I first wrote about the Glossary Converter on September 17, 2012… over three years ago. Not only is it a surprisingly long time ago, but I still meet people at every conference I attend who have never heard of this marvelous little tool, and in some cases never heard of the OpenExchange either. So when I toyed with the idea of writing an article about Xmas coming early and talking about the OpenExchange and all the goodies inside, part of me couldn’t resist writing about this tool again. In the three years since it was first released it’s morphed beyond all recognition and today it’s awash with features that belie it’s appearance.
I like to take a little credit for the emergence of this tool because back in 2012 I asked around trying to get someone to create one so that it was straightforward for anyone to create a MultiTerm Glossary from a simple two column spreadsheet… the sort of glossary that most translators use for their day to day needs. I was over the moon when Gerhard (the developer) was interested and created the tool I wrote about back then. But I can take no credit whatsoever for what the tool has become today and it’s well worth revisiting!
The Glossary Converter
By way of introduction to the features I’m going to start with the menu that appears when you click on “Settings” from the simply disguised user interface:
Five tabs that lead you into a wealth of capability that go well beyond the original simple glossary solution. Let’s start with the General tab.
The features in this tab allow you to do two things:
- Convert any of the filetypes listed to any of the filetypes listed!
- Use a MultiTerm template when creating a termbase
The first one is obvious and is explained by the table below, you can convert SDLTB (MultiTerm term base) to XDT (MultiTerm definition file and the exported MultiTerm XML), Excel (XLS, XLST, CSV, TXT), TBX, UTX or TMX! So here it’s possible to not only convert spreadsheets to MultiTerm termbases, but also to terminology exchange files, or translation memory exchange files.. and even back the other way. You can even use it to convert a spreadsheet to a TMX translation memory or the other way around… fantastic! If the cross section between products is blue you can convert between them:
The second thing is a very handy way to transform data based on predefined definitions or existing Termbases. So you can have different definitions (xdt files) saved for different usecases, maybe separate extracts for different translators depending on language pairs, domain info, who the client is etc. Then when you need to create an export of your larger MultiTerm termbase based on these definitions you just drag and drop, select the definition you want, and set the format you want the termbase to be converted to. Very smart and a real timesaver.
This tab is what you’d expect… a variety of settings related to handling terminology in spreadsheets. I recall with fondness the discussions with our product management team many years ago about how MultiTerm should not really be exported to a spreadsheet and why the internal csv export could never be better than it is. The reality is everything they told me is true, and for terminology management as a whole there are very few alternatives to MultiTerm in terms of it’s overall capabilities. However, they didn’t really consider the usecase for the vast majority of the SDL Trados userbase and this is not only far simpler, but it requires a different approach. The Glossary Converter has not only provided this alternative approach but it has exceeded expectations and makes it possible to handle all but the most complex tasks in Excel. This has proven to be of immense benefit to not only the translation community, but to terminologists as well and has almost made “MultiTerm Convert” redundant!
The spreadsheet settings support;
- “fast mode” for reducing the conversion time when using large and complex spreadsheets,
- “tags” in the column headers for supporting the ability to use fields with the same name on different levels (Entry, Language, Index and term),
- “unprocessed XML” to support the use of cross references (hyperlinks) between a MultiTerm Termbase and a spreadsheet. This was something you previously needed to use MultiTerm Convert for, but no longer!
- “synonyms” used in your termbase. The safer way to handle spreadsheet conversion is to work on a single line per entry and use a separator to define the use of synonyms. But if you really want to you can also use a multi-line format… I’d recommend the help provided to see how that works, and why it’s hard to support.
It’s no surprise that the Glossary Converter is the most heavily downloaded application on the OpenExchange!
It’s these little bu##*!s that have been responsible for much of the difficulties faced by translators after they underwent training, learned how to create a simple bilingual termbase using the predefined templates in MultiTerm and ended up with a simple structure like this:
It’s great for the first few days when you’re really enthusiastic and think you’ll use all this metadata, but pretty soon it wears thin and then you try to import and export… major headache! This capability is fantastic for a terminologist who can configure this the way they wish, and then manage the terms as part of a complete lifecycle, but it’s not a simple concept to get your head around when you only want a glossary and have no interest in learning about all the capabilities MultiTerm has even if you do own it!
The Glossary Converter will create the structure on the left without batting an eyelid and it won’t confuse you by offerring you the enticing possibility to structure your termbase with a little more detail. However, it can do it if you want to!! That’s what this “Fields” tab is all about, and it supports your creation on the fly in an easy to use interface that is virtually on a single screen. It supports the full capability of MultiTerm in this regard, even allowing you to create picklists during a spreadsheet conversion, or use references to images. The best part is it then remembers what you did so the next time it’s just a drag and drop convert with no aditional work… you can also save your creations as templates you can load and use again to suit your needs at the time.
This tab holds two features that allow you to tailor the product a little, the UI language and the UI themes. The UI supports eight languages plus English (DE, ES, FR, IT, NL, PL, RO, RU… mostly translated by happy users all mentioned in the help) and if you’d like to translate this into another language Gerhard is happy to support this and will send you a resx or Excel file which you can translate and send back for inclusion in a future release. See the help for details!
I’m not sure where all the inspiration for the UI themes come from (there is a seasonal flavour!), but there is probably something for all tastes… I’ll admit to being a little conservative in this regard and I prefer the default green at the bottom of the image below.
Merging is the latest addition to the Glossary Converter and it allows you to do what it says… merge files. So you could merge three spreadsheets into one MultiTerm term base by dragging and dropping all three into the interface, or you could merge a spreadsheet and an existing term base by dropping them in the interface too… so simplicity itself you’d think! The available settings provide some control over what you are merging and can help reduce loss of data, but may result in the need for careful quality control after the merge is complete. By way of example, and because I don’t want you to think the application is at fault, I have copied a couple of problems associated with merging that Gerhard provides in the help.
Synonymns (different word, same meaning)
When they are in the source, and you chose the source language to merge on, then you may suffer from “not enough” merging because the converter can only merge identical words, it has no concept of meaning. So here “trunk” and “boot” should have been merged as they are synonyms of “Kofferraum”:
Homonyms (same word, different meaning)
Here you may suffer from “too much” merging because if the converter sees the same word twice it merges. So here “lock” in a door is not the same as “lock” in a canal but they get merged anyway:
Gerhard has provided a lot more detail in the help about merging because it is fraught with complications due to different definitions, homonyms, synonyms, field names/types, retaining a Master termbase (helps with homonym problem), merging on entry number etc. So I’m not going to repeat it all here… these are all the things that MultiTerm handles reasonably well and the Glossary Converter does an excellent job of supporting it, but if you are going to try it make sure you understand exactly what you are merging and make sure you read the help section Gerhard provided… it’s a lesson on terminology management!! Sometimes it’s easier, especially if you have simple glossaries, to merge them in Excel and remove duplicates via the sorting mechanisms provided there. Then simply recreate the glossary.
The one final point I will make is that the interface in the latest version (version 4) introduces a traffic light system to make sure you are aware of any merging settings you have introduced. It would be very easy to forget and then run a conversion that merged when you were not expecting it!
The Glossary Plugin
Now, I can’t leave this article without giving a mention to the Glossary Plugin. This is another tool developed by Gerhard but using the Glossary Converter for most of it’s functions. The Glossary Converter is a standalone application, but the Plugin is integrated into Studio and looks like this:
It sits in the “Projects View” in the “Home” ribbon and has six functions as follows:
- Add : this feature can create a new empty termbase and add it to your Project in two clicks!
- Add (MT) : this calls up the MultiTerm wizard and allows you to create your term base the old fashioned way, but adds it to the active Project at the end.
- Import : this allows you to select any of the supported files (SDLTB, MultiTerm XML, Excel (XLS, XLSX, CSV, TXT), TBX, UTX, TMX) and they will be converted to a MultiTerm termbase and added to the active Project
- Export : this will export all the termbases that are enabled in your Project to the format specified in the settings of the Glossary Converter
- Clean : this will delete the selected termbases (a window appears showing the termbases) from your Project.
- Run GC : this runs the standalone Glossary Converter application
This is a great application because it simplifies the creation and adding of termbases to a Studio Project from pretty much any format you receive, and more importantly supports you in creating client specific term bases or glossaries which can then be provided in a variety of formats to your client when the job is complete.
In my opinion the introduction of the SDL Language Platform, and in this case the Glossary Converter, has been responsible for making the management of terminology for use in Studio more efficient and easier to handle than in any other tool. There is absolutely no reason why you should not be using MultiTerm for every project you work on, whether it’s for managing your own termbase or creating and managing one for your clients. You can keep it simple, or make it more complex, both with minimal effort. This kind of flexibility that can handle such a range of requirements doesn’t exist in any other translation tool!
Here’s the links again if you haven’t downloaded these applications yet:
And here’s a few resources which might be useful as they show the use of these tools in various scenarios:
- Creating a TM from a Termbase, or Glossary, in SDL Trados Studio
- Glossaries made easy…
- Great news for terminology exchange…
- If I knew then what I know now!
- Is MultiTerm really that hard to learn?
- Glossary to TM… been there, done that…
- Yanks versus Brits… linguistically speaking!
- What a whopper!
- Export for External Review – a detour
- FIT XXth World Congress – Berlin
- The ATA55 in Chicago and the SDL OpenExchange… which apps?
- Converting Wordfast resources… out with the old!
- Great news for terminology exchange…
- The Glossary Converter in practice
- Yanks versus Brits… linguistically speaking!
- Speedy Project Glossaries
- Glossary Plugin – importing a termbase from a spreadsheet
- Converting the Microsoft Terminology Collections to a MultiTerm Termbase
- More complex Glossary Converter
- Wordfast Glossary Conversion for SDL MultiTerm using the Glossary Converter
- Merging Glossaries or termbases with the Glossary Converter
- Merging multiple spreadsheets into one termbase…