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Useful tools

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.

Why is it that none of these applications go that extra mile?  My guess is because that extra mile is more like 10 miles and in order to do it properly you really need an accounting system, or a project management system of some sort.  SDL Trados Studio does have integrations to tools like Plunet or XTRF and these can carry out all the things you would need (and some!), but for most translators and small businesses they might be cost prohibitive.

Fortunately the cost issue can be resolved with applications like BaccS, or TO3000 for example.  These are more affordable applications and have been developed starting with the translator in mind.  There may be others, but the ones I see more often are these two… what sets them apart is the ability of the application to work with the APIs provided by translation tools.  Anyone can use the XML analysis file that is created by Studio, but not everyone can take advantage of the APIs and really provide a smooth integration to make the overall translation workflow from quotation to invoice a smooth one.  Eugene Kuchynski, developer of BaccS, has done just that and in a very short timespan has provided the ability for translators, or small service providers, to experience working in such an environment.  In fact he’s created a way to do this starting with a free version that offers a versatile and simple way to create quotes and invoices for the work you do, and it’s fully integrated into Studio.  If you have the paid for version then you have access to a lot more features in the standalone application:

  • plan your workload
  • manage your clients and vendors
  • smart dashboard for managing your projects
  • create projects in SDL Trados Studio or SDL Trados GroupShare directly from BaccS
  • create your jobs in BaccS directly from Trados Studio
  • job assignments
  • track payments to translators/reviewers etc.
  • built in reporting and analysis functionality
  • access to both a desktop version and a web version of the software
  • ability to create/edit your own templates for invoices and quotes
  • … and more!

There’s a lot in this software that I think is worth a look, but for now I’m going to concentrate on what you get for free with the latest integration available on the SDL Appstore.  To start with you have a small ribbon group in the Home ribbon for the Projects view:

The relevant features here are:

  • Create a quote
  • Create an invoice

The others are working if you have the fully paid for version of BaccS.  If you click on them with only the free plugin installed you just get an informational message explaining the main BaccS application needs to be installed and running… so no harm done!  If you click the other two then you will be taken to the appropriate view within Studio to complete the details for your quote or invoice relevant to the project that is highlighted.  You can also go straight to the BaccS TMS view that is also created in Studio and create your quotes and invoices in there:

This view is very straightforward.  The main window is split into two with the left containing all your quotes or invoices, and the right containing a list of your projects in Studio that are colour coded to show whether you have quoted or invoiced already and for which language pairs.  Across the top you have a list of options and after playing with the application for a little while I found the best approach is to use the application from the start like this:

  1. Taxes – add the sales taxes that are applicable for the work you do so they are available in a drop down when preparing your invoice
  2. Units – set up the units relevant to the way you wish to be paid (by word count, hours etc.)
  3. Language pairs and Languages – I just imported these from my projects so they are available in the pricing module. The Languages options provides a mechanism for customimsing the way they are written rather than use the culture identifiers and language variants as they come from Studio
  4. Currencies – just add the currencies you wish to work with in here and they are available later for pricing
  5. Fuzzy Types – these are the analysis bands used by Studio and you get the defaults that BaccS uses based on the Studio analysis.  But you can add your own or edit the existing… so I added one for Machine Translation for example
  6. Fuzzy schemes – these represent the collections of Fuzzy Types that you have created and can be selected when pricing to suit the needs of a particular customer.  You can create or edit as many as you like
  7. Service types – these are the services that you provide… so Translation, Proofreading, Post-Editing… whatever services you like.
  8. Default Prices – you can create a pricing scheme for each type of service you offer
  9. Customers – this is not linked to the Studio Customer list (because that list in Studio is next to useless and not accessible via the API anyway) but it does provide a much more useful way to manage your customers containing more appropriate information for each one such as name, address, tax details, minimum charges, default invoicing template, price lists for that customer etc.
  10. Options – enter your personal details and preferences.  This can save you a lot of time by having your preferences already set up for invoicing and quotes as well as supporting some basic customisation to the templates.  I’d leave this to last because you can use some of the options from the other features in these settings.

I’m not going to go into more detail than that because I think that provides a flavour of the sort of things that are managed nicely in this plugin for Studio.  But if you want to read more details  you can click on the documentation link in the plugin and this provides a lot of information about how to use it and what the capabilities are.  Instead I have created a short video just to demonstrate how simple and well integrated this really is:

Duration: 7 mins 40 seconds

I hope this article has piquéd your interest, and if you don’t have a way to manage this part of your translation business then I’d really recommend you take a look… makes it all ridiculously simple!  I’m super impressed with the developer who has been extremely responsive and found his way around the Studio and GroupShare APIs in a very short period of time indeed.  I expect to see a lot more in the near future as he doesn’t strike me like an individual to rest on his laurels for very long!

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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In the years that the SDL AppStore has been around I get asked one question on a fairly regular basis… “How can I find out about new apps or updates to existing apps?”.  A very reasonable question of course and one that has not been addressed particularly well, albeit there have been ways to keep yourself informed.  The ultimate solution we all want to see is the AppStore embedded into SDL Trados Studio, but as that isn’t going to happen for a while here’s a couple of ways you can still keep yourself aware of the updates.  The first is via twitter and this has been around for a while; the second is using an RSS feed which is brand new as of today!

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Using stylesheets to enhance the translators experience when working with XML files can be very helpful and sometimes essential.  It allows you to pull details from the XML and display them in a preview pane so that the translator has more context around the translatable text.  It can also provide a mechanism for displaying text that you don’t want extracted from the XML for translation at all.  This is nothing new of course and localisation engineers and experienced translators have been doing this for years.  In fact I’ve even written about this in the past providing a simple example of how it’s done and some reading resources for anyone who would like to learn how.  So why am I bringing this up again?

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Some time ago the SDL AppStore team created an opensource site where they make the source code available for virtually all the apps they create for the SDL AppStore.  You can find the site here, https://sdl.github.io/Sdl-Community/, along with links to the apps themselves and also the sourcecode which can be pulled by any developer so they can make their own enhancements and improvements based on a good headstart.  I love this concept, but have to say I’m a little disappointed by the lack of active participation from other developers in pushing their own work back into the apps to share the improvements.  At least I’m disappointed in general, but there are exceptions even if they have been carried out by the AppStore team themselves!  The best exception and example of what can be achieved is around the Advanced Display Filter that can be found in Studio 2017.

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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

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