grammar checks.
Enhanced File Filters
Studio 2011 includes new filters for:
- OpenOffice, Libre Office, StarOffice and IBM Lotus Symphony.
- INX and Java properties.
- improved FrameMaker MIF support.
- bilingual Word files which can now be edited directly.
Other novelties to discover in Trados Studio 2011 include pseudo-translation, for testing parsing rules and settings before the launch of new Project Types. Character, rather than just wordcount is now also available.
An Evolving Image
Lighter Ownership Experience
First impressions tend to last, and the installation and activation process are a big part of how a new application is experienced by users. In Studio 2011 the installation is made simpler. One single installer enables compatibility with Trados 2007 file formats (.ttx, .itd, TM upgrades and alignment tasks). With TTXit!, freely available on SDL Open Exchange, users should no longer need a copy of Trados 2007 in addition to Studio.
Because the user interface and technology in Studio 2011 are so similar to Studio 2009, no big learning curve is required. Any time and effort invested in learning to use Studio will just give users a head start in being proficient at the new version.
The standalone License Manager has been replaced. Activation is now fully integrated into Studio, and borrowing licenses are supported.
Finally, the SDL Multiterm Widget is being pushed into the limelight. This taskbar tool lets you browse Terminology from external applications like Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint etc. at the touch of a button. It also provides a handy shortcut to searches in Google or Wikipedia and is now included in Trados Studio.
Expanding the Trados Community
Technology webinars have been an SDL strength for a long time now. Call it free education or a carbon-conscious alternative to business trips, they are an efficient way for any technology vendor to showcase their goods.
There are other ways SDL share information about Trados like the Studio 2011 Series on the SDL Blog, or the SDL Trados Youtube channel. SDL are certainly not the only language technology provider to use new media but I think it’s fair to mention their consistent effort to meet their user community and ensure information is widely available.
SDL OpenExchange is also used to promote this spirit of community with Developers (look out for prize competitions!) and has produced a number commercial as well as free Apps which efficiently respond to very specific needs.
The connectivity with SDL’s Enterprise applications is also kept up to date. Studio 2011 can connect to WorldServer or TMS Translation Memories for Concordance just like it would with local TMs. An Express Edition of Studio 2011 will be released for users who need Studio only for WorldServer projects.