What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Shakespeare’s soliloquy, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet isn’t allowed to be with Romeo because his family name is Montague… sworn enemies of the Capulet family.  Of course she doesn’t care about his name, he’d still be everything she wanted irrespective of what he was called.  The rose would still smell as sweet irrespective of what it was called.  “Trados”, “SDL” and “RWS” have endured, or enjoyed, a feuding history as competitors in the same industry.  Our names are our brand and now that they’re changing do we still smell as sweet?  Sadly things don’t end well for poor Romeo and Juliet… but in our story we fare a little better!

A little history…

Trados… Trados was first launched in 1984 in Stuttgart, Germany (the same year I joined the Army, and was posted to Hameln, Germany), it was acquired in 2005 by SDL (the year before I joined them), and now in 2020 SDL has been acquired by RWS.  In all that time the name “Trados” has never gone away.  When SDL took the reins the name became “SDL Trados” and behind the scenes we tried really hard to drop the name “Trados”.  This was mainly because of the introduction of “SDL Trados Studio” where people spoke about “Trados” for everything and at the time you didn’t know whether they were referring to “Studio” or the old “Translator’s Workbench” and “TagEditor”.  We wanted a clear distinction because “Trados”, like Montague, carried a lot of baggage from the past and we wanted to start afresh, improving support, product and everything we did.

But despite our best efforts the name “Trados” would not go away.  When we launched “Studio” all the old “Trados” users said it was just “SDLX” which was the competing product developed by SDL.  The “SDLX” users said it was just “Trados” with a different skin.  The truth is it’s more “Trados” than “SDLX”… and in many ways this was an unfortunate decision, but it was driven by the market leaders at the time, “Trados”, who were certainly leading the charge in our development teams.  Under the hood I think “SDLX” might have been a better choice to base the new “Studio” on… but no use crying over spilled milk!

Interestingly my wife, who doesn’t work in this industry, could associate with the work I was doing when I used the name “Trados” and found the suggested name “SDL Studio” a bit… well… nothing!

So, what’s in a name?  Apparently everything from how it’s influenced the development of the tools we use today, to how it is instantly familiar and preferable to someone who knows nothing about what we do.

Today we’re part of RWS and now we’re faced with the question of what do we do with the brand name SDL?  So let’s look at how this is going to affect us as users of the technology… will it be RWS Trados Studio, rwsxliff, rwstm etc?  The answer to this is threefold:

  1. Trados will be the brand name
  2. sdl*** will remain as a filetype, namespace, plugin reference etc.
  3.  SDL will also remain as a legal entity, so we become “SDL Part of the RWS Group”.  So  existing contracts, EULA’s, will remain in place until notified otherwise.

I’m not going to talk more about the legal aspects as I’m not qualified to do so… but hopefully the information in point 3. is enough for most people.  If it’s not I’d recommend you contact your account manager, or your contact in RWS, and discuss your situation with them.


I’ll keep this simple and just list some of the products that we intend to rebrand over the coming months, and also a few that we don’t control but will be changing as well… old name on the left and new on the right!

First, the ones the readers of this blog are likely to be the most familiar with…

SDL Trados Studio Trados Studio
SDL MultiTerm MultiTerm
SDL Passolo Passolo
SDL Trados Business Manager Trados Business Manager
SDL Language Cloud RWS Language Cloud
SDL Trados Live Team Trados Live Team
SDL Trados Live Essential Trados Live Essential
SDL Trados GroupShare Trados GroupShare
SDL Trados GroupShare Trados GroupShare
SDL AppStore RWS AppStore

Generally you can see the idea… all products with the exception of Trados Business Manager (which was BaccS) are reverting to their original and well-known brand names (Trados, Passolo, MultiTerm).  Language Cloud and the AppStore are more of a platform and these will adopt RWS in the names.

On the AppStore… there are over 300 plugins and standalone applications related to Language Technology (the others would be Web Content… another part of the business that has also wrestled with rebranding) and 55 of these are related by name to the Trados family of products, SDL Machine Translation, Kaleidoscope.  Or rather 55 have these names AND they are maintained by the AppStore team.  I’m not going to mention all these apps in here… but you will start to see some changes over the coming months.  For example, here’s a few we have already changed:

SDL Batch Anonymizer Trados Batch Anonymizer
SDL Trados Business Manager Connector Trados Business Manager Connector
SDL Analyse Trados Analyse

So the same principle for rebranding applies here as well.  Any apps developed by other developers who are not part of RWS we will not be changing.  It makes sense for those developers to adopt the same strategy as eventually the old names will be forgotten… but they can do this in their own time.  A name change may seem trivial to you, but it’s not.  It affects the way the apps are integrated into the products and the way they are recognised for updates, it affects websites, marketing material and many other things.  So we can only put a timescale to our own efforts and will support others as much as we can to help their transitions in the future.

A bigger surprise relates to “SDL Machine Translation” which you may already be aware of as the press announcements went out earlier this week.  Even though it’s a surprise it still follows the same principle of adopting the original and well known brand names.  The “Language Weaver” brand is very well known in the research community already, and its name originated from Warren Weaver who was a pioneer of machine translation back in the 1940’s.  Notwithstanding that, I noticed that Jost Zetzsche tweeted earlier this week about how beautiful the term “Language Weaver” is and he’s absolutely right.  I’m certain this was also not lost on the original founders of “Language Weaver” back in 2002.

SDL acquired them in 2010 and name gradually disappeared.  I’m really glad to see it back!  Where this will be obvious to Trados Studio users is in the use of these products:

SDL Machine Translation Cloud Language Weaver Cloud
SDL Machine Translation Edge Language Weaver Edge

You may not see all these changes in the translation products just yet… but over the coming months it will happen.  Hopefully, if you’ve read this far there will be no surprises or confusion!

If you’re interested to learn more about the changes related to machine translation products at RWS, as I have not mentioned “Iconic Translation Machines” who will also be adopting the “Language Weaver” brand, then I’d recommend you visit the new Language Weaver website and watch the video series there.

filetype, namespace, plugin reference etc.

I’ve been asked many times already, and I’ve even seen some rather “interesting” discussions in the public forums, about SDLXLIFF, SDLTM, SDLFTSETTINGS, SDLPPX etc.  Are we going to change these to RWS?

The answer is no… we are not.  A couple of technical reasons why…

  • it’s a huge effort in development fraught with the potential for bugs
  • many of these filetypes are handled by our tech partners, our competitors, integrators etc.  If we change them we break all of these things and cause a lot of unnecessary problems in the supply chain

A couple of lies I just made up…

  • it’s a way to retain the name “SDL” for posterity
  • it’s a happier ending for our Romeo and Juliet story…


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A file with a view…

I started thinking about “A room with a view” by E. M Forster when I contemplated how to start this article.  But as you can see from the images on the left my mind wandered from this idea and was focused more on the “view”.  This is quite possibly because our R&D team started a “Working from home” distance challenge to cover as much distance as you can every day for a month by physically getting out of your office/home and taking some fresh air.  A great initiative in these days of working from home where it’s all too easy to never leave your desk!  Walking, running, cycling and even swimming were acceptable activities and you get the distance converted into points based on the type of exercise you are doing.  You do have to track the activity and you have to take a few pictures as evidence of your efforts… but that brings me back around to my topic for the article… the pictures, or more specifically the views.  Yes, this is a very tenuous link indeed with the actual topic which is studioViews!

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Short term memories…

“Not only is my short-term memory horrible, but so is my short-term memory.”  I have no idea who this quote can be attributed to, and its certainly not original, but it is quite appropriate when I start to think about the evolution of Trados.  Ever since Trados Studio was launched you can be sure to find many “experts” in places like ProZ and even the SDL Community recommending you don’t upgrade because there is no difference compared to the last version.  To be fair, if you only use a fraction of the features despite having used the software for a decade, then it probably is like this.  The alternative being these “experts” have very short-term memories.

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Psst… wanna know a few more things about file types?

I wrote under this title back in 2013 and provided a bit of information about the Word filetypes in Studio.  It was a pretty popular article and I always meant to circle back and do some more.  Seven is a lucky number so now we’re in 2020, seven years later, I thought I’d do it again… and it’s also just as long, so grab a coffee first!

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A Private AppStore…

All the apps come in these places
And the apps are not the same
You don’t look at their faces
And you don’t ask their names
You don’t think of them as human
You don’t think of them at all
You keep your mind on the money
Keeping your eyes on the wall
I’m your private AppStore, I don’t cost no money
I’ll do what you want me to do…

Every time I think the words “Private AppStore” that song comes into my head and leaves me with an earworm for a while.  Funny, but true!

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Some you win… some you lose

When we released the new Trados 2021 last week I fully intended to make my first article, after the summary of the release notes, to be something based around the new appstore integration.  The number of issues we are seeing with this release are very low which is a good thing, but nonetheless I feel compelled to tackle one thing first that has come up a little in the forums.  It relates to some changes made to improve the product for the many.

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Not your usual stuff!

Time seems to be going faster as I’m getting older as it doesn’t seem that long ago since we saw the release of the 2019 version of SDL Trados Studio.  But here we are, it is that time again and many users will already have noticed they have a shiny new version in their account… SDL Trados Studio 2021.  Fast as it is, we don’t want to do these product launches too often because I can tell you it’s a major undertaking requiring no small amount of coordination between the product management teams, core development teams, AppStore team, support teams, customer success teams, marketing teams, sales teams, back office teams, IT teams, 3rd party developers who provide plugins and more.  In addition to this we often have other projects on the go and many of the teams worked on the new sdl.com website which also went live this week, AND everyone did all of this while having to work isolated from their colleagues while working from home.  Quite an achievement and I certainly feel proud to be part of this SDL team, and not just because of how well they all work together.

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The last few years have seen some chatter around the topic of “lights-out project management” which is an idea referring to the automation of tasks, particularly through the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence), so that human intervention is not required.  Ideally, of course, allowing project managers to concentrate their efforts on other, more productive and value-added activities.  The goal of reducing the time spent on administrative tasks is nothing new and some attempts to achieve this can be more of a false economy because of the “hidden” technical restrictions under the hood of the tools used.

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Voice or Machine Translation?

Post Survey Note: Thank you to all those who completed the survey. It’s no longer live, but you can see the final results in the article.

For the last couple of years I’ve been enjoying the TCLoc Masters degree at the University of Strasbourg.  It’s been a really interesting time for me helping to fill in a lot of gaps and widen my technical knowledge around localization, and introducing me to the world of Technical Communication in general.  This latter part was particularly interesting because half of our business at SDL relates to this; so having spent my time since 2006 working with our localization products it’s been an eye opener in many ways.  I have done this in my own time and not as part of my job, but TCLoc does look like a course that’s tailor made for SDL employees!

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“The badass is an uncommon man of supreme style. He does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants.” (Urban Dictionary by dougdougdoug).  There are in fact many definitions of what a badass is, but I like this part of one of the definitions  because it really reflects what this article is about and why it’s needed.  No clues so far… but let’s think anonymization!

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