Localization, Localisation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Workflow’

Workflow Technologies: Top 10 Must-Have Features

Posted by Nick Peris on September 2, 2013

A Typical Localisation Workflow

Example of a Typical Localisation Workflow

Over the last few years, the number of Globalization Management Systems (GMS), Translation Management Systems (TMS) and similar Workflow technologies dedicated to Localisation has increased steadily. It is not quite comparable to the explosion in the number of Content Management Systems (CMS) but the choice certainly has increased. As a result it has become more complicated to thoroughly evaluate all options available, and the rise of more specialised subcategories such as Localization Management Systems, Proxy and Cloud-based solutions, Crowdsourcing Portals etc.  only adds to this information overload.

This evolution indicates that this technology sector is vibrant and not yet as saturated as the traditional CAT tools market. It remains innovative and in my opinion contradicts analysts who argue that GMS’s will be absorbed by CMS’s and the booming eCommerce platforms.

In fact, there are so many CMS’s and eCommerce solutions around, from the big players such as EpiServer or Adobe Experience Manager (formerly Adobe CQ) to open-source solutions like Drupal and proprietary systems provided by website integrators, that there is no way these can be relied upon to provide workflow features which can respond to the specific requirements of the translation supply chain.

The GMS sector has also become more of a replacement market, where Enterprises are often looking to replace an existing GMS with their second or third technology. A certain lack of innovation, excessive licensing costs and mergers among some of the traditional big players have created an appetite for diversity and an opportunity for innovators.

There are certainly some interesting new technologies. Some focus on the User Interface and the easy-of-use, others on community with in-tool forums for users to share tips and experiences and real-time Support to keep production streaming. Others yet allow segment-level task completion and embedded MT to enable real-time progress. Most, if not all of these efforts seem to concentrate on improving ownership satisfaction which has long been a shortcoming of GMS’s.

Unfortunately, fundamental GMS features can sometimes be lacking when these tools are released at an early stage in their Development, or when their design is not aware of the requirements of the entire supply chain. Prospective GMS-buyers should not get distracted by the bells and whistles, and miss possible issues with the more essential features.

The 10 fundamentals below should be your starting point and the rest should only come as extras. The order of priority between these will depend on your own business process.

Automated Quote Process

Workflow systems are used by Enterprises which have a regular stream of translation requirements. Vendor rates are usually pre-agreed rather than negociated on a project by project basis. The Workflow technology should be able to hold these rates and automatically generate a quote when a translation request is submitted. It should be able to handle minimum charge, PM fees, volume discounts and provide a workflow step where the requestor or authorised user can accept or reject the quote.

CAT Tools compatibility

Ideally there should be an online translation interface as well as the option to download translation requests and work offline.

The online interface should include enough features to ensure it can be used by professional translators: Spell-Checker, Tag Checker, Terminology Checker, Concordance Search are the minimum required.

The offline option should be vendor-agnostic and offer XLIFF as well as the bilingual formats for the main CAT tools such as WordFast, memoQ and Trados. The ability for these tools to connect to the online TM and Glossaries and update them in real-time is also expected more and more commonly.

Connector library

CMS connectors: GlobalLink hybris extension

The GlobalLink extension, available from the hybris website

A library of CMS and eCommerce adaptors should be available. GMS’s such as GlobalLink provide a library of connectors for the most common systems as well as an API to create connectors for new CMS and eCommerce platforms or proprietary systems.

There should also be the possibility to monitor FTP locations and file systems.

Dedicated Review Portal

Client review or independent linguistic review is common in translation chains where volumes a big. This is mainly due to the fact that big volumes mean multiple translators must work simultaneously, and the Review step is needed to enforce consistency and monitor quality trends. A dedicated Online Review environment can make this process immensely more efficient if it’s kept clear and free of the more specialised features required in the Translation Interface. Client-side reviewers are rarely linguists and more likely employees whose primary task is brand and marketing related. Live in-context preview is more relevant to them than a side-by-side segment layout.

The Review environment should have its own reporting tool to monitor quality if error categories and scores are used. Reports on individual projects (online scorecards) and Organization-level reports are equally as important. The system should keep an audit trail of changes, and offer some workflow functionality towards Implementation whether it is done by the reviewers or by the translators.

Changes implemented in the review tool must be automatically added to both the final deliverable and the translation memories.

File Filters designer

Most file types will be supported out-of-the-box but it is also crucial to have the ability to easily add future or unusual file types without having to resort to Professional Services. The file filter interface must be flexible and allow Administrators to import filters from CAT tools but also create filters online in the GMS. I have yet to see a tool, let alone a GMS, which does that as well as a Alchemy Catalyst and its EZparser but hopefully that day will come. In the meantime do not settle for a system that wouldn’t let you parse all tags in a JSON or other custom XML and ensure post-filters are supported (e.g. for HTML code nested within XML or XLS).

Linguistic asset management

A good GMS will let users with appropriate permissions perform all TM and Terminology set-up and maintenance tasks natively. This includes manual editing of both asset types, TM sequencing (with leverage priority, penalties, update TM selection), workflow-driven automatic updates, terminology extraction and approval. All users need the ability to search TM’s and Glossaries, while only experts will get the permissions to perform Maintenance.

Project creation templates

The key to workflow management is automation. Clicks are a GMS’s worst enemy and should be a primary focus during User Acceptance Testing.

Any repeatable task should be recorded and automated. The requestor should not have to type anything other than the project name. Everything else should be available through menus and selectable options, each with the most commonly used choices pre-populated. Ideally, the software should interactively learn and remember the behavior of each user, but pre-programmed defaults are the current standard.

Reporting Tool

Jaspersoft iReport DesignerThere should be a choice of download formats, and a way to create custom reports based on queries to the underlying database. Client-side users don’t always need visibility into the linguistic side of the system. What they do need is flexible on-demand reporting. Whether there is a live dashboard or a facility to run reports, the system has to be customisable so the reports respond to their Organization’s needs both from the point of view of Program Management and Financial tracking.

Unlimited number of users

The pricing should not be directly linked to the number of users. I have often come across Enterprises with state-of-the-art workflow systems where the vendor side PMs had to download and upload translation kits on behalf of their freelancers. The hidden cost of such a limitation is monumental and the amount of negative sentiment generated towards a system which is supposed to automate repetitive tasks cannot be recuperated.

Role-based permissions should allow Administrators to control what everyone is doing at a granular level, and all routine user assignment should be automated. Once you own a GMS, every single transactions must be seamlessly supported, and no one should ever have to be delayed by timezones.

Workflow designer

Localization workflows vary. The technology you choose should offer enough flexibility to support your business process without too much adjustment. The Workflow Designer should offer a customisable library of human and automated steps and the possibility to have more than one outcome to each workflow step (e.g. Pass/Fail, DTP/no DTP etc.). The best Designers have a graphic interface and allow the easy cloning of existing workflows.

Posted in CAT Tools Comparison, GlobalLink, Translation Management Systems | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WorldServer v. SDL TMS

Posted by Nick Peris on March 20, 2012

Designing Workflows in WorldServerSDL recently made a statement via the SDL Users Group on LinkedIn updating and clarifying their strategy for their 2 competing Workflow Management applications, WorldServer and TMS.

Paul Harrap (Enterprise Localization Consultant at SDL) said: “We’ve obviously got several products that fit the same broad product niche in the enterprise TMS space (…) and need to focus on one for future Sales and Marketing to avoid a confusing message to the marketplace. That is World Server.” more

Tim Lee (Director of Product Management at SDL) added: “(…) As the person responsible for product management of SDL TMS and SDL WorldServer, please let me start by confirming that SDL continues to be committed to both TMS and WorldServer with dedicated teams and roadmaps for each product respectively.more

The overall message is that WorldServer is now the flagship product, but support and development will continue for both products until at least 2013. This may be seen as a change in direction compared to what was originally stated when SDL acquired Idiom in 2008, and the priority seemed to be given to TMS. However, SDL commits to a Service Pack 3 for TMS 2011 and at least one new major release, tentatively called SDL TMS 2013.

Giving priority to WorldServer is in my opinion the correct choice, but this still seems like a non-fully committed announcement, and we could easily see another adjustment by 2013 or later. Having first hand experience using and managing both applications, I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I think are the main strengths and weaknesses of each system, and why my personal preference goes to WorldServer.Designing Workflows in TMS

Designing Workflows

WorldServer is the clear winner in this category. It has a very intuitive, flexible and powerful graphic workflow designer. TMS really only offers lists of entries to pick from, and I find the Workflow/Configuration distinction inefficient.

WorldServer workflows can go back and forth, but also loop and go through parallel Steps. It can skip Steps, or offer multiple transitions in and out of every Step. The transitions are represented as radio buttons when a user completes the Step. In TMS, one can only Submit a Task to the next Stage or Reject it back to the previous one.

You can also add your own custom Human Steps and Automatic Actions (through Java script imports) to WorldServer’s catalog (more about customisations in the next section). Even the Task History shown within projects is much clearer, with a graphic representation of the full workflow, with current Step visually highlighted, as well as a list of past Steps with owners, time stamps and global comments included.

Customising FunctionalitiesCustomisations in WorldServer

This is another of WorldServer’s core strengths, thanks to the immense flexibility of its design. Custom automation can be created using the SDK and is relatively easy to add. Even easier are the “LSP pages”: jsp files dropped into the WorldServer installation folder structure let you add custom dashboards for project overview or even some batch processing (e.g. push all languages within a Project Group from a given Workflow Step through a predetermined transition)

User permissions in WorldServer can seem confusing at first, but once the Administrator gets familiar with them, the possibilities are limitless. Each users’ privileges are defined through a set of parameters. All of these are fully customisable, meaning that you can not only adjust their settings but also create entirely new categories.

  • User Types define the general rights: project view or edit access, TM and TD read or write access, possibility to edit offline, import export etc.
  • Workflow Roles: define who is assigned specific Steps in a Workflow, in conjunction with the Locales. This may be set for specific users or entire Workgroups.
  • Workgroups list users of all types, locales and roles assigned to a Program, Customer or Project Type
  • Project Types are presets used during project creation to automate the linking to TMs, TDs, Filter groups, Workgroups, Cost Models etc.
  • Clients determine access to the Transport Portal for project submission or quote requests by third-party users.

All this potential for customisation can mean time-consuming setup. Thankfully by exporting and importing WorldServer Objects settings can easily be copied from a test to a production environment. Items can be backed up for recovery or roll-back, either in batches (e.g. all settings for a certain customer) or individually. For instance, you could export a whole workflow as an xml file, rename it and reimport it to quickly create a variant of it.

Filters are also much better in WorldServer than TMS. While in TMS Filters are SDLX-based and only some can be customised,  in WorldServer they can be imported from a number of CAT tools (Trados ini, xsd, dtd, raw xml). All Filters can be edited from the WorldServer UI, they can be teamed up in Filter Groups and linked to Project types. WorldServer Projects use the out-of-the-box filters unless the Project Type is linked to a custom filter for the given File Type.

But WorldServer filters are not perfect in every way: I have experienced problems with certain rtf files, json files, even xlsx (in relation to repetitions) in WorldServer 2009. Still few tools can filter xml and resx files as precisely as WorldServer: the content of one tag can be set to be exposed to translation or not depending on the value of another tag’s attribute. There are even desktop CAT tools which can’t do that!

User Interface FeaturesDesigning Workflows in TMS

Here TMS has a few unique features that its users would probably miss if they migrated to WorldServer. For example, Project Managers can impersonate other users to check the content of their Inbox, or even submit Tasks on their behalf if they were unable to do so themselves. This is much faster than logging as those users every time. TMS also lets translators upload multiple deliveries within the same zip file. The version control is smart enough that you do not need to open the project for which you are submitting a delivery. Another interesting out-of-the-box feature of TMS is the QA Check which can be set to run automatically to prevent submission to the next Stage if for example there are untranslated segments or Terminology inconsistencies. The QA Check can be overridden by users if needed, but it is a useful automation.

Overall though, I find the .NET Framework-based UI is a lot more rigid and prone to screen freezes than WorldServer’s Browser-based UI. The latter is more friendly and requires less training and user support because it mostly works like any website. That said, it is also one of the downfalls of WorldServer: the browser support is not always keeping up, particularly with Firefox. Since browsers are often set to auto-update, this is a problem. Browser-specific issues can be difficult to troubleshoot. Getting a hotfix from SDL for them has proved impossible.

For linguists working online WorldServer’s Browser Workbench has an edge over the outdated TMS Translation interface. Again it benefits from being browser-based which makes it more intuitive and versatile. User support is much lighter with WorldServer than TMS.

CAT Tools Compatibility and Offline EditingTM Searches and Maintenance in TMS

Things are a little more complicated when it comes to working offline, which is the most common scenario. Both tools have removed support for TTX (i.e. Trados 2007) in their 2011 releases. This is part of the push for linguists to migrate to Trados Studio. TMS relies on ITD’s for work in SDLX which is also very outdated. Both tools support downloads for Trados Studio. Up until WorldServer 2009, the “free” tool Desktop Workbench was available and quite full-featured. In WorldServer 2011, it is only compatible with projects using legacy (i.e. Idiom) file Filters and not the new Studio File Types, which require Trados Studio. Even worse, Desktop Workbench is about to reach end-of-life. In short, whichever Workflow system you are using, SDL are actively pushing for linguists to use a version of Trados Studio, whether it is the full desktop tool, Studio Online for TMS or Studio Express for WorldServer 2011. None of these are free.

Translation Memory and Terminology ManagementTM Searches and Maintenance in WorldServer

This is an area where I’ve always had concerns about TMS.

WorldServer still benefits from a more CAT Tool-agnostic approach dating from the IDIOM era. It can be used as a full-fledged Translation Memories and Terminology Repository and Portal. Through User Types and Workgroups, access to the Tools tab can be precisely managed. Users can view selected individual or Groups of Linguistic Assets, and the Administrator can easily turn Editing, Exporting, Importing, Purging, on and off for either Linguistic asset types. Term-based workflows can even be created so the Terminology approval process can be managed exactly like any other WorldServer Project.

For offline work, TMS relies on scheduled TM exports. These are usually weekly occurrences; exports are made available through a dedicated page in TMS, which unfortunately is quite difficult to search through when there are several pages of TMs. I observed and heard of several cases where the export stopped working, often after a Service Pack upgrade, so not only is this impractical it is also unreliable. By opposition WorldServer has none of these issues and all the solutions: any user with the right permissions can export and import a TM or TM Group at any time. TMX exports can also be scheduled to process automatically, as often as every 15 minutes if you so wish. I’ve only seen this process fail once, and I must admit it was my own fault…TM Sequencing in TMS

TM sequencing can be setup in both systems. TMS is the only one to allow the updating of multiple TMs. But WorldServer has a more sophisticated leveraging algorithm, cycling through all the TMs in the Groups for each fuzzy band, including ICE (in-context) Matches and reverse leveraging.

IT and infrastructure

TMS earns a few more points here: for example LDAP support makes User ID Management more flexible. It also appears less complicated to install because WorldServer has so many separate components.TM Sequencing in WorldServer

However WorldServer is immensely more scalable. The database architecture is well thought-out and individual components can be separated into clusters, which has advantages for troubleshooting and reliability.

Posted in CAT Tools Comparison, SDL WorldServer, Translation Management Systems | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 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 TMS 2011: Inner Peace

Posted by Nick Peris on June 28, 2011

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

The reasons for this are easy to understand:

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

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

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

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

Compatibiliy

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

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

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

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

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

Usability and Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reliability

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

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

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

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

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