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Useful tools

Ever since the release of Studio 2009 we have had the concept of Language Resource Templates, and ever since the release of Studio 2009 I’d risk a bet that most users don’t know what they’re for or how to use them.  To be fair this is hardly a surprise since their use is actually quite limited out of the box and access to the goodies inside is pretty hard to get at.  It’s been something I used to see users complain about a long time ago but for some years now I rarely see them mentioned anymore.  This article, I hope, might change that.

But before anything else I should explain what a Language Resource Template is.  If you open a Translation Memory in your Translation Memory Management View, and then go to your settings you’ll see something like this:

Variable List

In practice, “variables” in Studio are words or phrases that don’t change at all when you translate them.  So it’s useful to be able to ensure they are handled automatically in Studio by defining lists containing these “variables”.  I’ve covered these in the past… some 6 or 7 years ago!

Abbreviation List

By default Studio will segment sentences at the end of a sentence.  But if you use “abbreviations” in the middle of your sentences like acc. (according to), Cert. (certificate) or Pharmacol. (pharmacology, pharmacological) for example then you don’t want the sentences to break at these points.  For some languages there are default sets of “abbreviations“, but you can customise the list to suit your needs.

Ordinal Follower List

In some languages ordinal numbers can be followed with a fullstop, and when this happens you don’t want the sentence to break at this point.  In German the date 25th December would be written as 25. Dezember.  In order to prevent the sentence from segmenting after the 25. Studio allows you to enter Dezember.  Again there are defaults for some languages, but you can add anything you like to the ordinal follower list to control segmentation in some way.  For example in my sentence before last you could add the word Studio to the list if you wanted to prevent the sentence from segmenting between 25. and Studio.

Segmentation Rules

There are default rules for every language that define how sentences are segmented.  They normally cover a “Full stop rule” and rules for “Other terminating punctuation”.  I’m pretty sure they are also exactly the same defaults used for every language (I only checked a few) so you might want to change these to suit.  Certainly there are many reasons for adapting these rules and I have addressed these on and off over the years:

All of these things are what you will find in a Language Resource Template and you can create a template without the Translation Memory from the same menu you might use to create a Translation Memory when you are working in the Translation Memories view:

It looks like this:

So that’s all interesting, and they are very useful.  But the problem with them is that they are applied on the Translation Memory.  They are not a separate resource that you could reuse on a different Translation Memory, unless you were creating a new one.  So if you had 20 Translation Memories and they all used the same Language Resources then making a change to just one of these resources would mean you have to make this change twenty times.  Painful, but reluctantly doable once.  But if you have more Translation Memories, and if you regularly update them then this probably becomes unworkable for most users pretty quickly.  I aso didn’t mention that these rules control the source and the target segmentation, so if you do a lot of alignment then you can double the effort described; and if you handle more than one language pair then you can multiply all of that effort by each language pair you are responsible for maintaining!

Phew… is it any wonder many users are not familiar with Language Resource Templates?

applyTMTemplate

You may be familiar with the extremely useful Apply Studio Project Template application developed in 2015 which allows you to quickly apply the settings in a Project Template to any Studio project you like.  Well, we had an idea to take the same principle and make it possible to apply the settings in a Language Resource Template to any number of Translation Memories you like.  This way you can maintain at least one template and only have to change this one to be able to apply the changes to hundreds of others.  Pretty cool!  You can find the applyTMTemplate application on the SDL AppStore here.

After installing the plugin you’ll find it in the Add-Ins menu in all the Views in Studio, like this:

And if you’re a keyboard jockey then you can also set a custom shortcut for this feature in your File -> Options -> Keyboard Shortcuts… maybe useful if you do a lot of updating TMs:

To demonstrate how this app works I created 12 Translation memories out of six different language pairs by also creating TMs in the opposite direction.  I then created one single Language Resource Template and edited all four of the resources for each of the four languages.  All I did then was select the Language Resource Template, tick all the resources I wished to be applied (these are actually checked by default), drag and dropped all 12 Translation Memories into the window and clicked on Apply.  Almost instantly the resources I added into this single template were applied to all of the TMs:

You can see a visual confirmation that the operation was successful as all of the source and target languages have a tick against them.  If a language fails, and I did find one in testing (which will probably be resolved in due course) then the TM that failed will be displayed something like this:

Here the resources for Swahili (Congo) failed to update, but the rest did.  I’m not sure where the error comes from at the moment but it was only when I decided to try a slightly exotic language for fun that I discovered the problem.  I have no doubt it will be identified and resolved in due course… but for now it serves as a good example of what will happen if a language fails to update.  Now that I know this I could go in and manually update this one, but that’s a small price to pay compared to all the work I’d have to do for all of the languages before this application was made available!

Some friendly words of warning

As with all Translation Memory operations, always back them up before you carry out any kind of operation on them and thoroughly test how they work and can be exported after these Language Resource Operations.  Your Translation Memories are valuable assets!

And unlike Translation Memories which have a pop-up to show you where they are when you hover over them in the Translation Memory view, like this:

Language Resource Templates don’t do that.  So don’t forget where you put them or you’ll be searching your computer for *.sdltm.resource files to find out where they are.  I only mention this because I had the very problem twice!  I can only think that the lack of awareness around Language Resource Templates is why nobody ever noticed!  Perhaps this will change now we have this great tool that brings the concept of templates for Translation Memories a new lease of life!

When I write these articles I always start with thinking about the image at the top.  I do this for two reasons, the first is because it usually helps me think of some bizarre introduction (like this!) that helps me start writing, and the second is because every now and again I like to play around with Gimp which is the free image software I occassionally use.  It’s always nice to spend a little time doing something frivolous because it’s good thinking time without being distracted by the job!  I don’t really know how to use this software at all, but it’s fun seeing what turns out… and I confess I often use a combination of powerpoint and Gimp simply because some things are just easier in powerpoint!  Eventually I might actually learn how to use it properly… I’ll keep practicing anyway.

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There are people who believe that the original intention of the internet during its inception in the 1980’s was to put the power of information in the hands of its users.  In fact the last three or four decades has seen the return of the wild wild west with the internet, e-mail, mobile technology, social media, online shopping, big data, cloud computing and now the internet of things.  All of this has been accessible to anyone, and anyone with the ability to create a website can give the impression they are far more trustworthy and capable than they actually are.  The way the growth of the internet has taken place has meant that only large organisations are able, in theory, to provide “security” and “trust” and we rely on them to validate our financial transactions, willingly handing over our personal data so that we no longer have any control over what happens with it.  Since the global social media phenomenon we even hand this data over to less secure environments sharing our lives with the world and in the process becoming less and less oblivious to the implications of what we share.  Certainly a far cry from the original idea of a secure and private network for the users, and today individuals have next to zero control over their personal data at all.

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Studio 2019 has arrived and it brings with it some nice features on the surface, and some important improvements under the hood… but it also brings with it a lot more upgrades than just Studio, and I don’t just mean MultiTerm!  The SDL AppStore is one of the unique benefits you get when you work on the SDL technology stack and there are hundreds of apps available that can provide additional resources, custom filetypes, file converters, productivity enhancements, manuals, etc.  When you upgrade your version of Studio you are also going to have to upgrade your apps.  Many of the apps are maintained by the SDL Community team and these have all been upgraded ready for use in Studio 2019, but the majority have been created and maintained by others.  I’ve written this article to explain what you need to look out for as a user of SDL Trados Studio or MultiTerm, and also as a reference guide for the developers who might have missed the important information that was sent out to help them with the process. Read More

It could be said that translators come into the industry for the love of language, and the creative nature of the work, writing beautiful translations that at least do justice to the original texts.  It might even be true for many… but let’s face it, very few people can afford to do this for a full career without thinking about the money!  So it’s all the more surprising to me that translation vendors don’t provide a mechanism for dealing with the money in their toolsets.  Sure, you can have an analysis that can be used as the basis of a quote or an invoice, but you don’t see anywhere that deals with the money!  The larger Translation Management Systems have features for doing this, or they integrate with larger Enterprise systems for accounting and project management, but what about the translators?  How do they manage their business?

Well… there are applications on the SDL AppStore that can help with this in some ways.  For example:

  • SDL InQuote – an interesting, sometimes problematic application, that can allow you to create quotes and invoices based on the analysis files in your Studio projects
  • Post-Edit Compare – a wonderful application that in addition to carrying out a post-edit analysis of the work you are doing can put a value to it based on your rates.  But it doesn’t create quotes or invoices.
  • Qualitivity – another wonderful application that in addition to tracking just about everything you do in Studio can put a value to it based on the post-edit analysis or on a time basis.  But it doesn’t create quotes or invoices either.

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There’s always been the occasional question appearing on the forums about data protection, particularly in relation to the use of machine translation, but as of the 25th May 2018 this topic has a more serious implication for anyone dealing with data in Europe.  I’ve no intention of making this post about the GDPR regulations which come into force in May 2016 and now apply, you’ll have plenty of informed resources for this and probably plenty of opinion in less informed places too, but just in case you don’t know where to find reliable information on this here’s a few places to get you started:

With the exception of working under specific requirements from your client, Europe has (as far as I’m aware) set out the only legal requirements for dealing with personal data.  They are comprehensive however and deciphering what this means for you as a translator, project manager or client in the translation supply chain is going to lead to many discussions around what you do, and don’t have to do, in order to ensure compliance.  I do have faith in an excellent publication from SDL on this subject since I’m aware of the work that gone into it, so you can do worse than to look at this for a good understanding of what the new regulations mean for you.

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I’m pretty sure that when we started to build the new Customer Experience Team in Cluj last year that there was nothing in the job description about being competitive… but wow, they are!!!  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t competitive, because I know I am, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had these kinds of feelings that keep me up at night.

To some extent I think the training requirements at SDL are the perfect fuel for this type of environment and I haven’t made up my mind yet whether it’s healthy or not.  But in their roles the team speak with customers through the online chat, in the community, via email… basically anywhere anyone comes in with a question because they don’t have a support contract or an account manager to ask and they didn’t know about the SDL Community which is of course the best place to go for help.  To be able to answer the variety of technical questions we see, all the team have either completed or are working through the various SDL Certifications available at a rate of knots and are learning more about the sort of problems faced by translators and project managers just by having to help people every day.  They are doing a fantastic job!

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