Localization, Localisation

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

Posts Tagged ‘SDL TMS 2007’

SDL TMS 2011: Inner Peace

Posted by Nick Peris on June 28, 2011

The pace of release of Enterprise Technology such as Workflow and Translation Management Systems is usually slower than that of end-user applications such as CAT tools.

The reasons for this are easy to understand:

First, the priority for Enterprise Applications is stability, not cutting-edge User Experience. Users, and especially customers, require proven and sturdy environments capable of consistently handling massive traffic. This cannot be compromised in favour of the latest UI bells and whistles, not even the newest linguistic asset formats or features.

Secondly, the licensing and pricing model for these applications is such that customers have to monitor their ROI more carefully. Purchasing decisions would not be influenced with yearly or even bi-yearly releases of brand new product lines. The expectation is that these Applications provide a permanent Solution which can be used for several years to come. For that reason, Support contracts tend to include free Patches and even Service Pack upgrades which take care of the more pressing updates.

Last but not least, the efforts required in deploying these server-based technologies are again prohibitive of frequent upgrades. There are  infrastructure implications like matching SQL server versions or multiple server roll-out workload. The technology also needs to co-exist with a number of desktop applications in use in the supply chain.

From reading the SDL TMS 2011 Release Notes, I think the differences with its predecessor, SDL TMS 2007, are very much inline with these requirements. It seems to deliver relevant compatibility updates as well as promising improvements in usability and performance. If the announced increased reliability delivers, then I think one of the key to its success over SDL TMS 2007, will be whether it succeeds at making linguists more willing to work online, or whether they will continue to prefer to use it for File Transfer only and perform the actual linguistic work in their desktop CAT tools.   SDL TMS 2011 Carbon Theme

Compatibiliy

This is the first major release of SDL TMS since the acquisition of Idiom by SDL back in 2008. Together with the recent release of SDL Worlserver 2011, this confirms that in the short to medium term at least, these two Workflow systems will continue to coexist.

The SDL TMS offering features updated compatibility both in terms of CAT tools and infrastructure:

  • CAT: SDL Trados Studio 2009 SP3, SDL MultiTerm 2009 SP3/SP4, SDL Passolo 2011 (incl. word counts accurracy, new dedicated Workflows) and SDL Trisoft
  • Infrastructure: LDAP enhancements, Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 support

SDL TMS can be upgraded to version 2011, though only from SDL TMS 2007 SP4 or later. SP4 would have to be installed first, before upgrading from any older version.

One piece of good news is that no data migration is required when upgrading, and all Post-SP4 hotfixes are included in the Upgrader. Microsoft .NET Framework 4 is recommended. 

Usability and Performance

The User Interface has reportedly been made more responsive in several areas: Translation Interface, Job Authorisation, Configuration edits and more. The UI has been updated with a new colour theme, but apart from that the navigation appears to be unchanged.SDL TMS 2011 Go to Dialog We will investigate in an upcoming article how this may be changed by the addition of SDL Studio Online. SDL Studio Online is an optional web-based version of SDL Trados Studio 2011, exclusive to SDL TMS 2011 SP1.

The Search feature has also been improved with increased speed for the main Search (results are now limited to 2,000 matches) and a new “Go to” feature lets users directly open specific Jobs or Tasks if they know the ID.

SDL Trados Studio can now access SDL TMS directly for TM Concordance and updates. This is achieved through an SDL Open Exchange plug-in. Once installed, users simply need to login using the SDL TMS Server Name, Username and Password, much like previously in SDLX’s SDL Maintain.

Unfortunately, Tageditor’s TTX files can’t be downloaded from SDL TMS 2011.  SDL recommend downloading Packages, which contain the ITD files for translation in either SDLX 2007 or SDL Trados Studio 2009. Eventhough SDLX is considered a part of SDL Trados 2007, this makes using Tageditor and Workbench more difficult and more-or-less means support for Trados 2007 in SDL TMS has been dropped.

Terminology imports have been enabled through a new functionality similar to the TM import added with SDL TMS 2007 SP4. This works using SDL MultiTerm .xml import files and a matching database definition. Passolo Terminology (sequences and TB updates) is also supported.

Here are a few other bug fixes and new features which caught my attention:

  • Users can reset their own passwords, which should improve the quality of life of many Workflow managers
  • Issues with the second and further pages of the Translation Interface have been fixed (comments, segment history and MultiTerm matches now work)
  • TM attributes can be edited from the Edit TM page
  • Ampersand(&) and quotes(‘) in ITD names are allowed
  • Job-level Project TM availability can be displayed in the Inbox
  • PowerPoint SmartArt is supported

Reliability

SDL claim that over 200 reported issues have been resolved, including a number reported by users through ideas.sdl.com.

Improvements in file format support and exception handling should limit the number of failed Jobs and Tasks.

Importantly, progress seems to have been made with Translation Memories exports. A new incremental method, saves having to use server resources to repeatedly perform full exports. This Incremental TM Export option, which is unchecked by default after installation, functions as follows:

  • Only segments added or modified since the last export are exported.
  • They are added to the latest corresponding TMX export file.
  • All TMX export files can be downloaded at once.
  • Note: segments deleted from the TM are not removed from the export. A full export (by temporarilly unchecking the Incremental Export box) is required to reflect any deletion
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SDL TMS 2007 Service Pack 4: Love and Hate

Posted by Nick Peris on June 1, 2010

SDL TMS 2007 - Localisation workflow

I always find it challenging to get a fair idea of what Enterprise tools can do before making a purchase decision. There is so much involved in setting them up that even if a trial version is available, the efforts required to perform meaningful testing are prohibitive.

Many such applications do not come ready out-of-the-box and require extensive customisation before they can be tailored to fit a specific business model.

This is why many purchase decisions are executive decisions, based on ROI reports and presentations showing what the software does. A demo might be setup for you on a dedicated server by the sales person, and you’ll be left thinking “hum…surely it’s not that simple”. This is also why 10 times out of 10, these pieces of software come with a Support package which lets you install regular and much needed updates and bug fixes.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

If you have the opportunity, go knock on a few door and try to find a company nearby which uses the software in a production environment. Contact them, ask to visit, get an independent demo. From my experience (not based on TMS that time) most people will be more than happy to tell you how much effort it took to setup, how many features still don’t work, but also how much their productivity has really increased and perhaps even how many of their employees have done a thesis on the subject! Bottom line: get real-life advice!

SDL TMS, or Translation Management System, is one such behemoth application. Trying to find independent information about TMS on the web is a challenge. In fact, even finding official information can prove frustrating. As for Special Interest Groups… those I found were for customers-only. It seems it’s buy first, we’ll talk later.

So what’s the big deal exactly? Well I’ve been working with TMS 2007 for about a year now and I have a few things to report: some good, some not so good.

What it does well

Let’s start with positive thoughts.

TMS is a workflow tool, designed to connect a customer directly to it localisation vendors and all their armies of sub vendors. It handles big volumes and short turnarounds really well, and is reasonably good at supporting your Translation Memory and Terminology Management needs. It also offers the reporting facilities necessary for all members of your localisation ecosystem to invoice each other, and you.

TMS automates part of the role of the middle men, and is ideal for localisation consumers with a constant stream of translation, especially if they come in the shape of numerous small projects.

Multiple alternative workflows can be set up, depending on vendor selection, TMs to leverage against, TMs to update, need for Linguistic Review etc. Once the correct workflow is selected at the job creation stage, you can be sure it will go through all the steps required. There is little or no human error possible, at least not in scheduling and assigning tasks to the right participant.

TM updates are handled automatically, literally seconds after the last human input in the workflow.

Where it lacks

So are all the vendors really gathering orderly around the assembly line and localising thereafter like a happy family?

Not exactly. There are a few snags.

My main grief is around TM Maintenance or the lack of it. Because TMS automatically updates the Translation Memories at whatever stage of your workflow you told it to, manual editing of the TMs has been neglected. A user can perform a Concordance search, but it is impossible to edit the Translation Units found. One cannot use TMS to fix inherited inconsistencies or any error found in legacy TUs.

This makes implementing Global changes a very untidy task: one needs to connect to the TM Server (hosted by SDL in most cases) using SDLX 2007 Professional. This, to me is total non-sense and here is why:

  1. increasingly, the business model in Localisation is outsourcing.
  2. once localisation is outsourced to agencies, these subcontract Single Language Vendors, who themselves might only be sub-contracting to freelancers.
  3. less and less Localisation consumers employ in-house linguists.
  4. their remaining in-country staff is Sales and Marketing, and has much more pressing matters to attend than editing TMs.

Now which version are these freelancers more likely to have? SDLX 2007 Professional (€2,995) or SDLX 2007 Freelance (€760)? I think you probably guessed it. SDL’s licensing model prevents linguists from maintaining TMs in TMS and seemingly forces corporations which bought TMS to support their outsourcing setup, to fix TMs in-house!

There are some workarounds to this, but for a piece of software of this caliber, I think this is a pretty shocking limitation.

The integration with MultiTerm has similar issues: only some of the functionality are available through TMS, the rest including editing Term entries has to be done using MultiTerm Online or Desktop.

Performance issues also tend to drive a lot of linguists offline! Depending on their setup, a lot of them find it more efficient to download jobs, translate offline in SDLX and upload the finished work back into TMS. While there is technically no difference in the end result, this is a disappointing interruption of the workflow.

Service Pack 4: An End to the Suffering?

Squeezing under the gate at the last second, like Bruce Willis in a classic movie, TMS 2007 Service Pack 4 sneaks in before the long-awaited SDL TMS 2010 and comes to the rescue.

With TMS 2010 now possibly slipping into 2011, it is a welcomed addition particularly due to the improvements it brings. Here are the most significant end-user facing features:

Browser support: IE 8 support added (IE 6 removed in future)

TM import: ITD, zipped ITDs, MDB (SDLX TMs). This is a partial solution to the lack of TM Maintenance feature I’ve talked about in this article.

Continued lack of support for TMX is attributed to the fact that this open-source format has too many proprietary specifications.

Reporting formats added: CSV, Excel 2007, PDF, RTF, Word 2007.

Branding and Fonts are customisable (by Professional Services).

TMS 2010 is expected to have end-user customisable reports.

Segment level QA Model for Reviewer grading

QA Models

This all-new feature in SP4 is crucial if your workflow includes Linguistic Review. All changes made by the Reviewers are now recorded, and the Reviewers can tag them using customisable Error Rating and Categories.

  1. Error Ratings and Categories: support for LISA model, SAE J2450, TMS classic out-of-the-box.
  2. User-specific models can be created. Number of points deducted can also be specified in the QA Model.
  3. Records can be retained at segment (for feedback to translators) or project level
  4. Scoring methods: absolute or percentage
  5. To apply a QA Model: add it to a Configuration (i.e workflow), and it will be available to Reviewers working on jobs passed through this config.
  6. Reviewer usage: click Star at segment level to open the QA model window and enter Category and Rating.Pass/Fail status does not prevent reviewer from submitting or rejecting a job.

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