The first details about the next version of Trados have started trickling over the usual networks. The release is announced for late September-early October 2013 and will include both SDL Trados Studio 2014 and SDL MultiTerm 2014. Other SDL applications will get a refresh shortly afterwards including Groupshare and WorldServer in the shape of a Service Pack for WorldServer 2011 (10.3). This renewed focus on SDL’s core translation technologies coincides with difficult financial results for SDL Technologies this year. But in order to make a difference to the sales of technology licenses there will have to be significant and meaningful improvements rather than refreshes and remarketing of existing features.
So what can we expect on the Trados front? On first impression there is little or no look-and-feel difference. However the marketing is focusing partly on an updated design, so the beta build shown must be the translation industry’s equivalent to showing the camouflaged prototype of a new car. A few screen shots displayed during a recent presentation did provide hints regarding the direction taken with the design of the Trados User Interface (UI). They showed a somewhat familiar interface with ribbons and tabs which were reminiscent of the current Microsoft Office. It is not uncommon in the Localisation industry either, with GlobalLink Project Director for example having used ribbons for some time already. According to the description given during the preview, Trados’s ribbons can be minimised and have an auto-hide feature, but it is not possible to add/remove custom buttons or links to the ribbons.
SDL have reportedly invested a lot of efforts in improving performance with speed and stability both the target. Users feedback from the beta community confirms marked improvements compared to the previous version of Trados Studio according to SDL. It wasn’t specified whether these results were obtained with a build using the old or the new UI, so it is too early to tell how much performance improvements will be passed on to the final build, and how much will be consumed by the UI’s resource requirements.
- starting a project by dropping a file into Studio
- faster file saving
- more seamless connection to networked resources such as TM’s, Glossaries and Projects
Trados will apparently become smarter with:
- an Autosave feature
- updated file format support (including some bilingual files as source)
- automatic Concordance search when no TM match exists
- simpler creation of auto-suggest dictionaries.
The demo build also allowed users to open several files at once in the translator’s interface as if they were a single document. This is different from merging which is a pre-processing task rather than a translator’s productivity tool. Instead translators have the ability to open a Studio project, multiselect files, right-click and choose a Translate as one option. They will then be treated as one file, thus enabling batch Verification, Auto-Propagation etc. until translation is completed. It will be interesting to see how effective this is in a production environment.
An important topic with any software update is backward compatibility: Studio 2014 is to maintain full compatibility of Translation Memories, Termbases and Projects from previous Trados Studio versions. As should be expected, the features new to Studio 2014 will not however work in older versions. All versions of Trados and MultiTerm should be able to coexist on the same production chain, but again in reality it may limit the ability of all to use the features exclusive to the newest version.
One of the most interesting parts for me was the announcement that Winalign is finally set to retire. This specialised and standalone tool was still distributed with the most recent version of Trados Studio, despite being a legacy tool which had received very little updates since the release of Trados 2007. With Trados Studio 2014, it seems a new Alignment tool will be integrated into the Studio interface. It is not yet known whether it will be available with all the Editions or only the Professional licenses, but it sounds promising.
The version briefly demo’ed during the recent webinar seemed to work well enough. Its integrated UI does seem to be an improvement compared to the old Winalign. The use of Studio File Types and the alignment project settings also seem to be steps in the right direction. For example, an Alignement score can be set to reflect your degree of confidence in a particular Alignment project. This is similar to an MT Fuzzy Equivalent score. The value given to the aligned Translation Unit (TU) will determine their priority over the rest of the TUs in the Translation Memory used to leverage a new project. This score is a user setting and may be different for each Alignment project.
Trados is also getting Interoperability on board, although it seems to be mostly Interoperability with other SDL products. For example more metadata is to be included in new WorldServer packages. Both the latest Trados Studio and upcoming WorldServer Service Pack are required for this. Studio 2014 will also allow live connections to WorldServer TMs including for real-time TM update if permissions are granted to the user. Note that this used to be possible with Desktop Workbench, Idiom’s original and free desktop CAT tool for WorldServer which has now been retired by SDL. This is more catch-up than real technological advance: Wordfast allows such live connection to the GlobalLink TM Server, and so does SDLX Professional to SDL TMS Translation Memories etc. Still, with Trados connected to WorldServer this way, SDL promises the ability for more accurate status monitoring from WorldServer which will be useful.