Localization, Localisation

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Posts Tagged ‘TM’

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.

Posted in Interviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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 »

SDL Trados Studio 2011 Preview: Can It Convince Trados 2007 Faithfuls?

Posted by Nick Peris on September 20, 2011

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.

Track changes

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.

Display FiltersSDL Trados Studio 2011 Display Filters

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.

SDL Trados Studio 2011 QA Checker 3QA Checker 3.0

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.

SDL Trados Studio 2011 MultiTerm WidgetStarting a project itself is a simpler process, with only 3 files needed (source, bilingual and TM), and no associated folder structure in the background.

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.

Posted in News, SDL Trados Studio 2011 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Offline TM Update Process for SDL TMS

Posted by Nick Peris on July 19, 2011

SDLX Dashboard

While this is as efficient as one could expect, there are cases where “manual” updates of the online TMs must be performed. A Terminology change may have to be implemented globally into legacy TUs. A linguist may be asked to perform an offline clean-up of an overgrown or aging TM, and the resulting file may have to be imported back into the online TM. Audits may be conducted on live content and also require manual edits of the online TMs, etc.

In most cases, these edits will need to be performed by accessing the remote TMs using SDLX rather than SDL TMS 2007.  This is because SDL TMS doesn’t let linguists directly edit TMs, as I previously explained. The present post describes the step-by-step process to update TMs hosted on an SDL TMS 2007 server, using SDLX 2007. It can be used by linguists such as Translators, Reviewers or Language Leads or by Engineers depending on who in the process is in charge of implementing manual edits such as global updates or imports.Adding the SDLX Server Object

Prerequisites:

  1. SDLX 2007 Professional: no access to remote TM Servers is possible for SDLX Light or Freelancer users.
  2. TM Editing rights have to be granted to the users by the SDL TMS Administrator

Process:Opening a TM located on an SDLX Server

  1. Got to Start – All Programs – SDL International – SDL Trados 2007 – SDLX and start SDLX
  2. In the SDLX Dashboard, click Maintain
  3. In SDL Maintain, go to Tools – Options – Advanced – Object Management, click SDLX server and OK. Click OK again to close the SDL Maintain options dialog (this step is only required the first time you connect to an SDLX server)
  4. In SDL Maintain, click TM – Open – SDLX ServerSelecting the SDLX Server
  5. In the Select SDLX Server dialog, click Add and enter your SDL TMS server connection details
  6. Once the connection is established, open the Translation Memories drop down menu and select the TM to edit. Click OK twice to validate your choice and close all dialog boxes.
  7. Once the TM is loaded:
    1. Perform Text Searches by pressing F7 and edit as required (this is faster than using Find)
    2. Or import into the TM by clicking TM- Import
    3. Save and Close the TM when completedAdd SLDX server

Posted in SDL TMS, Translation Management Systems | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

SDL Studio Online 2011: the New Face of TMS

Posted by Nick Peris on July 12, 2011

Hot on the heels of SDL TMS 2011 which was recently reviewed here, SDL Technologies released SDL Studio Online 2011.

In a nutshell, SDL Studio Online 2011 is an optional add-on exclusive to SDL TMS 2011. It is distributed as part of the SDL TMS  2011 Service Pack 1 and upgrades the SDL TMS Translator Interface. While SDL TMS 2011 introduced a new Carbon Theme, its Translator Interface was in fact still a slim version of SDLX 2007. SDL Studio Online 2011 replaces it with an SDL Trados Studio inspired successor.

From a linguist’s point a view this is an important leap forward. Together with the performance improvements promised with the original release of SDL TMS 2011, this could significantly increase the proportion of linguists working online. Translators, and sometimes even Reviewers, have tended to choose to download SDL TMS packages rather than working online. This somewhat defeats the purpose of having an online translation environment with real-time TM and Terminology updates capabilities. Yet it has remained a popular choice mainly for two reasons:

  1. Combined server and user-side performance issues: this should already improve with an upgrade to the original SDL TMS 2011.
  2. Translation Interface too basic compared to desktop CAT tools: this is what this optional SDL TMS 2011 SP1 add-on proposes to address

SDL Studio Online in SDL TMS 2011Studio Online provides a number of tangible improvements over the standard Translation Interface:

  • Improved performance for linguists working online with the more modern interface featuring:
    • Segment-level lookup
    • Concordance lookup
    • Flexible tag display and editing
    • Find and replace functionality across the entire task
    • Integral spell checking with Inline and batch spell checking, multilingual dictionary and correction and user-specific dictionaries.
  • Reduced need for training and support for the growing number of linguists unfamiliar with SDLX
  • Reduced file management overhead thanks to a more attractive online environment
  • Increased proportion of linguists connecting to online linguistic assets rather than working from periodic downloads
  • Licensing and upgrade management owned by the client
  • Support for Microsoft input method editors (IMEs) for typing East Asian characters on non-matching language versions of Office.

Requirements and setup information

Studio Online is a Microsoft Silverlight plug-in. It requires Microsoft Silverlight 4 and the latest available Service Pack for Windows. Its upgrade or installation process is guided in Studio Online.

Other requirements are Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, 7.0, or 8.0 and Mozilla Firefox 3.5 or 3.6.

Enabling SDL Studio OnlineStudio Online Licenses have to be purchased in addition to the SDL TMS licenses for a specific number of concurrent users. Once installed and licensed, each user may choose to configure SDL Studio Online as their default editor in SDL TMS by going to Home – My Details – User Preferences and checking the option Use SDL Studio Online (see screenshot). This remains optional, so not all users have to make this choice. Task download for offline work also remains available in any case.

One limitation to note is that SDL Studio Online 2011 does not integrate with the QA Models. If you have made use of the online rating function added since SDL TMS 2007 SP4, you will have to make a choice between that and the new online interface. My inclination would be towards allowing the Translators to use Studio Online to make it more acceptable for them to stay online throughout the translation process. On another hand, Reviewers could continue using the old interface so that they use the QA Model, and so that you save on Studio Online licenses.

Posted in News, SDL TMS, Translation Management Systems | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Kilgray TM repository: a New Home for Translation Memories

Posted by Nick Peris on July 5, 2011

Kilgray TM repositoryAs Kilgray Technologies made memoQ 5.0 Release Candidate available for download right on queue last week, there is another piece of Kilgray news I’d like to share with you.

The lesser-known but aptly named TM repository was launched recently by the makers of memoQ and offers an interesting and fresh approach to Translation Memory server products. This application apparently pre-dates memoQ but wasn’t launched commercially until this year. Since then, Kilgray have been gathering early adopters feedback, which they are planning to include in a version 2 sometime next year.

TM repository is made-up of 3 components: the database, the business logic and the web-based interface. It is built on SQL technology and comes in 2 editions depending on the number of users required.TM repository Importing Sessions

The idea behind any TM server product is to provide a central location where all users in a supply chain can access the same and latest version of Translation Memories. Different Localisation Managers have different TM Strategies which are often dependent on the CAT tools or even the version of the CAT Tools in use by the Assets owner and their LSPs. Important choices have to be made in terms of Maintenance, most of which have to do with how best to archive TMs for re-use. Working from project-specific TMs only gives smaller leveraging power and little version control ability.  Yet it is sometimes the chosen path, simply because it seems more manageable. On another hand building and maintaining Master TMs containing all segments ever translated, or even chunks of them organised by Product lines, Business Units etc. requires a sustained management effort. For instance, when there are terminology updates a linguist should implement global changes by batch editing Translation Units. They may spend time fixing old Translation Units (TUs) which will never be used again. It may also be difficult to find linguists with the skills to directly edit the TMs for all languages. More often than not, Master TMs which are not integrated with a Translation Management System will contain errors, deprecated terms, duplicate TUs with alternative translations etc. and require clean-up. The Project TMs-only route will always underperform in terms of ability to re-use existing translations and ensure consistency, but the Assets owner are still left to evaluate for themselves which option is the best for them.TM repository Maintenance Sessions

TM repository is a solution to a lot of these common problems:

    • It enables the Assets owner to create a single Online TM Database containing all TUs, for all projects, and all language pairs.
    • The flexible descriptive fields (metadata) allow the TU’s to be tagged precisely.TM repository Queries 2
    • This metadata can then be used in Queries for smart filtering during Maintenance or Export
    • TMX Imports let users add to the database from virtually any system
    • TMX Exports  permit the extraction of Project TMs, which can be reimported after use and update
    • Exports can be customised for the CAT tool in use through customisable Mapping. Query results (i.e. Project TMs) will contain metadata compatible with the target translation tool.TM repository Queries
    • Refined Maintenance is enabled through features such as Search and Replace of text or metadata, or the use of deprecation settings by which older TUs can be hidden from search results.

Posted in Kilgray, News, TM repository | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted in News, SDL TMS, Translation Management Systems | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

memoQ 5.0: Mr. Q Brings Change Management to the Localisation Continuum

Posted by Nick Peris on June 21, 2011

 
Mr.Q presents: memoQ 5.0!Kilgray Translation Technologies introduced memoQ 5.0 to the World last week by means of a twin event. Gábor Ugray, Head of Development, hosted a webinar from the Kilgray HQ in Budapest for the online enthusiasts, while István Lengyel, COO, demo’ed it live from the Localization World 2011 conference in Barcelona.

MemoQ 5.0 will be available as a public Release Candidate on June, 30 2011 and should reach Final Release within a few weeks of that.

The Release Candidate version can be installed side by side with memoQ 4.5 and various upgrade paths will be available to current memoQ users.

Following the strong focus on Project Management in memoQ 4, the philosophy behind memoQ 5.0 is Change Management. Changes in source files are better managed through X-translate, while segment changes are tracked through a sophisticated versioning system. Illustrated examples of this and other new features are detailed below.

memoQ 5.0 Version Tracking

X-translate

The implementation of Major/Minor version control is powerful because of the simplicity with which it responds to a real need. A Translator is working on a file, receives an update to the source file, thanks to memoQ 5.0’s Major versioning feature, he or she can immediately generate an updated version of their bilingual file and continue translating.

There is no need to leverage, which would require a more labor intensive process of pre-translating again from Translation Memories. One can simply go straight from a partially translated copy of version 1.0 to a partically translated copy of version2.0.

The screencaps below show how to xTranslate a single file from the previous Major version of the file, then how the  xTranslated segments are marked and finally how to save a snapshot of the resulting file.

xTranslate1xTranslate2xTranslate3

It is also possible to export a 2-column file for comparison of 2 Major versions:

Export 2 columns to HTMLSide by side compare

Change Tracking

Change tracking enables segment level access to previous versions. The following images show how to enable custom track changes from the Translation menu, how the changes are highlighted in a document, and a further 2 options for translators and reviewers to see changes made to a file since they last edited it.

Track ChangesTrack Changes Against BaseTrack Changes (Reviewers)Track Changes (Translators)

Terminology in memoQ 5.0

Terminology extraction

MemoQ 5.0 will allow a substantial amount of Terminology work without requiring the use of a dedicated application such as qTerm. Users will be able to extract candidate terms from a Project:

Extracting Candidate TermsTerm Extraction Progress

Stop Words

The use of Stop Words list will ensure easy noise reduction by preventing words such as “and”, “the”, or any other short listed by the user, from appearing as Candidate Terms:

Creating and Editing Stop Word Lists

Reviewing Candidate Terms

Candidate Terms can then be reviewed in context and possibly against an existing Termbase:

 Term Extraction ResultMerging Candidate TermsAccepted TermsDropped Terms

Lexicon

The Lexicon option will let you work with a Terms list without having to go through the full process of creating a Termbase. It is meant as an easy-to-use, immediately rewarding tool to manage Terminology within a Project. This should encourage Linguists to run quick Term extractions before starting a job, especially in cases where a Termbase is not available as part of the Handoff, in order to efficiently get a general overview of the Terms contained in a set of source files.

MemoQ 5.0’s Terminology feature does not support the TBX format, however Kilgray’s fully-fledged terminology tool qTerm, does.

memoQ 5.0 and nested file formats

Another very effective idea implemented in memoQ 5.0 is the support for file formats containing code belonging to other file formats. An obvious application is the case where the handoff is a spread sheet containing strings copied from an xml or a software file. But there are other common cases such as XML files containing HTML code.

The requirement here is to parse files twice so that all codes are recognised as such and so that the linguist can concentrate on translating with full confidence that all tagging is managed by the CAT tool. Here are 2 examples:

Cascading Filters

      1. Cascading Filters for a spread sheet contain HTML: 
        HTML code in XLS - ExcelHTML code in XLS - memoQ 5.0Reimport As to Apply Second FilterAdding a Cascading HTML FilterDocument Import SettingsSaving Filter Configuration for Re UseFully Parsed File
      2. Cascading Filters with Regex Tagger for a spread sheet containing UI strings: Run Regex Tagger to re-Parse XLS FileRegular Expression PatternsAdding Patterns to Configuration

Source Content connectors

Finally, memoQ 5.0 will also in time be able to connect to repositories where content is dynamically added. It is designed with CMS integration in mind, however the CMS connectors will only be released later this summer, like the web-based editor webTranslate.

Posted in Kilgray, memoQ, News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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 »

Cheap Translation Tech: Who does What…and for How Much?

Posted by Nick Peris on August 24, 2010

Rolling out old tools

Recession-buster CAT tool prices? Low-cost TM Tech? Scrappage scheme on Translation tools older than 2 years?

Subscription-based software rental or money-mental discount on SaaS?

No, the marketing slogans in the Translation Software industry haven’t been quite that exuberant. Yet the cash flow worries experienced by all the Translation Technology providers, have generated a certain amount of creativity especially when it comes to pricing. So if you’re on the market for a new CAT Tool, you should probably ask yourself: “Where is the best value for my discount?”

Clichés about the dark days we live in abound (including in this article…), and it is clear that no one would part lightly with hard-earned cash to buy a Translation Memory technology license. The truth is one can get such technology for as little as €0 and about as much as one has to spend. This may always have been the case, but what I think has changed is that market leaders can no longer rely on reputation, exposure and existing market penetration to comfortably roll-out the next generation of expensive technology.

Differentiating by offering compelling technological advances is no longer a bullet-proof strategy either. There are plenty of talented tool developers around who are ready to offer imaginative solutions for a modest fee. Features such as mobile phone-like predictive text will not prompt anyone to spend thousands, or even hundreds of Euro.

In fact, mainstream TM technology with all its bells and whistles is facing a problem similar to that of the automobile industry: the multitude of options and gadgets inflating the price of applications with constant update and patch requirements has left the market wide open for a good value yet sturdy alternative.

Though it is not a complete answer, a low-cost market for TM tech is developing as a consequence. Freelancers, Agencies and Corporations alike are no longer willing to spend on expensive licenses to buy software which will be outdated within a year or two. So offers started appearing where the license itself has an expiry date. Pay for a year and then decide what to do: renew, upgrade or move on.

The concept of software rental was set to run further of course: complete with the advances in software hosting, Cloud-computing, where the users connect to the application over the internet and does not need to install or setup anything on their own machine, it became SaaS: Software-as-a-Service. This is a trend much bigger than the Translation software industry alone, which offers many advantages such as seemless updates and crucially regular cash-flow for the provider. It also requires an important shift in the mentalities where ownership of the tool isn’t transferred to the Translator, while the ownership of the translation produced with it must remain with them.

All this put together means that we may have reached a fork in the road after which licensing models will be transformed: but which way will they go?

    Starter Edition, Translation Workspace, MemoQ, Deja Vu, Across, Wordfast

  • the unglamorous route of feature-reduced time-limited ownership
  • or the controversial path of rental, or Software-as-a-Service.

Both options at this point show serious limitations. The reaction of Professional Translators could be described as luke-warm at best. On one hand entry-level traditional licenses are too limiting to users who already own a fully-fledged copy of a previous version. On the other software rental has not yet earned the trust of the user-base, concerned with intellectual property questions and confusing price structures.

The table on the right-hand side (click to expand) highlights the strengths and weaknesses of some of these subscription-based low-cost CAT tools:

One thing I hope is sure: the days of paying hundreds of Euro for entry-level licenses are over in our industry, and that has to be a good thing.

If you are due an upgrade, it is most likely that there are good deals to be had on your favorite software provider’s site. If you are looking to invest in your first entry-level CAT tool however, spend some time analyzing your needs against what is on offer. Entry prices may be low, but the value and limitations varies widely from one tool to the next.

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SDL TMS 2007 SP4: Some Comments from SDL

Posted by Nick Peris on June 2, 2010

SDL TMS

Here are some interesting comments from Paul Harrap, Product Manager for TMS at SDL, in reply to my article on SDL TMS 2007 SP4. I’ve also included my own response afterwards.

“(…) I’m very pleased to see we’re getting some coverage in the blogosphere. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to write us up and your positive feedback on the product generally and our new SP4 specifically.

I accept that there’s still some work to do in the product with relation to TM maintenance. As your article accurately reflects, the contents of TMs are updated in TMS in very specific places in the workflow- typically after one or two cycles of review – and what content goes into which TM can be carefully controlled. This is very much by design. We see Translation Memory as the crown-jewel of the linguistic assets of the enterprise customer and so contents are tightly regulated by TMS.

However, we have to acknowledge that bad content can creep into TMs over time – there might be an error in review, or some customers might not review translations quite as thoroughly as others. The changes we made in SP4 to allow the import of files directly into TMs is a response to this requirement. The enterprise can now add/replace contents of a TM directly, without reference to a specific translation job or workflow, as an administrator-level function. This can allow people to quickly and painlessly correct known-bad TUs.

We’re considering including the ability to search through, browse and directly edit the TUs in the TMS browser environment in a future release. While I accept that this is a lacking feature, I wouldn’t concur that we should be putting such power in the hands of the vendor or the freelancer. Seeing the TM as a hugely valuable asset for the enterprise, I expect this is the sort of feature and capability that most enterprises would want to keep in-house.

On the integration with SDL MultiTerm, I very much see a distinction at the moment where TMS is a consumer of Terminology and MultiTerm is the owner of it. Over time we will see much tighter integrations between the SDL products, so the lines between TMS and MultiTerm will very much start to blur, and we have plans to introduce workflow capabilities for term lifecycle management.

On the issue of uploads and downloads and working offline, I think a lot of people would very much agree with you. The single largest corporate user of SDL TMS is… SDL! We have dozens of translation offices around the globe, all of whom deal with the upload and download of files to and from TMS servers based in our hosting centre in London on a daily basis. What tends to drive people offline is the featureset available in the desktop tools. SDL Trados Studio, and its predecessors SDL Trados TagEditor and SDLX, are very powerful productivity tools for the translator. Replicating these features in an online translation environment is a monumental task and it’s  something we are investigating.”

First of all, I would like to thank Paul for this input. Since the ramp up of Trados Studio over a year ago, SDL have made a sustained effort to listen to their user base. The TMS section proves here that they are keeping with this policy.

On the topic of TM Maintenance, which is very close to my heart, I think the business model Paul is presenting is either slightly outdated or, more likely, is missing on a part of their customer base.

From my experience, the outsourcing model has developed so much during this recession that at least in some cases, big enterprises (i.e. the TMS customers) no longer employ Translation Memory management experts. These positions are filled by technicians employed by the LSPs.

Another point is that while TMS customers use Review routinely, they also cannot afford to review all the content they output. Most of the big players have either implemented or are looking into models which allow them to reduce their review cost for languages where the quality is considered stable. This means that TMs may be updated in TMS with contents which hasn’t been reviewed, and consequently that linguists must regularly inspect the TMs and fix any inconsistencies in legacy TUs to prevent reoccurring errors.

I maintain that this task must be assigned to a linguist, and the best placed to do so is a senior Reviewer. Not all of these are in-house, by far.

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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.

Posted in News, SDL TMS, Translation Management Systems | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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!

Posted in Interviews, Kilgray, memoQ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

QA Distiller 7: Sanity Checks on Steroids

Posted by Nick Peris on November 17, 2009

QA Distiller is a great quality control tool I came across when I was working on the Marketing project I already mentioned in an article about XML in Localisation.
Developed and distributed by Yagamata Europe, this tool has a lot to offer to client-side engineers, multilingual vendors and freelancers alike. In fact I was even using it to enforce proper and consistent use of Terminology in source marketing content, before sending for localisation.

With the impending release of version 7 at the end of this month, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk about it on Loc Loc. The purpose of QA Distiller is to batch process quality checks on bilingual files. Essentially, it performs similar tasks to the QA Checker in Trados‘s TagEditor, but with some major differences.

The benefits

Multiple file processing: QA Distiller allows you to run a highly customizable list of checks on batches of files. There is no need to open of each individual TTX file, or run the QA Checker successively on each one. Just select the files to process, the settings to apply and run the tool to output a comprehensive report for your follow-up. This is a great way to control and enforce consistency across entire handoffs or projects. Translation quality, Terminology consistency etc. are simultaneously audited across all the files selected.

Multi-lingual processing: better yet, this can also be done across all languages at once, which is particularly powerful for controlling Do Not Translate instructions have been adhered to, for example.

Interactive reporting: the report output is another great selling point. It rates and classifies errors and lets you update it as you review and fix or discard candidate errors. It can be exported to a variety of formats where source, target and error details are summarised and categorised. This is very helpful to communicate with vendors on queries, as well as measure the quality od deliveries. Finally, the report has hyperlinks not only to the file, but to the actual segment where the potential error was detected. This makes the implementation of fixes really quick and easy. No more peeling your eyes out to find typos or endless finger-cramping Ctr+F session. If there is an error, QA Distiller will get you right there!

Software stability: my experience (version 6 in Windows XP) has shown very solid performance and compatibility, and certainly far less crashes than SDL’s QA Checker.

Some rare shortcomings


One of the limitations I found in the current version was that the Translation Consistency check did not work when running QA Distiller across several languages. Instead of reading the language code of each file and filtering the comparison, it reported the fact that translations differed from one language to the next. Not particularly helpful.

Secondly, although the pricing structure offers good choice, the full version seems a bit steep at €1000, especially since it also requires Trados to function on TTX files.

Additionnal Technical Information

QA Distiller supports all languages, and a variety of file formats: TRADOStag documents (TTX), FrameMaker RTF (STF), Translation Memory eXchange (TMX).
Terminology can be checked against proprietary-format dictionnaries (DICT) or the industry-standard Term Base eXchange (TBX).

The upcoming version 7 introduces:

  • Tag and ID-aware terminology checks
  • New Wrench icon funcitonnalities: batch correction of multiple quotation mark and number formatting
  • Fine-grained ignore option for improved noise filtering
  • Tag and case-independent consistency check
  • Full support for Georgian, Malay (Rumi and Jawi), Serbian (Latin and Cyrillic)

The little green man also told me that there are plans to add support for the many different XLIFF flavours like SDL XLIFF, MemoQ XLIFF, WorldServer XLIFF by the first quarter of next year.

For more details, check the cool demo at http://www.qa-distiller.com/movie/‏

Posted in QA Distiller, Quality Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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 @ Guinness: Trados Studio 2009 Q&A

Posted by Nick Peris on May 15, 2009

SDL Trados Studio 2009

The SDL Roadshow was in Dublin yesterday.

The “cream” of Ireland’s Localisation community was treated to a big day of product demos and slideshows at the home of the black stuff: the Guinness Storehouse.

As I made my way through Guinness town under a refreshing morning drizzle, I wondered for a minute how the pungent aromas of the early brewing activity would agree with the power breakfast I had had not so long ago.

This was soon to be forgotten however, thanks to a flying start to the proceedings provided by SDL’s Internal Training Manager, Tracey Byrne. Her performance was followed by a few other SDL presentations, as well as a case study on TMS by LSP partner VistaTEC. By the time we reached the Gravity Bar (it must have been 17:59) for some last minute networking opportunities, I think it’s safe to say we were all satisfied by a great event and a fine venue.

There was a lot of information provided throughout the course of the day and I will be releasing separate articles on SDL Passolo 2009 and SDL MultiTerm 2009 soon. What follows below is more directly related to SDL Trados Studio 2009, and what is new or adds to my Preview article. I’m presenting it in a Q&A structure which I hope will be practical to anyone looking for information on specific features, and an easy read for anyone wishing to go through it all. Sláinte!

What is the release date for SDL Trados Suite 2009?

The development cycle has reached Release Candidate stage and SDL are working towards an end of June release target.

Have the development team taken user feedback into account?

Yes, 80 ideas for Trados and 16 for MultiTerm are a reflection of user suggestions on ideas.sdltrados.com

Are TagEditor and Workbench gone?

Yes, Trados Studio combines aspects of SDLX and Trados into a fully integrated User Interface. Even MultiTerm, which still installs separately even though it is bundled with Trados Studio, now offers full functionality from within the Studio UI. SDLX, Workbench and TagEditor simply do not exist anymore.

What are the system requirements?

Here’s what SDL Marketing are saying on the subject of System Requirements:

“SDL Trados Studio supports Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista. As minimum requirements, we recommend a Pentium IV-based computer with 1 GB RAM and a screen resolution of 1280×1024. For optimum performance, we recommend 2 GB RAM and a more recent Pentium or compatible processor with a higher screen resolution.”

Please note that this is still subject to change until closer to the launch in June.

What is RevleX™?

It is a new XML-based TM engine. SDL Trados Studio 2009 uses new file formats for bilingual files (.sdlxliff), translation memories (.sdltm) and termbases (.sdltb). It brings together a slew of new features such as Context Matches, AutoPropagation, AutoSuggest™, Multiple TM support etc.

How does AutoSuggest work?

AutoSuggest is an inline predictive text-like feature which provides suggestion from TM, Termbase or dictionaries as you type. Suggestions appear in a context menu, with an icon clearly indicating whether they come from the TM or Termbase etc.The user can customize the maximum number of entries offered. Suggestions start appearing from the first letter typed and keep updating until you select one or finish typing the word.

Can you turn AutoSuggest off?

I’ve also heard this question about Alchemy Catalyst 8.0‘s ezType™. Perhaps from the same person?. The answer is Yes (in both cases), but developers have spent brain cells trying to make these features work in a non-intrusive yet efficient manner so you should probably give it a fair go!

Are Multi-lingual XML files supported?

Bilingual xliff will be supported but there seems to be a question mark on multi-lingual, and SDL said they’d follow-up with me once it’s clarified.

What are the improvements to format filters?

Main progress has been with PDF, XML, FrameMaker and inDesign.

How does the Upgrade TM functionality work?

Trados Studio will convert your old TM into the new format. In the current implementation this requires for the version used to create these TMs to also be present on the same machine. The alternative is to extract the TM on the machine that has the old version and import the content back into a Trados 2009 TM. I was also told that this may yet change and they may be able to include the components of the old version required for TM conversion in Studio 2009. Watch this space!

How is navigating big files in Trados Studio ‘s Editor improved compared to TagEditor or even Trados-aided Word?

The left panel in UI lists the headers and lets you click them to jump to a particular area in the document.

How does the Editor’s Real-Time preview work?

You need to manually generate the preview once. It uses a built-in stylesheet to simulate the end-result. This does not work on DTP file formats.

Can I lock segments in the Editor?

Yes. Context Matches (CM) are locked by default, but the PM can also manually lock other segments.

How is XLIFF supported?

Standard XLIFF are directly supported. The new default format for Trados bilingual files is .sdlxliff which is a proprietary format developed from XLIFF with additional functionality relating to RevleX™

How does QuickPlace work?

To apply formatting, highlight the word or group of words in the target segment, press CTRL + comma. Choose the required formatting from the inline dropdown list. If there is more than one to apply in a segment, QuickPlace will try to guess which is most likely required and offer it at the top of the list. Alternatively you can also hold CTRL, highlight the formatted text in the source segment, and then highlight the text to be formatted in the target segment. Similar applies to Placeables such as figures, measurements etc.

Is there Real-Time verification in the Editor?

Yes. If an error is detected, an icon will appear in the notification area between the source and target segments. The error message can be viewed in the tooltip of this icon or in a dedicated message panel. In case of False positive, simply remove the warning.

Does Trados Studio 2009 support TTX files?

Yes for editing, no for creating.

Is cross-files AutoPropagate available?

No, not in the first release. But there is a workaround: Merge all project files into one.  Cross-file repetitions are also taken into account when creating a package if the “Recompute” option is selected.

Does the Merge feature support all file types?

Yes files of different formats can be merged together. Once merged they can still be viewed and worked on relatively independently.

What is new with Term recognition?

The Editor allows direct access to full MultiTerm functionality. Terms can be cross-reference by ID so if a term is edited, any other term previously linking to it for definition remains linked.

What is the workflow in a scenario where not all participant to a project have upgraded to Trados Studio 2009?

If the Project Manager has upgraded the translators, reviewers etc will have to upgrade in order to use the TMs, to open the bilingual files or use the Termbase. The Project Manager will be able to work with Trados 2007 files (creates a .ttx.sdlxliff) but not create them.

The only alternative is to provide TMX translation memories and not to pre-translate the deliverables.

Can the PM upload project packages through FTP using the Project panel in Trados Studio?

No. Project packages can only be email through Outlook. This is however optional, and FTP can always be done manually once Trados Studio has created said packages.

Can you import customer details?

Yes but only from Outlook.

Can multiple TMs be used in a project?

Yes multiple TMs and Termbases are supported. A priority order between TMs can be set and there is also an option to “Always use the best match”.

What’s new with fuzzy matches?

The fuzzy band values and their number are now fully customizable.

What reference material can be included into a package?

Package can contain global TM settings, Termbases, AutoSuggest dictionaries etc.

Does Perfect Match still exist?

No, it is replaced with Context Match (CM) but may be added back in a later release.

What does Create Package do?

  • creates a folder structure
  • creates a package per target language if the option is selected
  • lets the user define tasks for individual packages
  • recomputes wordcount or analysis for cross-file repetitions.

Are files locked for updates while packages are out for translation?

No. It would be a good suggestion for ideas.sdltrados.com, to mirror a functionality in SDL Passolo 2009.

What is the LSP partner program?

52 Language Service Providers have entered various levels of partnership with SDL. The objective is to create value for translation buyers, help LSP’s become experts at translation technology, and promote training and support.

When will training for Trados Studio 2009 be available?

Training for SDL Passolo 2009 is available now. Courses (including upgrade courses) for Trados Studio 2009 will be available at launch. There will be a split between a Translators and a PM path. There will also be a separate SDL MultiTerm 2009 course.

When will certification exams for Trados Studio 2009 be available?

End of September 2009.

Which training and certification path will be on offer?

For Translators:

  • Getting Started
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • MultiTerm

For Project Managers:

  • SDL Trados Studio 2009 for Project Managers
  • SDL MultiTerm 2009 for Project Managers

Posted in SDL Trados, SDL Trados Studio 2009 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Alchemy Catalyst 8.0: Official Launch

Posted by Nick Peris on May 4, 2009

Alchemy Catalyst 8.0

On Friday, May 1st 2009, Alchemy Software Development officially launched a new iteration of their visual localisation tool and flag-ship product: Catalyst 8.0.

The event was held in Dublin (Ireland)’s Alexander Hotel, minutes away from Alchemy’s HQ. On offer were a feature highlights demo by Director of Engineering and Chief Architect Enda McDonnell, an informal meet-the-developers opportunity and client case studies by representatives of Citrix, Creative and Symantec.

This article reports and comments on some of what was said and shown.

A Total Visual Localization™ solution

Created mostly as a software localisation tool, Catalyst has now clearly outgrown this limiting description. The trademark visual editing capabilities now cover most aspects of localised content publishing:

  • Help
  • Web sites
  • Software applications

Reaching out to translators

But Catalyst is sometimes still seen as an engineer’s tool. Alchemy are aware of this and have been listening to feedback from professional translators. The result is a translating environment which undeniably seems more linguist-friendly. There is a convergence with the interactive translation environment in Trados, which is only a part of a general strategy to increase translators productivity by lowering the time needed to get accustomed to various tools.The New Translator Toolbar

  • Translator tool bar:
    • live validation: flagged with non-intrusive warning symbols
    • keywords: locking and validation for in-segment non translatables
    • internal tag management
    • multiple matches displayed
  • Switch to the industry-standard terminology exchange format (TBX)
  • Supplementary Glossary for translators to populate their own reference material
  • Unlimited number of TM’s and web-based Machine Translation (MT) service ensure there is always a match

Changes to ezParse

In order to keep up with the long-served ambition of providing support for the latest file formats, changes have been made to Catalyst’s parsing tool.

  • WPF (baml): full compatibility including visual editing of WPF forms and parsing out of.NET 3.0 objectsA WPF Form in Catalyst 8.0
  • Conditional XML: can now set the value of an element (or one of its attributes) to be localisable only if the value of another of its attributes indicates it should be treated as such (similar to functionality added to the settings file in Trados 2007).
    Conditional XML
  • Multilingual XML: supported by reading the source segment in one element but storing the translation entered into another. While this is a very up-to-date feature, there seems to be some limitations in term of process. The translators will only deal with one language pair, so post-translation engineering will involve leveraging from multiple partially translated TTK’s back into the “Master” TTK before a fully multilingual file can be extracted. This should however be made easier by the updates made to Experts such as Leverage.Multilingual XML

Updates to the ExpertsThe Leverage/Update Expert

  • Programmable API’s (Com and Event) are provided to encourage client-developed automation. This was a strong theme across both the Alchemy presentation and most of the guest speakers’. It has been a feature of Catalyst for some time but is now emerging as the area where Catalyst gets ahead of the CAT pack.
  • Multiple TTK’s, multiple languages and multiple TM’s to leverage from, all at once: this sounds like great news and is the feature I personally look forward to the most.
  • Target folders can be set and original TTK’s preserved (necessary to achieve previous point).
  • Leverage algorithm improved to search for 100% match in all TM’s provided before searching for fuzzy matches.

Cutting-edge Technology Thumbnails

  • Improved navigation: thumbnails for Forms, Dialogs, WPF, HTML, graphics…are the latest addition to the visual features.
  • Improved validation: live and programmable (API). Catalyst 8.0 comes with an updated list of validation tests and also offers the ability to create your own: custom .NET objects can be called by Catalyst during Validation but also file insertion, extraction etc.
  • Underlying technology upgrades make Catalyst future-ready: compiler upgraded to Visual Studio 8 which is relevant both to Windows 7 compatibility and a future 64-bit Catalyst)

Screen caps courtesy of Alchemy

Posted in Catalyst, News, Software Localisation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

SDL Trados Studio 2009: Preview

Posted by Nick Peris on April 22, 2009

Start ViewHave you, like me, been slow to adopt Synergy? Do you maybe find it a little cumbersome or incomplete? Would you rather just open Workbench and TagEditor and get on with it? Or perhaps do you (or your clients) still find it easier to use Trados in conjunction with Microsoft Words?

Well, this may be about to change!

Earlier today, SDL conducted one of their very informative Webex meetings to announce a new version of Trados: SDL Trados Studio 2009. The release is due in June 2009, although “Trados 2009” is still in the last stages of development, so some of the features might yet change slightly.

The 1-hour short webinar comprised of 2 parts: a features highlight and a rapid but enlightening desktop-sharing software demo. Here is what I thought was worth bringing up to your attention: 
 

Feature highlights

Integration

This is actually quiet attractive and the reason why I brought up Synergy above. SDL seem to have come up with a truly integrated environment for editing, reviewing, terminology management, project management and all the aspects of Trados related work. No need to open a TM in Workbench, load a TermBase, open a TTX in TagEditor, a document in Word, or turn the coffee machine on.

Productivity

  • New TM engine: the xml-based RevleX™. Among other things, it revives contextual match by liberating it from comparing old and new TTX files. Context Match works live, within any new document, and between files within a project.
  • AutoPropagation™ immediately translates repeated strings within a document once you have translated the first occurrence.
  • AutoPropagate

  • Searches can easily be run on both source and target segments.
  • Multiple TMs lookup is available.
  • AutoSuggest™: predictive text which leverages phrases rather than only segments from your TM as you type.
  • AutoSuggest

  • Real-Time Preview: check final look as you translate, without navigating to a different tab. This seems very good news for those translators who find Trados tends to disconnect sentences from the whole document and lead translated documents to become a collection of sentences rather than a wholesome piece of work.
  • QuickPlace™: improves text formatting, tags, placeables, variables management by providing it in-line.
  • DTP application support has been updated and PDF can now be edited directly.

Open platform

  • New XLIFF-based default format for bilingual files (.sdlxliff). Yes, this does mean the end of TTX files!
  • Improved TMX and TBX support.
  • Easy access to API for 3rd party applications.
  • Customisable User Interface (UI).

 

Software Demo

As I mentioned before, SDL Trados Studio 2009 builds on Synergy. The interface has the now familiar Visual Studio .net feel which we’ve seen in Synergy as well as other CAT tools.

From the point of view of a Trados user, as in a Workbench + TagEditor user, the integrated aspect really becomes more prominent and inevitable, but in a good way!

Tab views

Task History
As expected in a Visual Studio.net application, a number of tabs are available at the bottom left of the UI. Some are familiar, some not:

Project Status

  • Start: provides the general overview.
  • Projects: has new project status and Task History panels.
  • Files: navigation pane has My Tasks and Sent Tasks folders to promote standardised filing.
  • Reports: segment status.
  • Editor: contains the entire interactive translation environment (more in the dedicated section below).
  • TMs: preview, maintenance, update string, search from within the Trados Studio UI.

Editor

Editor

  • A document can be opened from the main UI by simply clicking Open Document. But there is also a Windows Explorer context menu shortcut, which seems very efficient compared to opening Workbench, then TagEditor like you would most likely do with your current version of Trados.
  • The Editor panel now has TM + Bilingual file+ TermBase + Previews all open at once.
  • Source and target segments appear in a very clear and tag-free left-right panel view. This immediately seemed much more welcoming than TagEditor.
  • Context Matches are flagged with a CM icon – not dependant on having a matching old ttx, also works live within new documents.
  • Formatting can still be copied from source to target.
  • Placeable and terms are offered in context (drop down like predictive text). No need to use arrow icons at the top of the UI (keyboard shortcuts still work).
  • AutoPropagate seamlessly pre-translates further occurrences of strings you have just translated. They are marked as Unconfirmed 100% (orange instead of green).
  • Term detected amd added

  • Full terminology functionality is also integrated, including adding to termbase.
  • A Review mode allows to filter by match type (e.g. display only Unconfirmed 100% matches within a document for batch review and sign off).
  • Editor can edit PDFs (but deliverable output isn’t PDF).

Project view (for PMs)

  • Project templates can be saved with a high level of customisation.
  • QA Checker is now in version 3.0.
  • TM options can be edited from here.
  • Dictionaries for AutoSuggest can be added.
  • Tasks can be assigned to users during project creation. This information is then included when packages (i.e. translation kits) are created.
  • Files can be merged, which creates a single .sdlxliff file out of potentially several file types.
  • Merged Files

  • Batch processing: TM tasks are processed simultaneously (analysis, pre-translate etc.)
  • Project package contents:
    Create Project Package

    • Can include Main (or Master) TM.
    • Can include an existing Project TM in a main package or create separate Project TMs if multiple packages (.sdlppx) are distributed.
    • Can link-up with Outlook to send automatically populated Handoffs emails.
    • Email Handoff

  • TMs view:
    • Can search through source and target.
    • Can upgrade existing TM.
  • Requires all participant to be using Studio 2009

Posted in News, SDL Trados, SDL Trados Studio 2009 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

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 »

XML in Localisation: What can it really do for us?

Posted by Nick Peris on April 8, 2009

Have you ever wondered how xml could possibly be relevant to our needs? Localising xml files is pretty much straight forward. But what of using XML to localise? From English XML to Localised RTF, HTML, PDF ... and XML

As localisation professionals we’ve all known about XML for quite some time now. We understand that as a Markup Language, it is closely related to HTML. We also know that it is Extensible, meaning that the tags and structure are user-specific. This gives us the picture of a very powerful and flexible language.

But I’m sure we also all have come across an xml-based document (a “.xml file”), which we have launched in our favorite browser, only to be treated to a pretty unattractive page of…XML code!

So what can that powerful and yet somewhat undefinable animal really do for us?

This article shows a practical example of xml technology applied to a specific localisation process. In doing so, it also illustrates some of the advantages of having a dedicated Localisation Team or Department, rather than allowing various departments in an organisation to manage their own localisation. In this case, a simple handover of responsibilities from a Marketing team to a Localisation team generated a major leap forward in process, efficiency and quality control. Here is how:

Original setup

In this organisation, the process for creating and localising marketing and web content was the following:

  • 1 master document – the product sheet – was created for each new product released.
  • The product sheet was localised into 13 languages.
  • Relevant  sections were pasted individually into the website for each language.
  • Relevant sections were also pasted individually into a printable version which was converted to PDF again for each language.
  • The localised doc files were also circulated.

There were 2 major issues with this:

  1. Copying and pasting made the process extremely time consuming and error prone.
  2. No translation memory system was used, making leveraging impossible and quality control of the localised content solely reliant on proof readers.

Solution implemented

The Localisation team was handed over the responsibility of localising this content mainly to free-up Marketing resources. Rather than simply taking over, they identified opportunities for improvement and initiated an R&D effort in xml Single Source Publishing. The goal now was to automate as much of the process as possible, and free-up time within the agreed standard turnaround for systematic quality control.

The new process ended up as follows:

  • Product sheet created in xml by the authors, using the free WYSIWYG XML authoring tool Altova Authentic®.
  • The xml schema was designed to be compatible with the web content management system used to create localised product pages.
  • A Trados ini file was created to parse out all non-localisable content in the xml code.
  • XSL Transformation and Apache FOP were used to automatically generate all localised XML, HTML, RTF and PDF copies after post-translation processing in Trados.
  • A VB Developer created a tool to manage all Altova StyleVision®-based automation from one single UI.

Result

  • Upload of complete xml product sheets to the website for each language rather than copying and pasting independent fields (unfortunately batch upload was not permitted by the web content management system).
  • Internet team saved 75% on the time required for localised product webpages to go live.
  • Other content types were all published simultaneously.
  • Use of Translation Memories and pro-active Terminology Management cut cost and increased consistency.
  • Thorough Quality Checks were also processed in batch using QA Distiller™ which helped catch multiple terminology and value errors before publication.

The key to the success of this new setup, apart from choosing to use XML, was the ability to revise the process from beginning to end. Because the Localisation team were allowed to have a say in the authoring process, efficiencies were generated on the whole span of the Marketing and Web content creation and XML Single Source Publishing was successfully implemented.

Posted in XSLT and FOP | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

SDL Trados 2007: License Server Setup

Posted by Nick Peris on March 27, 2009

Using Technical Support Advisors (TSAs) to produce Knowledge Base content is a logical choice: they are in-house native speakers with unbeatable product knowledge, who can produce source and localised articles at minimal additional cost if they can work around their other duties.

What can be overlooked in such a seemingly efficient setup is Translation Memories (TMs). This case shows an example of such a setup being integrated with Trados TM technology.

Original setup

  • English articles were produced at a sustained pace by a team of dedicated technical writers.
  • TSAs were involved with their review and the creation of some English articles.
  • Translation would be undertaken by native speakers in TSA, when time allowed.
  • Percentage of translated articles was low and loosing ground.
  • Lack of version tracking meant English articles may be updated several times before translation work started.
  • Reusing existing translations and updating existing articles was tedious, and sometimes led to the re-translation of entire sections or documents.
  • There was no terminology control and references to UI terms (e.g. OS or software strings, firmware messages etc.) were entirely ad hoc.

Solution implemented

  • The corporation setup a Trados Network License Server as part of the Trados 2007 update.
  • Thanks to the different time zones involved, a sufficient number of Trados licenses was available to equip the Technical Support translators.
  • Initial training and a reference manual was provided.
  • A Termbase was loaded into Workbench to provide integrated reference across content types.
  • Some Winalign work was also done to start populating the Knowledge Base Master TMs before Trados-based translations even started.
  • An engineer was assigned to run TagEditor Verifiers and QA Distiller checks on the new translated content to help increase overall quality.

Result

  • The gap between the English and localised Knowledge Base narrowed, especially for the most viewed cases.
  • The quality and consistency of the articles increased.
  • The pace of translation increased.
  • The setup was used beyond its original scope, supporting updates to the parent corporation website.
  • Substantial cost was saved and projects delivered which would not have received cost approval necessary for outsourcing.

One of the things which made this project a big success was its negligible cost. The investment was null since the whole setup was based on better utilising existing resources. In such a scenario, the cost of a full-blown Global CMS system would have been impossible to justify..

Posted in SDL Trados, SDL Trados 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

SDL Trados 2007: Translation Memory Strategies

Posted by Nick Peris on March 27, 2009

What is the best way to organise and maintain Translation Memories?

I currently maintain TMs using 2 features of Trados (the Attributes and Master/Project TM dichotomy) and Alchemy’s Trados component.

Master TMs

  • single and exhaustive repository for each field and language pair (e.g. EN-FR Medical).
  • used to analyse all new projects and generate Project TMs.
  • content of Project TMs are only added to it when full project cycle has ended (including review, QA etc.).
  • because of their exhaustive nature, Master TMs tend to grow rapidely and would not be practical for inclusion into a translation kits.
  • even when outsourcing all or most of the localisation process, these should always be held by the client as they are a valuable asset which they own, regardless of whether they are outsourcing TM Management.

Project TMs

  • specific to a project or project stage (i.e. successive handoffs of a same project often have their own Project TMs).
  • used to pre-translate the handoff (i.e. generate the TTX files to send to the vendor).
  • passed on to translation vendors for analysis and use during interactive translation.
  • used during post-translation engineering (bugs are fixed in Workbench + TagEditor + MultiTerm interactive translation environment by the localisation engineer).

Software TMs

  • single and exhaustive repository for each field and language pair, generated bi-yearly from Catalyst TTKs.
  • added to Master TM of their field and/or used as Concordance reference during translation of help, documentation, knowledge base articles etc.
  • also used as leverage source for software through Catalyst.

Use of attributes

  • every time a new project is analysed, custom attributes are added and set (e.g. Vendor=AAA, Project=XXX, Field=FFF).
  • can be used to filter searches and analyses.
  • also useful to track back on errors or arbitrate between duplications.

Posted in SDL Trados, SDL Trados 2007 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »