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.
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. 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
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