Useful tools

SDL Trados Studio is up to Studio 2017 which is the fifth major version since Studio 2009 was first released some eight years ago now.  During these eight years I think it’s fair to say we have seen less and less requirement for the old Trados features, yet despite that we do see some interesting tools making an appearance in the SDL AppStore that mirror some of the old functionality.  In fact some of these apps are quite recent and seem to have been driven by requests from users who miss some of the things you could do in Trados but still cannot do in the out of the box Studio solution.  So I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of these apps and if you are one of those translators who remembers all the good things Trados could do… and can I say forgotten the things it could not… then perhaps you’ll find these apps useful!

But before I look at these maybe a little reminder of some of the things discussed before as they are still useful and very retro!  First it’s worth reviewing Life without Trados as I covered many interesting apps in detail, apps like:

But that’s enough of what I have covered in the past, now let’s take a look at the things I haven’t!

Copy Tags

Some time ago I wrote an article on how to handle tags in Studio.  I think it’s pretty comprehensive and is still relevant today, but it missed a nice feature that was available in the old TagEditor relating to copying the tags only.  You had these icons which related to copying the previous, current or next placeables very quickly with keyboard shortcuts:

Studio will let you do this too, but it seems more complicated to many users and they just want to be able to quickly get the tags from the source into the target so they can translate around them.  In an example like this it’s far easier to add the text between the tags for some users than it is to place the tags as you go:

The Copy Tag app in the SDL AppStore (created by Jesse Good who is a regular app developer with some brilliant apps you can find here) is a smart little plugin that adds a shortcut and a menu option so you can quickly copy the tags only from the source to the target with a single action.  Once installed you can find this in your right-click menu:

The keyboard shortcut is customisable, but whether you use the keyboard or the right-click option it is a nifty little time saver and apparently very retro!

Vertical Review

Most users today have got to grips with the side by side editor in Studio… in fact most modern translation tools use this layout because it’s considered to be more productive than the horizontal layout.  HOWEVER… and I’ll write this in capitals because it’s a big HOWEVER… I often meet translators today who feel very strongly about this subject and they would much prefer to have the old layout that was possible in TagEditor or when translating in Microsoft Word with Workbench, a bit like this:

So you can see the source on top and the target directly underneath it as you work.  I can see how when reviewing that this would be a lot easier and saves on eye strain looking from side to side as you work through the document.  In fact I’d never thought about this too much until last week when I was looking at how Studio automatically handled SI units, and not being able to compare them easily with the source above the target to see the differences immediately was a bit of a strain.  But fortunately some help was at hand with another neat little retro app called Vertical Review that’s available on the SDL AppStore.  This app allows you to work through the file in the review window or in the Studio Editor and it shows you the view you need.  I thought it would be easier to show this in a short video:

This app was developed by Mikael Weiner who is a serial “great app” developer responsible for the Weblookup plugin, Word Count Copy, Integrated Segment Actions, Integrated Search Views and probably more I don’t even know about!!


You may be wondering why I’m covering this in here, after all Studio does have an alignment tool that is available to you as part of the product.  That’s true, but sometimes it can be a little tricky to use which is borne out by this article being one of the most read articles I have ever written, in fact the video is the most viewed video I have ever made by a long way!

So what do we have in the AppStore for this… well we actually don’t have anything, but you may not have realised that the old WinAlign that was part of Trados is installed with Studio, in fact it’s even installed with Studio 2017.  You can find it here:

c:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\SDL\T2007\TT\Winalign.exe

You can just create a windows shortcut from this file to your desktop and then you can also run this old tool as long as the files you are aligning are supported by Trados 2007.  Given the age of the product that may be a bit of a hurdle and you might have to downsave the files in the native application if possible to an older format, or perhaps use the Legacy Converter to create a TTX from the SDLXLIFF and then align them.  This works nicely and is a simple workaround but you do need to watch out for language codes in the TTX.  Studio will be using codes in some cases that WinAlign won’t know and then you’ll get errors, so just double check them with a text editor.  Just look for SourceLanguage=”ES-X-MO-SDL”  and lang=”ES-X-MO-SDL” for example.  In this case I would need to replace these modern codes for Spanish with SourceLanguage=”ES-ES” and lang=”ES-ES” and then all is ok.  You may not have to do this at all, but the number of languages available today has significantly increased, so if you get an error when you use Win Align just check these codes.

In case this is a little confusing I created a quick video to explain what I mean:

That’s it for this article… hopefully interesting with some useful tips inspired by the way things used to be back in the old days!!


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.

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There’s been a few ups and downs getting SDL Analyse off the ground, but it’s finally there and it’s worth it!  If you have no idea what I’m referring to then perhaps review this article first for a little history.  This app was actually released as the 200th app on the SDL AppStore in February this year, but in addition to the applause it received for its functionality there has been less positive aspects for some users that needed to be addressed.

But first, what does it do?  Quite simply it allows you to get an analysis of your files without even having to start Studio, or without having to create a Project in Studio.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog you may recall I wrote an article in 2014, and in 2011 before that, on how to do an analysis in Studio by using a dummy project.  In all that time there has been only one app on the appstore that supports the analysis of files without having to use Studio and this is goAnalyze from Kaleidoscope.  In fact goAnalyze can do a lot more than SDL Analyse but there is one significant difference between these apps that makes this one pretty interesting… you don’t require the Professional version of Studio to use it.  But it’s also this difference that has been the cause of the ups and downs for some users since SDL Analyse was released.  In order to resolve the problem of needing to use the Project Automation API, which needs the Professional version of Studio, the app needed to use a windows service that was hooked into Studio.  For the technically minded we had a few things to resolve:

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… in with the new!

Although I’m not part of the core support team anymore the knowledgebase has always been something that held a particular interest for me.  When I joined SDL in 2006 we had two knowledgebase systems, each integrated into the support systems that were being used at the time.  These were Salesforce and RightNow Technologies.  The first big change I was involved in with regard to systems was moving the support teams onto one ticketing system and one knowledgebase.  We wanted Salesforce as the ticketing system as it gave good visibility into the tickets being raised to everyone at SDL because Salesforce was being used as the CRM tool of choice.  But in those days the knowledgebase component wasn’t great, so we adopted a new system.  The system we chose was Talisma.

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001aWhat a horrible name… lurkers!  It carries all kinds of negative connotations from science fiction monsters to the stuff of nightmares where we think of spying and being followed by something or someone we don’t like.  Of course I’m not using this term in these contexts so I better explain.  I’m talking about communities and user participation, or more specifically about users who read and observe but rarely contribute to the conversations at all.

Community managers often think about user participation based on a 90:9:1 rule where 90% of users are referred to as lurkers who read all the activity but don’t contribute themselves, 9% contribute from time to time and 1% are pretty active and probably account for most of the contributions.  I guess I can see why this negatively charged name is used, but in addition to being a horrible name it doesn’t really do justice to how important this group of community users are.

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001In 2013 I wrote an article called “Solving the Post-Edit Puzzle” which was all about finding a way to measure, and pay for post-editing translations in a consistent way.  Then in 2015 I wrote another called “Qualitivity… measuring quality and productivity” that was all about everything Post-Edit Compare could do but then added many layers of detail and complexity through Qualitivity to support Quality Measurement including a TAUS DQF integration, and incredible metrics that are still not matched by any tool today that I am aware of, and are so good that they are often used to support academic research into translating and post-editing behaviour.

This is all great stuff and I have always been a huge fan of the work that Patrick Hartnett has done on all of the applications he developed over the years.  You don’t often find experienced developers with indepth domain knowledge like this and his apps have always been really relevant to solving problems in the localisation workplace.  So I wanted to bring up and discuss the app that was actually the predecessor to these great apps I just mentioned.  It was also an app that was no longer supported once it’s first successor, Post-Edit Compare, was released.  The app was released around 2011 I think and was called SDLXLIFF Compare.

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001It’s been a while since I wrote anything about the SDLXLIFF Toolkit.. in fact I haven’t done since it was first released with the 2014 version of Studio.  Now that we have added a few new things such as SDLPLUGINS so that apps are better integrated and can be more easily distributed with Studio we have launched a new version of the toolkit for Studio 2017.  What’s new?  To be honest not a lot, but there are a couple of things that I think warrant this visit.

First of all, the app is now a plugin and this means it loads faster, is always available and there are a few tricks to being able to get the most from this.  Secondly, there are a few fixes to the search & replace features that make it possible to complete tasks that Studio will fail with and to do this the API team completely rebuilt the regex engine.  So whilst you won’t see too many changes, there are a few under the hood.

The best way to illustrate this is to show you so I have created a short video below where I have tried to explain how best to use the toolkit now it’s a plugin and not a standalone application, and I used the problems described below to demonstrate how it works.  If you want to know what else it can do I have reproduced part of the original guide below the video as that seems to have been lost over the years.  This might be helpful for a few of the more obscure features you may not have realised were possible.

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