XLIFF 2.x… the translator’s panacea?

In the last year or so many articles have been written about XLIFF 2.0 explaining what’s so great about it, so I’m not going to write another one of those.  I’m in awe of the knowledge and effort the technical standard committees display in delivering the comprehensive documentation they do, working hard to deliver a solution to meet the needs of as many groups as possible.  The very existence of a standard however does not mean it’s the panacea for every problem it may be loosely related to.  It’s against this background I was prompted to write about this topic after reading this article questionning whether some companies were preventing translators from improving their lives.  The article makes a number of claims which I think might be a little misguided in my opinion… in fact this is what it says:

XLIFF 2.0 is a “new” bilingual format for translation that attempts to do a handful important things for translators.

  • Improve the standard so that different translation tools makers, like SDL, don’t “need” to create their own proprietary versions that are not compatible with other tools
  • Creating true interoperability among tools, so translators can work in the tool of their choice, and end-customers can have flexibility about who they work with too
  • Allow businesses to embed more information in the files, like TM matches glossaries, or annotations, further enhancing interoperability

I say “new” because XLIFF 2.0 has been around for years now. Unfortunately, adoption of the XLIFF 2.0 standard has been slow, due to tools makers and other players deciding that interoperability is not in their interest. It’s one of those things where commerce gets in the way of sanity.

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Upgrading apps in the SDLAppstore…

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. Continue reading

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It’s all about the money!

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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Too many language variants!

Is English (Europe) the new language on the other side of the Channel that we’ll all have to learn if Brexit actually happens… will Microsoft ever create a spellchecker for it now they added it to Windows 10?  Why are there 94 different variants of English in Studio coming from the Microsoft operating system and only two Microsoft Word English spellcheckers?  Why don’t we have English (Scouse), English (Geordie) or English (Brummie)… probably more distinct than the differences between English (United States) and English (United Kingdom) which are the two variants Microsoft can spellcheck.  These questions, and similar ones for other language variants are all questions I can’t answer and this article isn’t going to address!  But I am going to address a few of the problems that having so many variants can create for users of SDL Trados Studio.

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Data Protection…

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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A competitive edge…

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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App Notifications…

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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Segacious segmentation…

Using segmentation rules on your Translation Memory is something most users struggle with from time to time; but not just the creation of the rules which are often just a question of a few regular expressions and well covered in posts like this from Nora Diaz and others.  Rather how to ensure they apply when you want them, particularly when using the alignment module or retrofit in SDL Trados Studio where custom segmentation rules are being used.  Now I’m not going to take the credit for this article as I would not have even considered writing it if Evzen Polenka had not pointed out how Studio could be used to handle the segmentation of the target language text… something I wasn’t aware was even possible until yesterday.  So all credit to Evzen here for seeing the practical use of this feature and sharing his knowledge.  This is exactly what I love about the community, everyone can learn something and in practical terms many of SDLs customers certainly know how to use the software better than some of us in SDL do!

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Cloud murmurings… part 1.

It’s true… I’m a die hard desktop user.  I love the benefits I get from my mobile phone, using dropbox, the benefits of machine translation, Netflix and all the cool things that come with being able to use online features in the cloud.  But I’ve still been reticent to wholeheartedly embrace online technology and talk about it in this blog.  When I ask myself why that is, the first thing that crosses my mind is the unreliability of online connectivity.  Some people have a view of me as being a calm and patient person, and I do try hard to be that person, but when it comes to a lack of connectivity I turn into Mister Angry and Frustrated very quickly!  So the very idea of working with solutions that only offer an online capability for everything leaves me cold.  It’s one thing being unable to watch a film, share files, pick up my email or use my phone, but not being able to work at all is another thing altogether.  If I was working as an independant translator with all the benefits that can bring of being able to work anywhere, then having a good offline capability would be essential.  Studio of course offers me the offline capability, but today (and in a few more articles as there’s a lot to cover) I want to talk about the cloud and in particular SDL GroupShare.  Many of you may wonder if this has any relevance for you, but hopefully you’ll see it does because the solutions SDL offer in this space give you the flexibility you need when working with the cloud and even as a freelance translator you may get asked to work in that environment.  I’m going to tackle a few scenarios to explain, starting with creating projects. Continue reading

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Looking cool…

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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