square pegs in round holes…

01It’s all about the termbase definition when you want to merge termbases, or import data into MultiTerm termbases.  The XDT… otherwise known as the MultiTerm Termbase Definition file is the key to being able to ensure you are not trying to knock square pegs into round holes!  I’ve written in the past about the flexibility of MultiTerm and it’s this flexibility that can make it tricky for new users when they try to merge their collections of termbases together, or add to their data by importing a file from a colleague.

02So what do we mean by definition?  Let’s think about keys as I think this is quite a good analogy… the four keys in the image on the right will all open a lock, but they won’t all open the same lock.  If you want one of these keys to open another lock then you need to change its shape, or it’s “definition”, to be able to open the lock.  A termbase definition works in a similar way because MultiTerm is flexible enough to support you creating your own lock.  That lock might be the same as someone else’s, but theirs could also have a different number of pins and tumblers which means your key won’t fit.

With a termbase we aren’t talking about keys and locks, we’re talking about terminology data and termbases.  The data (the key) is structured in a particular way (the definition) so that when you import it into the termbase (the lock) it will be possible to use it correctly.  So in a nutshell it’s all about making sure that the data you want to import has been based on a definition that is useful for your termbase.

You can see the definition of your termbase by going to the Termbase Management view in MultiTerm and clicking on Definition in the Catalog Categories.  I’m not going to show this now because it’s there in detail in the post I mentioned earlier about MultiTerm flexibility, also in this post about the Glossary Converter and its many features and I’ll also show this in the video at the end.  You can also export this definition as a file with an XDT extension which can be used to create a new empty termbase that follows exactly the same structure you defined.  This can be very useful if you wish to create a smaller subset of your termbase that contains a subset of the terms within it.  In MultiTerm you would just right-click on Definition and save it, and then export the terms you wanted to share for the new termbase, or to share with other users.  To export the terms you would just right-click on Export, make sure you have selected the type of export you want and choose Process…. don’t ask me why, I’ve never understood why this term is used instead of Export.  Perhaps the development team just thought it sounded funny to say Export -> Export rather than Export -> Process.  In fact as I write this I think it would be much better to call the menu items Export Options and Import Options and then right-click to select Export or Import as needed.  That would make more sense in my mind.  But I guess that once you know this rather unintuitive process it’s ok!

There is however an easier way to get this stuff out of MultiTerm if you want to export all the terms with or without all of the additional fields that might have been created in your master Termbase.  You can also use this easier method to merge termbases together without having to go through the export/import process at all.  By now you have probably guessed I’m talking about the wonderful Glossary Converter again!  There are many options in this tool to support merging termbases and I really recommend you read the help for the Glossary Converter to understand this better because it’s a far more detailed explanation than I intend to give here and has been written by someone who knows more about the inner workings of MultiTerm than anyone I know.  It’s also something I have touched upon before in this same article, so you can find an abridged version in there.

I just want to show you how it’s done… so (almost) no more writing for me or reading for you, just take a look at the video.  I have tried to keep it fairly straightforward and have looked at these things:

  1. Quick overview of the “square peg in a round hole” problem
  2. A look at how to see the definition and how to save it and export or import your terms in MultiTerm
  3. A walk through the Glossary Converter to handle these kinds of scenarios

The Glossary Converter cannot handle every scenario you can think of, and for more sophisticated usecases MultiTerm or Excelling MultiTerm (a great app from Kaleidoscope) is the way to go.  But for the vast majority of use cases a translator is ever going to come across I think the video should be useful.  So here we go…

Duration: Approx. 22 mins

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