Studio Tips

At the beginning of each year we probably all review our priorities for the New Year ahead so we have a well balanced start… use that gym membership properly, study for a new language, get accredited in some new skill, stop eating chocolate… although that may be going just a bit too far, everything is fine with a little moderation!  I have to admit that moderating chocolate isn’t, and may never be, one of my strong points even though it’s on my list again this year!  But the idea of looking at our priorities and setting them up appropriately is a good one so I thought I’d start off 2018 with a short article explaining why this is even important when using SDL Trados Studio, particularly because I see new users struggling with, or just not being aware of, the concepts around the prioritisation of filetypes.  If you don’t understand them then you can find code doesn’t get tagged correctly despite you setting it up, or non-translatable text is always getting extracted for translation even though you’re sure you excluded it, or even files being completely mishandled.

Filetype locations

So, what are the things you need to understand when working with filetypes, and I mean any filetype?  The first thing is where they are located.  There are essentially three places:

  1. your File -> Options -> Filetypes,
  2. your Project Settings -> Filetypes and
  3. your File -> Setup -> Project Templates -> “Template” -> Edit -> Filetypes.

They look the same, and probably originated from the same place, but they behave differently.  So first of all you should learn the difference between them.  I’d recommend you review this short article called “Tea and Settings” which is a brilliant explanation from Jerzy Czopik on the fundamental difference between the first two.  The short version is this:

  • All projects are created using filetypes in your File -> Options (unless you use Project Templates)
  • Once the Project has been created, any new files added to that Project will use the filetype settings in that Project, your Project Settings, and not File -> Options

So where do Project Templates come into it?  These are just a way to save different types of settings so you don’t have to keep editing your File -> Options.  Instead of editing them all the time you can save your settings with any name you like as a Project Template and then when you create your new Project you can just call up the template you wanted to use.  I have covered this topic before so perhaps review “Keep Calm and use your Project Templates…” for a bit more detail.  When it comes to filetypes Project Templates really come into their own because as we’re about to see Studio doesn’t always make things simple… so I’ll come back to this in a while.

Prioritising Filetypes

I’m guessing you already knew all about the things I have mentioned so far, didn’t you?  You might even know what I’m going to tell you next but another guess would be most of you reading this article won’t.  Using the correct location described above isn’t enough because you also need to make sure that the filetype in that location is actually going to be used when you create your Project.  Confused?  I’m not surprised, and for the most part you might have never noticed this at all and never thought it to be a problem… in fact it probably wasn’t a problem for the majority.  But if you work with Office files, especially since SDL Trados Studio 2017, then this is a very important piece of information to understand.

  • The order of the filetypes in your settings matters because Studio always uses the first one it comes to

What do I mean by that?  In the screenshot below I have taken my defaults and highlighted two areas:

  1. the Microsoft Office Filetypes
  2. The “Move Up” and “Move Down” buttons

I chose these particular filetypes because for three Microsoft applications, Word, Excel and Powerpoint we have a bewildering 13 different filetypes!  Now, there are good reasons for this technically, but it would be so much better if Studio didn’t care and just used the correct one in the same way Microsoft Office does, wouldn’t it?  For major differences it does, so it can tell the difference between a DOC and a DOCX, or an XLS and an XLSX for example.  But it can’t tell the difference between the two different DOCX filetypes or the three different XLSX filetypes.  So this is where you have to provide a little help if it’s important to you.  You can do this in two ways:

  1. Deactivate the filetypes you don’t wish to use, or
  2. Use the “Move Up” and “Move Down” buttons to put the one you want to use above the rest

I just used the words “So this is where you have to provide a little help if it’s important to you.“.  Why would it be important?  Let’s say you wanted to handle an Excel file that had been prepared as a bilingual Excel file (review “Bilingual Excel… and stuff!” for more information on this filetype).  This file is just an XLSX file, so you can make all the changes you like to the filetype settings to configure the Bilingual Excel filetype but Studio won’t ever see them with the default settings because it will open the Excel file using the “Microsoft Excel 2007-2016” filetype as it’s the first one on the list.  Another example, let’s say you were preparing projects with DOCX files that would be handled by Translators using SDL Trados Studio 2014 and it was important for them to be able to save the target files (assuming it was appropriate as the newer filetype is much better of course!) then the DOCX file would always be prepared with the “Microsoft Word 2007-2016” filetype and the “Microsoft Word 2007-2013” would never be used at all… your Studio 2014 translators would be able to open the files to work on them but they’d see error messages in Studio (just informational but worrying nonetheless) and they would not be able to save the target files.

So to set up your options to deal with just these two scenarios you would either do this where you only activate the filetype you want (I highlighted the filetypes that could be used for DOCX and XLSX):

Or you can prioritise the filetypes to be used first like this for example:

Now they are at the top of their group and will always be used first.

That all seems simple enough, but it means you have to do this every time you want to achieve something different, and if you forget to change your settings back you’ll get unexpected results, and as we know from “Tea and Settings” it means you have to start over.  So this is where your Project Templates can come in.  If you always create Studio Projects and don’t use the Single Document workflow (see ““Open Document”… or did you mean “Create a single file Project”” for more details, it’s a little old and we have the drag and drop approach in Studio 2017 but the principles are sound I think) then you have a consistent approach for your work.  If you need to use the “Bilingual Excel” filetype then just create a Template that has your filetype settings configured to achieve that for example.  You can have as many Project Templates as you like so it makes sense to use them to save having to keep changing your settings.

There are, as always, reasons why this approach would not work for everyone:

  1. You want to use the single document approach because you like organising your work with the SDLXLIFF files always saved in the same folder as your clients folders, and
  2. Your project consists of both a bilingual Excel file and a monolingual Excel file

The latter approach means you create your project with all the monolingual Excel files first (for example) and then change the filetype settings in your Project Settings (as we now know) and add the bilingual files to your existing project afterwards, or you add the files in two goes when you create the Project.  Add the monolingual files first, and then change your filetype settings here in the Project Wizard after adding the monolingual files:

If you’re using the single document approach then you can still change the settings by using the “Advanced” button when you open the file and this will take you to your Options so you can change the filetype settings to suit:

On a final note it’s worth pointing out that whilst I only used DOCX and XLSX as an example the same thing could apply to any of the filetypes in Studio, even if you just wanted different settings for different customers.  So the solutions are all there and you can work any way you prefer, but it’s important to understand how file selection works and which options in which location are being used because then you’ll always understand the fundamental mechanisms that dictate where changes need to be made and why.  Once you understand this it’s not too tricky either!


There are well over 200 applications in the SDL AppStore and the vast majority are free.  I think many users only look at the free apps, and I couldn’t blame them for that as I sometimes do the same thing when it comes to mobile apps.  But every now and again I find something that I would have to pay for but it just looks too useful to ignore.  The same logic applies to the SDL AppStore and there are some developers creating some marvellous solutions that are not free.  So this is the first of a number of articles I’m planning to write about the paid applications, some of them costing only a few euros and others a little more. Are they worth the money?  I think the developers deserve to be paid for the effort they’ve gone to but I’ll let you be the judge of that and I’ll begin by explaining why this article is called double vision!!

From time to time I see translators asking how they can get target documents (the translated version) that are fully formatted but contain the source and the target text… so doubling up on the text that’s required.  I’ve seen all kinds of workarounds ranging from copy and paste to using an auto hotkey script that grabs the text from the source segment and pastes it into the target every time you confirm a translation. It’s a bit of an odd requirement but since we do see it, it’s good to know there is a way to handle it. But perhaps a better way to handle it now would be to use the “RyS Enhanced Target Document Generator” app from the SDL AppStore? Read More

The handling of numbers and units in Studio is always something that raises questions and over the years I’ve tackled it in various articles.  But one thing I don’t believe I have specifically addressed, and I do see this rear its head from time to time, is how to handle the spaces between a number and its unit.  So it thought it might be useful to tackle it in a simple article so I have a reference point when asked this question, and perhaps it’ll be useful for you at the same time.

I have a background in Civil Engineering so when I think about this topic I naturally fall back to “The International System of Units (SI)” which has a clear definition on this topic:

Read More

Every now and then I see an application and I think… this one is going to be a game changer for Studio users.  There have been a few, but the top two for me have been the “SDLXLIFF to Legacy Converter” which really helped users working with mixed workflows between the old Trados tools and the new Studio 2009, and the “Glossary Converter” which has totally changed the way translators view working with terminology and in my opinion has also been responsible for some of the improvements we see in the Studio/MultiTerm products today.  There are many more, and AnyTM is a contender, but if I were to only pick my top three where I instantly thought WOW!, then the first two would feature.  So what about the third?  You could say I have the benefit of hindsight with the first two although I’m not joking about my reaction when I first saw them, but the third is brand new and I’m already predicting success!

Read More

I’m back on the topic of PDF support!  I have written about this a few times in the past with “I thought Studio could handle a PDF?” and “Handling PDFs… is there a best way?“, and this could give people the impression I’m a fan of translating PDF files.  But I’m not!  If I was asked to handle PDF files for translation I’d do everything I could to get hold of the original source file that was used to create the PDF because this is always going to be a better solution.  But the reality of life for many translators is that getting the original source file is not always an option.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the FIT Conference in Brisbane a few weeks ago and I was surprised at how many freelance translators and agencies I met dealt with large volumes of PDF files from all over the world, often coming from hospitals where the content was a mixture of typed and handwritten material, and almost always on a 24-hr turnaround.  The process of dealing with these files is really tricky and normally involves using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software such as Abbyy Finereader to get the content into Microsoft Word and then a tidy up exercise in Word.  All of this takes so long it’s sometimes easier to just recreate the files in Word and translate them as you go!  Translate in Word…sacrilege to my ears!  But this is reality and looking at some of the examples of files I was given there are times when I think I’d even recommend working that way!

Read More

A nice picture of a cutie cat… although I’m really looking for a cutie linguist and didn’t think it would be appropriate to share my vision for that!  More seriously the truth isn’t as risqué… I’m really after Qt Linguist.  Now maybe you come across this more often than I do so the solutions for dealing with files from the Qt product, often shared as *.TS files, may simply role off your tongue.  I think the first time I saw them I just looked at the format with a text editor, saw they looked pretty simple and created a custom filetype to deal with them in Studio 2009.  Since that date I’ve only been asked a handful of times so I don’t think about this a lot… in fact the cutie cat would get more attention!  But in the last few weeks I’ve been asked four times by different people and I’ve seen a question on proZ so I thought it may be worth looking a little deeper.

Read More

001Not Marvel Comics, but rather the number four which does have some pretty interesting properties.  It’s the only cardinal number in the English language to have the same number of letters as its value; in Buddhism there are four noble truths; in Harry Potter there are four Houses of Hogwarts; humans have four canines and four wisdom teeth; in chemistry there are four basic states of matter… but more importantly, for translators using Studio 2017 there are four ways, out of the box, to get started!

Now with that very tenuous link let’s get to the point.  Four ways to start translating, all of them pretty easy but they all have their pros and cons.  So getting to grips with this from the start is going to help you decide which is best for you.  First of all what are they?

  1. Translate single document
  2. Create a project
  3. Drag and drop your files
  4. Right-click and “Translate in SDL Trados Studio”

And now we know what they are should you use one process for all, or can you mix and match?  I mix and match all the time, mainly between 1. and 2. but let’s look at the differences first and you can make your own mind up.

Read More

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