Years ago, when I was still in the Army, there was a saying that we used to live by for routine inspections. “If it looks right, it is right”… or perhaps more fittingly “bullshit baffles brains”. These were really all about making sure that you knew what had to be addressed in order to satisfy an often trivial inspection, and to a large extent this approach worked as long as nobody dug a little deeper to get at the truth. This approach is not limited to the Army however, and today it’s easy to create a polished website, make statements with plenty of smiling users, offer something for free and then share it all over social media. But what is different today is that there is potential to reach tens of thousands of people and not all of them will dig a little deeper… so the potential for reward is high, and the potential for disappointment is similarly high.
Probably you’re all far more educated than me and when you read COTI you probably didn’t think “chuckling on the inside” did you? I googled it and looked at four acronym websites, none of which found the correct definition… but two of them returned the title of this article so it must be right!! Oh how I wish it was… just to bring a little levity to the ever so serious tasks of interoperability. But no, it stands for Common Translation Interface (COTI). This is a project pioneered by DERCOM which is the “Association Of German Manufacturers Of Authoring And Content Management Systems”… so nothing to be amused about there!
The subject of interoperability is in fact a serious one and many tools like to claim they are more interoperable than others as a unique selling point for anyone prepared to listen. It’s also a big topic and whilst I am always going to be guilty of a little bias I do believe there isn’t a tool as interoperable as the SDL language Platform because it’s been built with support for APIs in mind. This of course means it’s possible for developers outside of SDL to hook their products into the SDL Language Platform without even having to speak to SDL. Now that’s interoperability! It’s also why I probably hadn’t heard of COTI until the development was complete and I was asked to sign a plugin for SDL Trados Studio by Kaleidosope… outside of SDL I think they are the Kings of integration between other systems and the SDL language portfolio.
One of my favourite features in Studio 2017 is the filetype preview. The time it can save when you are creating custom filetypes comes from the fun in using it. I can fill out all the rules and switch between the preview and the rules editor without having to continually close the options, open the file, see if it worked and then close the file and go back to the options again… then repeat from the start… again… and again… I guess it’s the little things that keep us happy!
I decided to look at this using a YAML file as this seems to be coming up quite a bit recently. YAML, pronounced “Camel”, stands for “YAML Ain’t Markup Language” and I believe it’s a superset of the JSON format, but with the goal of making it more human readable. The specification for YAML is here, YAML Specification, and to do a really thorough job I guess I could try and follow the rules set out. But in practice I’ve found that creating a simple Regular Expression Delimited Text filetype based on the sample files I’ve seen has been the key to handling this format. Looking ahead I think it would be useful to see a filetype created either as a plugin through the SDL AppStore, or within the core product just to make it easier for users not comfortable with creating their own filetypes. But I digress…
Ever since Trados came about one of the most requested features for translators has been merging across hard returns, or paragraph breaks. Certainly for handling the translation it makes a lot of sense to be able to merge fragments of a sentence that should clearly be in one, but despite this it’s never been possible. Why is this? You can be sure this question has come up every year and whilst everyone agrees it would be great to have this capability, Trados has not supported it through the product. The reason for the reluctance is that when you merge a paragraph unit (the name given to translation units separated by a paragraph break) you probably need to be able to decide how this change to the structure of the file should be handled in the target document. Sometimes this might be simple, other times it might not be, and the framework that Trados products use is not designed in a way that supports the ability to alter the look and feel of the target file across every filetype the product can open. Even the release of the Studio suite of products still uses the same basic idea of being able to handle the bilingual files directly rather than importing them into a black box and whilst this does offer many advantages, this problem of merging over paragraph units remains… until now.
“More power to the elbow”… this is all about getting more from the resources you have already got, and in this case I’m talking about your Translation Memories. In particular I’m talking about enabling them for upLIFT. upLIFT, in case you have not heard about this yet despite all the marketing activity and forum discussions since August this year, is a technology that is being used in SDL Trados Studio 2017 to enable some pretty neat things. I’m not going to devote this article to what upLIFT is all about as Emma Goldsmith has written a really useful article today that does a far better job than I could have done. You can find Emma’s article here, called “SDL Trados studio 2017 : fragment recall and repair“. But a quick summary to get us started is that upLIFT enables things like this:
- fragment matching
- whole Translation Units
- partial Translation Units
- fuzzy match repair
- from fragment matching
- from your termbase
- from Machine Translation
CAT tools typically calculate wordcounts based on the source material. The reason of course is because this way you can give your clients an idea of the cost before you start the work… which of course seems a sensible approach as you need to base your estimate on something. You can estimate the target wordcount by applying an expansion factor to the source words, and this is a principle we see with pseudotranslate in Studio where you can set the expansion per language to give you some idea of the costs for DTP requirements in the finished document before you even start translating. But what you can’t do, at least what you have never been able to do in all the Trados versions right up to the current SDL Trados Studio, is generate a target wordcount for those customers who pay you for work after the translation is complete and are happy to base this on the words you have actually translated. Read More
It’s all about the termbase definition when you want to merge termbases, or import data into MultiTerm termbases. The XDT… otherwise known as the MultiTerm Termbase Definition file is the key to being able to ensure you are not trying to knock square pegs into round holes! I’ve written in the past about the flexibility of MultiTerm and it’s this flexibility that can make it tricky for new users when they try to merge their collections of termbases together, or add to their data by importing a file from a colleague.
So what do we mean by definition? Let’s think about keys as I think this is quite a good analogy… the four keys in the image on the right will all open a lock, but they won’t all open the same lock. If you want one of these keys to open another lock then you need to change its shape, or it’s “definition”, to be able to open the lock. A termbase definition works in a similar way because MultiTerm is flexible enough to support you creating your own lock. That lock might be the same as someone else’s, but theirs could also have a different number of pins and tumblers which means your key won’t fit.