Back to school… again!

The image depicts a stylised portrait of a person wearing academic attire. The individual has a neatly trimmed beard and moustache, and they are wearing a blue graduation cap with a tassel on the right side. They appear to be smiling contentedly, with their eyes closed in a serene expression. The figure's graduation gown is dark blue, and they are wearing a white shirt with a green tie underneath. The image has a clean and modern vector art style, with flat colours and simple shapes for features.After I did my last studies, apart from all the endless mandatory HR type training we have to endure these days, I thought that would be it for any sort of formal training for me.  In fact the main reason for me doing my last formal studies, TCLoc Masters degree at the University of Strasbourg, was to fill the gaps I thought I had given a complete lack of education in the field I’ve been working for the last 17-years.  That degree was very useful and I definitely learned a lot and filled some gaps, but whilst there was an element of technical localization to it I think it only scratched the surface and didn’t really cover the sort of skills that I think are needed, not just for localization engineers, but also for professional translators and project managers, working in technical localization today.

These days I get involved in many interesting things within my work and one of these is working with the RWS Campus team supporting universities and students to help prepare them for a life in our industry.  One of our goals is to try and make sure that students can enter the workplace at an organisation like ours that provides dedicated localization services, and won’t have to be trained in the basics of technical localization skills.  There is always new things to learn as localization is an exciting and dynamic business, but a better more practical grounding would be really useful.  I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but our experience is that graduates fresh out of university often lack the basic skills to get started.

AI Generated: A vibrant digital banner illustrating an online academic conference on localization. It shows diverse attendees on computer screens, topics like 'Localization Tools', and a central figure, symbolizing Andrej Zito, delivering a talk. The setting merges formal education and practical training in the localization industry.

This seems a good place to get to the point of this article.  Each year for the last two years we have run an online academic conference for a couple of days covering careers in localization and more technical subjects around the tools we use.  I wrote about it in an article in April this year when we did the last one and you can get a feel for the sort of topics we cover… and maybe look out for the next one!

In that agenda a new academic partner we started to talk to this year delivered a talk called “Lean education: discover your dream job in localization“.  The talk was delivered by Andrej Zito, who founded Localization Academy, in order to help people find their way into the business by providing them with more practical based training they can put to use right away.  At the time the courses he was working on that would be of most interest to me weren’t quite ready, but I was sold on the idea, particularly since I could relate to his own background  and how he got into the industry.  There is 100% room for formal education, that is without question, there is also room for someone to step up and provide the more practical training that inevitably makes you invaluable when you have the skillsets he aims to deliver.  Since then some of the courses we discussed are available and you can find them through the Localization Academy.

Localization Engineer Course

Andrej offered me the opportunity to check the course out after I reviewed the preview a couple of weeks ago, so I duly went back to school and worked through the Localization Engineer Course every evening over the last week to check it out.  I’ll tell you first that this is a course that in my opinion every technical translator should do as it will absolutely help them to get more out of the CAT tools they’re using.  The questions I like to answer the most in our community are the ones that require a little more technical knowledge and this course would put me out of a job!

The course is delivered by Carlos García Gómez who, stealing a little of the bio from the course intro page, has 7+ years of experience working in the technology department of different language service providers such as Donnelley Language Solutions, SDL plc, and Vistatec.  Clearly the experience he has gained in this time makes him well suited to prepare and deliver a course like this… very impressive work.  Carlos also has his own blog here for those of you interested in “Artificial Intelligence & Natural Language Processing”.

A digital image showing a 14-day calendar, symbolizing the duration of an online localization course. Each day features icons for learning modules like language tools and technical skills. A clock in the corner highlights flexible study times, emphasizing evenings and weekends. The image conveys an organized, intensive learning experience.The course itself is a little more down to earth and really crams a lot of learning into a suggested 14-day period, so when you take the course yourself make sure you set aside enough time to really get the value from it.  It is online and self-paced so you can take your time and easily set aside a couple of hours each evening, or even just work through it at the weekends.

To give you a little idea of the content…

  • introduction to what localization engineering is all about
  • basics of file parsing, regular expressions and working with files
  • creating file parsers for Text files, XML, XLIFF, JSON etc.
    • Trados Studio was used when I did this but there are definitely plans to consider other tools as well
  • understanding file encodings, byte order marks, and using pseudo translation
  • localization of HTML and websites
  • software localization
    • Passolo was used here in addition to Trados Studio
  • a look at App localisation for IOS and Android
  • DTP work (Adobe products) and AudioVisual localization
  • localization of e-learning tools (RISE and Storyline)
  • a good overview of how to handle bugs in filetypes, what to look for and how to fix them
  • a great introduction to working with the Okapi framework and XBench
  • finishing off with a couple of days on automation where you’ll learn a little about the creation of efficient workflows using automation scripts and an introduction to programming
  • … and of course there is some introduction to working with AI as a tool to help you with your work in this space!

I really summarised this, but I can tell you the content is extremely wide-ranging and well thought out.  I think each of the days could probably be a weeks course on their own, yet I found there to be enough value to pique some interest in everything and encourage anyone doing the course, armed with these basics, to know how to improve their knowledge on their own with the huge amount of information available on the internet these days.

I would note that whilst a good portion of the course wasn’t completely new to me, I definitely learned a lot, and even in areas where I didn’t think I’d learn anything, I really did.  I’ve come away very motivated to look at things I had planned to write about when I got time, but now take a different approach in the way I position the material.  In fact my day job is getting in the way of my enthusiasm to get going!

If you hadn’t noticed by now I’m a big fan of what Andrej Zito has started here, and I think that despite the title of the one I did, “Localization Engineer Course“, I would recommend any translator working with CAT tools, and particularly technical translators, to take up the opportunity to improve their skills.  The RWS Community forums are full of posts from translators who would really benefit from the information provided on this course and would help them to feel a lot more comfortable having to deal with the sort of real life problems that are never covered in the traditional training material available.

I’d also encourage any student studying translation today and hoping for a career in this industry to look at this too.  You’ll be better prepared yourself, and your future employer will thank you for it!

There are free previews for all the courses available so why not take a look.  The list of courses is growing and if there is something missing you can suggest one too!

The elusive regex with GPT-4

A DALL E generated image of running digitsWhilst the solving of regular expressions with ChatGPT seems like a great way to give yourself superpowers I have stayed away from writing about this usecase till now.  Yes, ChatGPT is great for those simple things that anyone with some basic knowledge could probably write themselves in the time it took to explain what was wanted.  But I like regular expressions… I’m definitely not a real expert, but I do like to play around with them and would consider myself above an average user.  So when I decided to test ChatGPT with a regular expression I asked it to solve something I have never been able to achieve on my own.  In fact I have never seen anyone else do this either… although I’m certain there are many people out there who would be very capable of doing it.  But when I’ve asked I have never had a satisfactory solution without using code, or without using multiple search & replace operations.

Continue reading “The elusive regex with GPT-4”

The versatile regex based text filter in Trados Studio…

After attending the xl8cluj conference in Romania a few weeks ago, which was an excellent, and very technical conference for translators, I thought it was about time I wrote an article around the things you can do with the Regular Expression Delimited Text filter since it is so useful for solving all kinds of tasks related to text based files that don’t fit any of the out of the box formats available in the product.  Files such as software string files and csv files are common examples of where understanding how to work with this customisable file type can yield many benefits.  So this article is food for thought and a few things that might be helpful to you in the future.  It’s also pretty long (I’m not kidding!), so maybe grab a cup of coffee before you start to go through it!

Continue reading “The versatile regex based text filter in Trados Studio…”

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.

Continue reading “Data Protection…”

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!

Continue reading “A competitive edge…”

… and the winner is?

Every now and then I see an application and I think… this one is going to be a game changer for Studio users.  There have been a few, but the top two for me have been the “SDLXLIFF to Legacy Converter” which really helped users working with mixed workflows between the old Trados tools and the new Studio 2009, and the “Glossary Converter” which has totally changed the way translators view working with terminology and in my opinion has also been responsible for some of the improvements we see in the Studio/MultiTerm products today.  There are many more, and AnyTM is a contender, but if I were to only pick my top three where I instantly thought WOW!, then the first two would feature.  So what about the third?  You could say I have the benefit of hindsight with the first two although I’m not joking about my reaction when I first saw them, but the third is brand new and I’m already predicting success!

Continue reading “… and the winner is?”

Revisiting the toolkit…

001It’s been a while since I wrote anything about the SDLXLIFF Toolkit.. in fact I haven’t done since it was first released with the 2014 version of Studio.  Now that we have added a few new things such as SDLPLUGINS so that apps are better integrated and can be more easily distributed with Studio we have launched a new version of the toolkit for Studio 2017.  What’s new?  To be honest not a lot, but there are a couple of things that I think warrant this visit.

First of all, the app is now a plugin and this means it loads faster, is always available and there are a few tricks to being able to get the most from this.  Secondly, there are a few fixes to the search & replace features that make it possible to complete tasks that Studio will fail with and to do this the API team completely rebuilt the regex engine.  So whilst you won’t see too many changes, there are a few under the hood.

The best way to illustrate this is to show you so I have created a short video below where I have tried to explain how best to use the toolkit now it’s a plugin and not a standalone application, and I used the problems described below to demonstrate how it works.  If you want to know what else it can do I have reproduced part of the original guide below the video as that seems to have been lost over the years.  This might be helpful for a few of the more obscure features you may not have realised were possible.

Continue reading “Revisiting the toolkit…”

correcting autocorrect!

001Wow… how time flies!  Over three years ago I wrote an article called AutoCorrect… for everything! which explained how to use AutoHotkey so you had a similar functionality to Microsoft Word for autocorrect, except it worked in all your windows applications.  This was, and still is, pretty cool I think and I still use autohotkey today for many things, and not just autocorrect.  Since writing that article we released Studio 2015, and in fact Studio 2017 is just around the corner, so it was a while back and some things have moved on.  For example, Studio 2015 introduced an autocorrect feature into Studio which meant things should be easier for all Studio users, especially if they had not come across autohotkey before.

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A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing;

01Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

I’m quoting Alexander Pope in 1709, rightly or wrongly, for hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the truly intoxicating mix of language and technology.  A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing and it’s something I know I’ve been guilty of all my life… I learn a little something new and now I’m an expert.  That is of course until I learn a bit more, and then a little more after that, and before I know it I realise I know nothing at all!  Translation technology is great for dropping us all into this trap… Trados user since Trados 5, translator for over 20-years… can handle any type of file.  Falling into this trap is pretty easy in fact, especially when the tools available for translation today take a lot of the effort out of the tasks at hand.  But not everything is what it seems and sometimes it takes a mistake or three to sober us up again!  There’s a reason why well organised and successful translation companies, dealing in all kinds of content, have Project Managers, Translators and Localization Engineers within their midst.

Continue reading “A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing;”

The JSON files…

01Update Sept 2016: You can find an excellent filetype plugin for JSON files on the SDL AppStore if you don’t want to tackle this yourself.

The JSON files… not really related to Jason Voorhees of course, but for some users who have received these file types for translation the problem of how to handle them and extract the appropriate text may well seem like an episode of Friday the 13th!  I’ve seen a few threads in the last couple of weeks sharing various methods for handling these files ranging from opening them in MSWord and applying a hidden style to the parts you don’t want, to asking vendors to create variations on javascript filetypes.  But I think Studio offers a much simpler mechanism for handling them out of the box.

So what are these file types and how can you handle them with Studio 2014, or even 2009/2011?  In this article I’m going to look at the regex filetype as this is very well suited to files like this, but before we get into that detail let’s take a look at what they are. Continue reading “The JSON files…”