Localization, Localisation

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

Posts Tagged ‘WorldServer’

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 »

SDL Trados Studio 2014: Sneak Peek

Posted by Nick Peris on August 12, 2013

SDL Trados Studio 2014 and SDL MultiTerm 2014 logos 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.

Ribbons

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.

Performance

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.

Among the expected improvements are faster project preperation including:SDL Trados Studio 2014 ribbons

  • 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.

Alignment

The retiring Trados 2007 WinalignOne 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.

Enterprise Packages

SDL Trados Studio 2014 Alignment

SDL Trados Studio 2014 Alignment

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.

SDL Trados Studio 2014 Alignment

SDL Trados Studio 2014 Alignment

Posted in SDL Trados Studio 2014 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

SDL WorldServer: Getting Started with Custom Reports

Posted by Nick Peris on October 22, 2012

The Report Center was completely upgraded with the last major release of WorldServer. Overall the new offering was very good, with a more modern interface and a more powerful underlying technology.

Yet upgrading the Report Center and starting to make the most of its full potential required a certain amount of effort. This is mostly because while it is accessible through WorldServer, the Report Center is in fact a completely separate application. Moreover,  it is made-up of three distinct elements, for which no integrated documentation exists: the queries, the reports layout and the repository site.

This post reviews the basic functionality of the current version and suggests ideas to improved it in the future.

Managing the Report Center

Adding Reports

Adding Jasper Reports

WorldServer Reports are designed offline (see next section). Once ready, they need to be imported:

  1. Open the Report Center (Tools > Report Center)
  2. Click View > Repository
  3. Right-click on the folder where you want to add a report
  4. Click Add Resource > JasperReport
  5. Enter a name for your report and upload the JasperReport file (.jrxml)

At first glance this works well and certainly is easy. There are however a few ways I think it could be made more efficient:

  • Add Version Control and Roll-back functions for successive uploads of the same JRXML. This is essential since the queries and layout cannot be edited via the Report Center.
  • Automatically read the Report Name and Resource ID from the JRXML file, to save manual steps and prevent typos.
  • Batch JRXML upload: this would be very useful to support upgrade effort, as well as to transfer reports from a Test server to a Production environment.
  • JRXML Download would help with future migration and simplify back-up processes
  • Finally some editable JRXML samples should be provided to show users how JasperReports can be used in WorldServer.

Data Sources

Creating a Report

Next, each Report has to be connected to a database. The setup steps may differ slightly depending on whether WorldServer uses Oracle or SQL, and drivers may need to be installed.

First, create a Data Source:

  1. Right-click on the folder where the reports are located
  2. Click Add Resource > Data Source
  3. Enter your Database details and test the connection before clicking Submit

You can now connect Reports to the Data Source:

  1. Right-click on a Report
  2. Choose Data Source > Select data source from repository
  3. Browse to the database you just connected

Here again, there is room for improvement in my opinion. The possibility to connect a location within the Report Center to a database would be helpful. Instead we have to connect each report one at a time.

Permissions

User access can be managed at both user or role-level. You can also setup different access for each report separately or for a folder within the repository. This is in keeping with one of WorldServer’s strengths, where permissions are extremely flexible, and relatively easy to fine-tune.

You could for instance have some reports only visible to Project Managers and others to Language coordinators. You could show linguists reports where the data only relates to their own work, or create Customer or Business Unit specific reports and then only grant access to them to people in selected groups.

Permissions can be edited by right-clicking on a report and choosing Permissions. Roles and Users are accessed via the Manage menu.

Inputs Controls

Search Parameters

A dialog box can easily be created to allow users to filter their searches or, more precisely, to set up the value of parameters to use when the report runs. In an SQL-based setup, percentage signs can be used for wildcards. A parameter added to the report during layout design is associated to each Input Control setup in the Report Center.

To create an Input Control:

  1. Right-click on Input Controls in the Repository
  2. Click Add Resource > Input Control and follow the steps on-screen

Note: the parameter name must match that from the Jasper Report (case-sensitive).

Once an Input Control is created it can be re-used for any number of reports:

  1. Right-click on the Report
  2. Click Edit > Controls & Resources > Add Input Controls and follow the steps on-screen

A Report can have several input controls, so the user could for example set a value for Project NameLanguage and Workgroup themselves, before running the Report. The Input Controls dialog also lets you save commonly used search parameters.

Overall this too works very well and is also  relatively easy to setup. My only criticism is the lack of documentation: there is no Online Help or Report creation guide apart from the Samples in the View menu.

Designing the Reports Layout

JasperSoft

The layout of WorldServer Reports cannot be designed or changed from WorldServer. The best way to do that is to embed your SQL query within a Jasper Report (.jrxml) using the JasperSoft iReport Designer. There is a free version available for download, which provides everything needed to design a WorldServer Report. Once again though, there doesn’t seem to be any WorldServer-related documentation available.

Jaspersoft iReport Designer

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  1. Connect iReport to your WorldServer database
  2. Create new report (File – New)
  3. Copy your query into the Query viewer iReport Query Edit button
  4. Click Read Fields iReport Read Fields button
  5. Go back to the Designer and drag 1 or more fields from the Report Inspector into the Detail area. This will automatically create headers which you can then rename, align etc.

Online vs. Offline

It can be time-consuming to pretty-up reports in iReport. The first way to gain efficiency is to make a choice between the way they look online and how clean the exports are. If you expect your users to consult the reports online, you may want to spend time making the report look good online, and load fast for example by breaking the output into pages. By opposition, if you expect the reports to be downloaded and their data further manipulated in Excel, you should instead make sure that the output doesn’t have empty lines or columns.

Re-using layouts

If you are creating several variations of a report, or migrating a number of reports between successive versions of the Report Center, it is worth trying re-use some of this tedious layout work:

  1. Open an existing JRXML in iReport
  2. Save it under an alternate name
  3. Overwrite or edit the query
  4. Click Read Fields iReport Read Fields button to update the list available in Designer
  5. Edit the Fields, Descriptions, and Parameters which need to be changed in the layout.

Editing Queries

SQL Server Management Studio

SQL server management studio

The query viewer in iReport is useful to a point but it doesn’t provide much feedback regarding syntax errors or other issues in queries. Another big limitation is that it doesn’t give any visibility into which Tables and Views are available in the database.

If your WorldServer uses an SQL database, you should consider using SQL server management studio when writing the queries. You can create and test your queries there before copying them to iReport, and browse through the database to get familiar with how the data is structured.

One thing to remember is that active and completed projects are in two separate locations. Just like in WorldServer you have a view for Active projects and another for Completed and Cancelled Projects, under Assignements, the database has the latter in dbo.archive Tables, and the former in dbo.active Views. Performance is much better when querying active projects, and the way the data is structured can also differ in the two locations.

You must have a very clear understanding of the following 3 WorldServer concepts.

  1. Project Group: all files, all languages, 1 file submission
  2. Project: all files, 1 language, 1 file submission
  3. Task: 1 file, 1 language

Their ID numbers are essential within queries because they link information associated with each of them. For example the language name is Project data, but the current owner is Task information. The 2 will need to be joined in order to create a report on current Task owners which lists the languages.

Lastly, any search parameter is better created directly in iReport once the query is finalised. Just replace them with an arbitrary value for testing purposes while working in the server management studio.

Learning resources

There are plenty of tutorials available for beginners and less-experienced database users, and a lot of them are free. I found SQL course.com very clear and concise. The interactive SQL interpreter is great for practicing and experimenting safely. W3Schools is another very good resource.

Posted in Beginner's Guide, SDL WorldServer | 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?

 

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