Back to school… again!

The image depicts a stylised portrait of a person wearing academic attire. The individual has a neatly trimmed beard and moustache, and they are wearing a blue graduation cap with a tassel on the right side. They appear to be smiling contentedly, with their eyes closed in a serene expression. The figure's graduation gown is dark blue, and they are wearing a white shirt with a green tie underneath. The image has a clean and modern vector art style, with flat colours and simple shapes for features.After I did my last studies, apart from all the endless mandatory HR type training we have to endure these days, I thought that would be it for any sort of formal training for me.  In fact the main reason for me doing my last formal studies, TCLoc Masters degree at the University of Strasbourg, was to fill the gaps I thought I had given a complete lack of education in the field I’ve been working for the last 17-years.  That degree was very useful and I definitely learned a lot and filled some gaps, but whilst there was an element of technical localization to it I think it only scratched the surface and didn’t really cover the sort of skills that I think are needed, not just for localization engineers, but also for professional translators and project managers, working in technical localization today.

These days I get involved in many interesting things within my work and one of these is working with the RWS Campus team supporting universities and students to help prepare them for a life in our industry.  One of our goals is to try and make sure that students can enter the workplace at an organisation like ours that provides dedicated localization services, and won’t have to be trained in the basics of technical localization skills.  There is always new things to learn as localization is an exciting and dynamic business, but a better more practical grounding would be really useful.  I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but our experience is that graduates fresh out of university often lack the basic skills to get started.

AI Generated: A vibrant digital banner illustrating an online academic conference on localization. It shows diverse attendees on computer screens, topics like 'Localization Tools', and a central figure, symbolizing Andrej Zito, delivering a talk. The setting merges formal education and practical training in the localization industry.

This seems a good place to get to the point of this article.  Each year for the last two years we have run an online academic conference for a couple of days covering careers in localization and more technical subjects around the tools we use.  I wrote about it in an article in April this year when we did the last one and you can get a feel for the sort of topics we cover… and maybe look out for the next one!

In that agenda a new academic partner we started to talk to this year delivered a talk called “Lean education: discover your dream job in localization“.  The talk was delivered by Andrej Zito, who founded Localization Academy, in order to help people find their way into the business by providing them with more practical based training they can put to use right away.  At the time the courses he was working on that would be of most interest to me weren’t quite ready, but I was sold on the idea, particularly since I could relate to his own background  and how he got into the industry.  There is 100% room for formal education, that is without question, there is also room for someone to step up and provide the more practical training that inevitably makes you invaluable when you have the skillsets he aims to deliver.  Since then some of the courses we discussed are available and you can find them through the Localization Academy.

Localization Engineer Course

Andrej offered me the opportunity to check the course out after I reviewed the preview a couple of weeks ago, so I duly went back to school and worked through the Localization Engineer Course every evening over the last week to check it out.  I’ll tell you first that this is a course that in my opinion every technical translator should do as it will absolutely help them to get more out of the CAT tools they’re using.  The questions I like to answer the most in our community are the ones that require a little more technical knowledge and this course would put me out of a job!

The course is delivered by Carlos García Gómez who, stealing a little of the bio from the course intro page, has 7+ years of experience working in the technology department of different language service providers such as Donnelley Language Solutions, SDL plc, and Vistatec.  Clearly the experience he has gained in this time makes him well suited to prepare and deliver a course like this… very impressive work.  Carlos also has his own blog here for those of you interested in “Artificial Intelligence & Natural Language Processing”.

A digital image showing a 14-day calendar, symbolizing the duration of an online localization course. Each day features icons for learning modules like language tools and technical skills. A clock in the corner highlights flexible study times, emphasizing evenings and weekends. The image conveys an organized, intensive learning experience.The course itself is a little more down to earth and really crams a lot of learning into a suggested 14-day period, so when you take the course yourself make sure you set aside enough time to really get the value from it.  It is online and self-paced so you can take your time and easily set aside a couple of hours each evening, or even just work through it at the weekends.

To give you a little idea of the content…

  • introduction to what localization engineering is all about
  • basics of file parsing, regular expressions and working with files
  • creating file parsers for Text files, XML, XLIFF, JSON etc.
    • Trados Studio was used when I did this but there are definitely plans to consider other tools as well
  • understanding file encodings, byte order marks, and using pseudo translation
  • localization of HTML and websites
  • software localization
    • Passolo was used here in addition to Trados Studio
  • a look at App localisation for IOS and Android
  • DTP work (Adobe products) and AudioVisual localization
  • localization of e-learning tools (RISE and Storyline)
  • a good overview of how to handle bugs in filetypes, what to look for and how to fix them
  • a great introduction to working with the Okapi framework and XBench
  • finishing off with a couple of days on automation where you’ll learn a little about the creation of efficient workflows using automation scripts and an introduction to programming
  • … and of course there is some introduction to working with AI as a tool to help you with your work in this space!

I really summarised this, but I can tell you the content is extremely wide-ranging and well thought out.  I think each of the days could probably be a weeks course on their own, yet I found there to be enough value to pique some interest in everything and encourage anyone doing the course, armed with these basics, to know how to improve their knowledge on their own with the huge amount of information available on the internet these days.

I would note that whilst a good portion of the course wasn’t completely new to me, I definitely learned a lot, and even in areas where I didn’t think I’d learn anything, I really did.  I’ve come away very motivated to look at things I had planned to write about when I got time, but now take a different approach in the way I position the material.  In fact my day job is getting in the way of my enthusiasm to get going!

If you hadn’t noticed by now I’m a big fan of what Andrej Zito has started here, and I think that despite the title of the one I did, “Localization Engineer Course“, I would recommend any translator working with CAT tools, and particularly technical translators, to take up the opportunity to improve their skills.  The RWS Community forums are full of posts from translators who would really benefit from the information provided on this course and would help them to feel a lot more comfortable having to deal with the sort of real life problems that are never covered in the traditional training material available.

I’d also encourage any student studying translation today and hoping for a career in this industry to look at this too.  You’ll be better prepared yourself, and your future employer will thank you for it!

There are free previews for all the courses available so why not take a look.  The list of courses is growing and if there is something missing you can suggest one too!

XML… unravelling chaos

Image of a ball of wool unravelling around the letters XMLWhilst I would definitely not claim to be an expert, writing this blog has allowed me to learn a reasonable amount about XML over the years.  Most of the articles I’ve written have been about explaining how to manage the many amazing features in the filetypes that are supported by Trados Studio… and of course how to deal with the many changes over the years as the filetypes have become more and more sophisticated catering for the demands of our customers and the changes in the technologies applied to XML in general.  The result of these changes has led to some… let’s say… less than user friendly interfaces and features and you’d certainly be forgiven if you thought things were becoming a little chaotic!

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Working under a cloud!

Image of a cloud of a thunderstorm with rain.In the heart of LingoVille, translator Trina was renowned for her linguistic prowess but was a bit behind in the tech world.  When her old typewriter finally gave out, she received a sleek new laptop, which came with OneDrive pre-enabled.  Initially hesitant about this “cloud magic,” she soon marvelled at the convenience of securely storing her translations online, accessible from anywhere, safeguarding her precious work from life’s unpredictabilities. This modern twist turned Trina from a tech-sceptic into a cloud enthusiast overnight.

And then she woke up!!

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Linguistic Alchemy to unlock AutoHotkey

A photorealistic image of a wizard performing linguistic alchemy, digital art.In the echoing halls of the Tower of Babel, myriad languages tangled, creating a confusion of tongues and leaving humans estranged.  Fast forward to the present day, professional translators stand as the modern-day heroes, bridging linguistic divides and fostering global connections.  Yet, these linguists often grapple with the technical juggernaut of AutoHotkey scripting.

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Helping the Help!

Image created with DALL·E, an AI system by OpenAI - “Helping the Help in the style of Richard Estes.”I really like this image created by DALL·E of a man… maybe a businessman… on a wall, putting down his newspaper and reaching down to offer help to the worker with a ladder.  Created with only this prompt – “Helping the Help in the style of Richard Estes.”  When we read about how ChatGPT is “only” an advanced autosuggest we really need to think about how it must have some understanding of what was previously said to be able to predict the suggestion.  DALL·E really demonstrates this well because it had to have enough of an understanding of the concept of help in terms of not only helping, but also the use of the word help as someone who could be employed to help (in this case maybe a caretaker or janitor)… and then think about how this could be represented as an image, and in the style of a photorealist painter I mentioned by name.  Then do all that in a matter of seconds.  Quite astonishing really. Continue reading “Helping the Help!”

Unlocking Linguistic Success: Navigating the Path to Translation and Localization Mastery for Academia’s Rising Stars

Created by DALL·E: “Create an ink sketch of the Vitruvian Man wearing a students mortar board in the style of Leonardo da Vinci.”The Studious Translator, a pen-and-ink illustration inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s style, depicts a student immersed in the world of translation and localization at a University participating in the RWS Campus academic programme.  Just as the Vitruvian Man embodies the ideal human proportions outlined by the Roman architect Vitruvius, this diligent student exemplifies the harmonious balance of linguistic mastery, cultural understanding, and technical acumen required for success in the field.  The drawing showcases the student in two (hidden) overlapping positions—one representing the precision of translation within a square, and another showcasing the adaptability of localization within a circle. This intriguing illustration not only highlights the student’s dedication to comprehending essential concepts but also their aspiration to innovate and refine them.  Although not the first to capture the essence of translation and localization, the Studious Translator gains iconic status as a symbol of the modern Renaissance in language and technology.  It serves as a testament to the interdisciplinary nature of these fields, weaving together mathematics, linguistics, and art.  The original drawing is carefully preserved in a climate-controlled archive at RWS Campus, exemplifying the programme’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of translation and localization professionals.

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The elephant in my room…

“In the style of Dali: the elephant in the room, sitting at the boardroom table discussing artificial intelligence.” DALL·EThe reaction I rarely see when discussing artificial intelligence with anyone is indifference.  The reactions I usually see are split between overflowing enthusiasm and overflowing concern.  I rarely have a conversation about them both.  But after writing a few articles on how useful it is, and obviously I spend most of my time in the overflowing with enthusiasm camp, I wanted to address the elephant in the room.

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The elusive regex with GPT-4

A DALL E generated image of running digitsWhilst the solving of regular expressions with ChatGPT seems like a great way to give yourself superpowers I have stayed away from writing about this usecase till now.  Yes, ChatGPT is great for those simple things that anyone with some basic knowledge could probably write themselves in the time it took to explain what was wanted.  But I like regular expressions… I’m definitely not a real expert, but I do like to play around with them and would consider myself above an average user.  So when I decided to test ChatGPT with a regular expression I asked it to solve something I have never been able to achieve on my own.  In fact I have never seen anyone else do this either… although I’m certain there are many people out there who would be very capable of doing it.  But when I’ve asked I have never had a satisfactory solution without using code, or without using multiple search & replace operations.

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When error messages attack: using ChatGPT to make peace with your users!

Cartoon: When error messages attack: using ChatGPT to make peace with your users!I’m sure everyone reading this is no stranger to the often completely unintelligible error messages that can be generated when software goes wrong!  You can even find in the most voted for ideas in the RWS Community ideas platform that is related to just that, “Get those cryptic error messages more human“.  As computers have become more and more complicated and software is  relying heavily on inbuilt technologies provided with the operating system, 3rd party libraries, and add-ons that use the APIs, it’s really no surprise that things can go wrong.  But do the messages really have to be so complicated and meaningless for the average user?  Why don’t developers make them easier to understand?

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ChatGPT + Powershell = Localization Superpowers!

DALL·E - Digital art: AI generating Powershell scriptsLocalization engineers are the miracle workers behind the scenes of localization workflows, and without them many of the projects we see couldn’t happen.  The skillsets they possess go far beyond the sort of things that most translators know how to do, and often require the ability to code.  I’ve already written a little about these sorts of things in the last three or four articles I published this month, mainly because the use of AI (tools like ChatGPT for example) is opening up the possibility for the rest of us mere mortals to benefit from the sort of things they do.  Today I’m extending on another such skill that I have introduced only once before back in 2013, a decade ago!  It is a very technical, and yet powerful thing to be able to tap into, so now with the help of ChatGPT I’m going to do it again!

Continue reading “ChatGPT + Powershell = Localization Superpowers!”