What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Shakespeare’s soliloquy, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet isn’t allowed to be with Romeo because his family name is Montague… sworn enemies of the Capulet family.  Of course she doesn’t care about his name, he’d still be everything she wanted irrespective of what he was called.  The rose would still smell as sweet irrespective of what it was called.  “Trados”, “SDL” and “RWS” have endured, or enjoyed, a feuding history as competitors in the same industry.  Our names are our brand and now that they’re changing do we still smell as sweet?  Sadly things don’t end well for poor Romeo and Juliet… but in our story we fare a little better!

A little history…

Trados… Trados was first launched in 1984 in Stuttgart, Germany (the same year I joined the Army, and was posted to Hameln, Germany), it was acquired in 2005 by SDL (the year before I joined them), and now in 2020 SDL has been acquired by RWS.  In all that time the name “Trados” has never gone away.  When SDL took the reins the name became “SDL Trados” and behind the scenes we tried really hard to drop the name “Trados”.  This was mainly because of the introduction of “SDL Trados Studio” where people spoke about “Trados” for everything and at the time you didn’t know whether they were referring to “Studio” or the old “Translator’s Workbench” and “TagEditor”.  We wanted a clear distinction because “Trados”, like Montague, carried a lot of baggage from the past and we wanted to start afresh, improving support, product and everything we did.

But despite our best efforts the name “Trados” would not go away.  When we launched “Studio” all the old “Trados” users said it was just “SDLX” which was the competing product developed by SDL.  The “SDLX” users said it was just “Trados” with a different skin.  The truth is it’s more “Trados” than “SDLX”… and in many ways this was an unfortunate decision, but it was driven by the market leaders at the time, “Trados”, who were certainly leading the charge in our development teams.  Under the hood I think “SDLX” might have been a better choice to base the new “Studio” on… but no use crying over spilled milk!

Interestingly my wife, who doesn’t work in this industry, could associate with the work I was doing when I used the name “Trados” and found the suggested name “SDL Studio” a bit… well… nothing!

So, what’s in a name?  Apparently everything from how it’s influenced the development of the tools we use today, to how it is instantly familiar and preferable to someone who knows nothing about what we do.

Today we’re part of RWS and now we’re faced with the question of what do we do with the brand name SDL?  So let’s look at how this is going to affect us as users of the technology… will it be RWS Trados Studio, rwsxliff, rwstm etc?  The answer to this is threefold:

  1. Trados will be the brand name
  2. sdl*** will remain as a filetype, namespace, plugin reference etc.
  3.  SDL will also remain as a legal entity, so we become “SDL Part of the RWS Group”.  So  existing contracts, EULA’s, will remain in place until notified otherwise.

I’m not going to talk more about the legal aspects as I’m not qualified to do so… but hopefully the information in point 3. is enough for most people.  If it’s not I’d recommend you contact your account manager, or your contact in RWS, and discuss your situation with them.


I’ll keep this simple and just list some of the products that we intend to rebrand over the coming months, and also a few that we don’t control but will be changing as well… old name on the left and new on the right!

First, the ones the readers of this blog are likely to be the most familiar with…

SDL Trados Studio Trados Studio
SDL MultiTerm MultiTerm
SDL Passolo Passolo
SDL Trados Business Manager Trados Business Manager
SDL Language Cloud RWS Language Cloud
SDL Trados Live Team Trados Live Team
SDL Trados Live Essential Trados Live Essential
SDL Trados GroupShare Trados GroupShare
SDL Trados GroupShare Trados GroupShare
SDL AppStore RWS AppStore

Generally you can see the idea… all products with the exception of Trados Business Manager (which was BaccS) are reverting to their original and well-known brand names (Trados, Passolo, MultiTerm).  Language Cloud and the AppStore are more of a platform and these will adopt RWS in the names.

On the AppStore… there are over 300 plugins and standalone applications related to Language Technology (the others would be Web Content… another part of the business that has also wrestled with rebranding) and 55 of these are related by name to the Trados family of products, SDL Machine Translation, Kaleidoscope.  Or rather 55 have these names AND they are maintained by the AppStore team.  I’m not going to mention all these apps in here… but you will start to see some changes over the coming months.  For example, here’s a few we have already changed:

SDL Batch Anonymizer Trados Batch Anonymizer
SDL Trados Business Manager Connector Trados Business Manager Connector
SDL Analyse Trados Analyse

So the same principle for rebranding applies here as well.  Any apps developed by other developers who are not part of RWS we will not be changing.  It makes sense for those developers to adopt the same strategy as eventually the old names will be forgotten… but they can do this in their own time.  A name change may seem trivial to you, but it’s not.  It affects the way the apps are integrated into the products and the way they are recognised for updates, it affects websites, marketing material and many other things.  So we can only put a timescale to our own efforts and will support others as much as we can to help their transitions in the future.

A bigger surprise relates to “SDL Machine Translation” which you may already be aware of as the press announcements went out earlier this week.  Even though it’s a surprise it still follows the same principle of adopting the original and well known brand names.  The “Language Weaver” brand is very well known in the research community already, and its name originated from Warren Weaver who was a pioneer of machine translation back in the 1940’s.  Notwithstanding that, I noticed that Jost Zetzsche tweeted earlier this week about how beautiful the term “Language Weaver” is and he’s absolutely right.  I’m certain this was also not lost on the original founders of “Language Weaver” back in 2002.

SDL acquired them in 2010 and name gradually disappeared.  I’m really glad to see it back!  Where this will be obvious to Trados Studio users is in the use of these products:

SDL Machine Translation Cloud Language Weaver Cloud
SDL Machine Translation Edge Language Weaver Edge

You may not see all these changes in the translation products just yet… but over the coming months it will happen.  Hopefully, if you’ve read this far there will be no surprises or confusion!

If you’re interested to learn more about the changes related to machine translation products at RWS, as I have not mentioned “Iconic Translation Machines” who will also be adopting the “Language Weaver” brand, then I’d recommend you visit the new Language Weaver website and watch the video series there.

filetype, namespace, plugin reference etc.

I’ve been asked many times already, and I’ve even seen some rather “interesting” discussions in the public forums, about SDLXLIFF, SDLTM, SDLFTSETTINGS, SDLPPX etc.  Are we going to change these to RWS?

The answer is no… we are not.  A couple of technical reasons why…

  • it’s a huge effort in development fraught with the potential for bugs
  • many of these filetypes are handled by our tech partners, our competitors, integrators etc.  If we change them we break all of these things and cause a lot of unnecessary problems in the supply chain

A couple of lies I just made up…

  • it’s a way to retain the name “SDL” for posterity
  • it’s a happier ending for our Romeo and Juliet story…


Voice or Machine Translation?

Post Survey Note: Thank you to all those who completed the survey. It’s no longer live, but you can see the final results in the article.

For the last couple of years I’ve been enjoying the TCLoc Masters degree at the University of Strasbourg.  It’s been a really interesting time for me helping to fill in a lot of gaps and widen my technical knowledge around localization, and introducing me to the world of Technical Communication in general.  This latter part was particularly interesting because half of our business at SDL relates to this; so having spent my time since 2006 working with our localization products it’s been an eye opener in many ways.  I have done this in my own time and not as part of my job, but TCLoc does look like a course that’s tailor made for SDL employees!

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AdaptiveMT… what’s the score?

AdaptiveMT was released with Studio 2017 introducing the ability for users to adapt the SDL Language Cloud machine translation with their own preferred style on the fly.  Potentially this is a really powerful feature since it means that over time you should be able to improve the results you see from your SDL Language Cloud machine translation and reduce the amount of post editing you have to do.  But in order to be able to release this potential you need to know a few things about getting started.  Once you get started you may also wonder what the analysis results are referring to when you see values appearing against the AdaptiveMT rows in your Studio analysis report.  So in this article I want to try and walk through the things you need to know from start to finish… quite a long article but I tried to cover the things I see people asking about so I hope it’s useful.

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Spot the difference!

001I don’t know if you can recall these games from when you were a kid?  I used to spend hours trying to find all the differences between the image on the left and the one on the right.  I never once thought how that might become a useful skill in later life… although in some cases it’s a skill I’d rather not have to develop!

You may be wondering where I’m going with this so I’ll explain.  Last weekend the SFÖ held a conference in Umeå, Sweden… I wasn’t there, but I did get an email from one of my colleagues asking how you could see what changes had been made in your bilingual files as a result of post-editing Machine Translation.  The easy answer of course is to do the post-editing with your track changes switched on, then it’s easy to spot the difference.  That is useful, but it’s not going to help with measurement, or give you something useful to be able to discuss with your client.  It’s also not going to help if you didn’t work with tracked changes in the first place because you’d need some serious spot the difference skills to evaluate your work!

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Qualitivity… measuring quality and productivity

01In the last year or so I’ve had the pleasure of watching Patrick Hartnett use the SDL Openexchange APIs and SDK to develop SDLXLIFF Compare, then Post-Edit Compare, the Studio Timetracker and a productivity tool that combined all of the first three into one and introduced a host of productivity metrics and a mechanism for scoring the quality of a translation using the Multidimensional Quality metrics (MQM) framework.  This last application was never released, not because it wasn’t good, but because it keeps on growing!

Then last month I got to attend the TAUS QE Summit in Dublin where we had an idea to present some of the work Patrick had done with his productivity plugin, get involved in the workshop style discussions, and also learn a little about the sort of things users wanted metrics for so we could improve the reporting available out of the box.  At the same time TAUS were working on an implementation around their Dynamic Quality Framework (DQF) and were going to share a little during the event about their new DQF dashboard that would also have an API for developers to connect.

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The ins and outs of AutoSuggest

001The AutoSuggest feature in Studio has been around since the launch of Studio 2009 and based on the questions I see from time to time I think it’s a feature that could use a little explanation on what it’s all about.  In simple terms it’s a mechanism for prompting you as you type with suggested target text that is based on the source text of the document you are translating.  So sometimes it might be a translation of some or all of the text in the source segment, and sometimes it might be providing an easy way to replicate the source text into the target.  This is done by you entering a character via the keyboard and then Studio suggests suitable text that can be applied with a single keystroke.  In terms of productivity this is a great feature and given how many other translation tools have copied this in one form or another I think it’s clear it really works too!
AutoSuggest comes from a number of different sources, some out of the box with every version of the product, and some requiring a specific license.  The ability to create resources for AutoSuggest is also controlled by license for some things, but not for all.  When you purchase Studio, any version at all, you have the ability to use the AutoSuggest resources out of the box from three places: Continue reading

Language Cloud… word-counts… best practice?

001Best practice!  This is a phrase I’ve had a love/hate relationship with over the course of my entire career… or maybe it’s just a love to hate!  The phrase is something that should perhaps be called “Best Suggestions” and not “Best Practice” because all too often I think it’s used to describe the way someone wants you to work as opposed to anything that represents the views of a majority of users over a long period of time, or anything that takes account the way different people want to work.  In fact with new technology how can it be “Best Practice” when it hasn’t been around long enough in the first place?  I think for a clearly defined and well established process then “Best Practice” has it’s place… but otherwise it’s often the easy answer to a more complex problem, or just a problem that is considered too hard to address.
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Solving the Post Edit puzzle

#03It would be very arrogant of me to suggest that I have the solution for measuring the effort that goes into post-editing translations, wherever they originated from, but in particular machine translation.  So let’s table that right away because there are many ways to measure, and pay for, post-editing work and I’m not going to suggest a single answer to suit everyone.

But I think I can safely say that finding a way to measure, and pay for post-editing translations in a consistent way that provided good visibility into how many changes had been made, and allowed you to build a cost model you could be happy with, is something many companies and translators are still investigating.

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"Memory is the mother of all wisdom"

#01I believe this interesting quote can be found in “Prometheus Bound”, a play by a Greek dramatist called Aeschylus.  I haven’t read the play, but I like the quote, and it certainly lends itself to the importance of memory… even when we refer to a Translation Memory rather than your own built in capability.  It’s because your Translation Memory is such an important asset to you that you need to regularly maintain it, and also reuse it wherever possible to expand the benefits you get from it.
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