The Story of “Studio” Colours…

Once upon a time, of course, the translation environment was just black and white with gray in between.  Black and white and gray?  The AppStore gods were understandably bored and angry, so they went looking for other colours to brighten the world for their users.  The resulting colours emerged from the Microsoft Word palette resulting in fifteen colours to choose from.  The AppStore gods were so happy with these colours they decided to paint the translation environment from the AppStore.  They opened Visual Studio and flung the colours around, resulting in a brand new app. they called “Wordlight” and a new colourful feature for the “Community Advanced Display Filter”.

Of course I’ve stolen this introduction from a wonderful Mayan legend, “The Story of Colors”, as told by the indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico.  But I’ve had so much enjoyment playing with these colourful features for Studio as they were developed that I was reminded of the joy colour brings to us in this legend… these old stories are not just for kids!

But back to business, and if you haven’t seen these features yet I hope you’ll be rushing off to try them by the time you finish this article.


If you want to highlight a word, a phrase, or a segment, in Studio you have to use the Quick Insert feature here:

This has a few issues that make it a fairly unattractive feature:

  1. You need to “select text -> click -> scroll -> click -> click” every time you want to use it
  2. It only has a single colour
  3. It’s not available for every filetype
  4. You can’t use it to highlight multiple rows in one action in a filtered display (it will highlight the hidden rows as well!)
  5. You can’t select non-contiguous segments and highlight them
  6. Removing the formatting afterwards before you create a finished target file is painful… one segment at a time

There has always been workarounds for some of these things… such as using Ctrl+Shift+N+period+Enter to add a comment, and then you could filter on them too… as a good workaround it is a bit of a stretch.  There is aso an app on the SDL AppStore called WordBird that can also support highlighting in Studio.  It’s a lot better than the Quick Insert approach out of the box, but still carries some limitations.

Now we have Wordlight which you can download from the SDL AppStore.  This is a plugin which gives you all the features you’d find in Microsoft Word… and more!  You can find good details on how the plugin works in the SDL Wiki for the plugin, but to give you a quick overview… the plugin adds a new ribbon group to your Home menu in the Studio Editor View that looks like this:

It offers  you the ability to highlight selected text in any of these colours with a single click, a right-click option, or a keyboard shortcut.  The shortcuts are all empty by default so you need to set the ones you wish to use:

I have set one shortcut to highlight the selection based on whichever colour is active… and you’ll know which one is active because the icon in the ribbon is dynamically changing as it would in Microsoft Word (for example…):

Some nice features with this plugin are the following.

Text Selection

You can select text with the mouse, even crossing segments and highlight them all in one action:

You can select multiple blocks of segments manually, or using the display filter, and apply highlighting to all the selected segments in one action:

Removal of Highlighting

You can clear all the highlighting in one click from selected text, selected segments, or from all the segments displayed in the editor.  This latter option is great when using the Community Advanced Display Filter because you can easily filter on a particular colour by searching in the tags and this allows you to remove highlighting of a single colour when you have marked up the file with multiple colours:

So here I searched for the word “green” as it’s part of the tag <cf highlight=green> after checking the box to Use Tag Content and also Tag content only.  Now it’s easy to review the stuff I want based on the colour I highlighted with, and it’s also easy to remove the highlighting from here in one click using the Filtered Segments option:

Effect on the Target File

The out of the box highlighting through the Quick Insert feature will only be available for certain filetypes, and these are the filetypes that Studio can be sure support highlighting in the target file.  With the Wordlight plugin we took a different approach because we believe you can benefit from highlighting any file for review and because we know you’re all smart enough to know that if you use this you should remove the highlighting before creating your finished files.  After all… it’s a computer program and it should be there to help you, not to dictate what you can and can’t do!

There are exceptions to this rule of course… DOCX and PDF translation.  The formatting , if left in the target file, will for these formats be recognised and show up as Word formatting which you can use, add to, remove, leave it there as you see fit.  For all other formats make sure you understand the implications.  For example, if you apply formatting to an HTML file and leave it in the target you’ll get something like this:

In row #7 you can see the highlighting tags like this:

<cf highlight=yellow>

Clearly not valid html tags and will probably just be ignored.  But the same will happen for all filetypes, and some might not be so forgiving when you put these “foreign” tags in there.  So apply some care and don’t save target files with highlighting in them unless you undersand the implications and do it on purpose.

In this example it would be possible to write valid html tags in here, but we decided against this until we see/hear some good usecases for why this would be helpful.  Then we’ll make the effort!  The same applies for any other filetype, although we can’t guarantee it’ll be possible for them all.

All in all, this is an excellent plugin and fills a gap I have seen users asking for since Studio 2009… I have also seen many 3rd party developers attempting to do this and it’s not simple.  It took the AppStore Gods to tackle this one and make an excellent job of it!

Community Advanced Display Filter

This isn’t a new plugin of course, and I have written about it before.  In fact this plugin is well overdue another article as the features in it have grown significantly since then and almost every month we add something to it!  I added it to this article because it was a requirement from SDL Language Services that actually sparked off this colour frenzy and we initially fulfilled the requirement in this display filter.  So thank you SDL Language Services (Tammy et al.) for such a good usecase that prompted the effort for both plugins!

The usecase was to be able to filter on post-edited and confirmed segments in a file and apply highlighting to them that is carried over to the target file.  This way a reviewer who knows that machine translation has been used will be able to focus on reviewing the important segments that were post-edited in context.  Prior to this feature being added to the display filter the process could only be completed one segment at a time (because the Quick Insert approach doesn’t work on filtered segments) and it involved “select text -> click -> scroll -> click -> click” each time.

So the AppStore Gods created this:

The benefit of course being two-fold:

  1. You can use this tool to filter on confirmed post-edited segments when the work is complete
  2. You can highlight using any colour you wish from the selection in just 2-clicks

In this usecase there was no need to clear the highlighting, but we added this into the plugin since it allows other others with a different usecase to use this feature for any file where you might not want to have the highlighting left in there.  Exactly for the reasons explained in the Wordlight plugin.

Just a note on the clear highlighting feature… you can’t add highlighting with the display filter feature and clear it with the Wordlight plugin.  You also can’t add highlighting with the Wordlight plugin and clear it with the display filter feature.  This was deliberate because the plugins know what they created and what they need to remove and we wanted to avoid any mistakes that could arise inadvertently, especially if you were using full segment highlighting along with individual word highlighting for example:

In the screenshot above I could remove the individual word highlighting (on the left) from the file using the Wordlight plugin without affecting the full segment highlighting I added using the Display Filter.  Similarly I can remove the full segment highlighting (on the right) using the Display Filter feature without affecting the individual word highlighting I added using the Wordlight plugin.  Pretty smart I think as the combined use of both plugins gives you very good control over the use of the highlighting if you want to work this way.

What’s next?

You, like me, may just like playing around with the highlighting as it’s so fast and simple.  Software behaving this way is always a joy to use!

You may also be heading over to the appstore to look for these plugins right now… so here’s a quick reminder of where they are:


Community Advanced Display Filter

Enjoy the colourful world of the AppStore Gods!

How do you eat an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant?  Well, of course we don’t really want to eat an elephant, we love elephants!  But if we did want to eat something that large we’d do it in bite sized chunks!  This is something that is particularly relevant when working with large resources such as translation memories or terminology that is freely available from a number of places on the internet.  I’ve addressed this before in various articles… these two are particularly relevant to the topic I’m addressing today:

Continue reading “How do you eat an elephant?”

Apply a TM Template

Ever since the release of Studio 2009 we have had the concept of Language Resource Templates, and ever since the release of Studio 2009 I’d risk a bet that most users don’t know what they’re for or how to use them.  To be fair this is hardly a surprise since their use is actually quite limited out of the box and access to the goodies inside is pretty hard to get at.  It’s been something I used to see users complain about a long time ago but for some years now I rarely see them mentioned anymore.  This article, I hope, might change that.

Continue reading “Apply a TM Template”

A business resolution for 2019…

There are three things that have stood out for me this year.  The first is how much support SDL have provided to their users to make sure they are able to work successfully with their investment.  The second is how little many users are aware of this, and the third is just how many users have used Trados for a decade or more and were not aware of what a support & maintenance contract can bring you.  This last one has been the biggest surprise to me as I’ve spoken to people who thought a support contract was more than the cost of the software; to people who thought it was support only and to people who didn’t know SDL provided any support at all!  So, one of my resolutions for 2019 will be to try and make sure that all our users are more aware of how to get help, even if they don’t want to purchase a support & maintenance contract.  So, I’ll cover these things:

  • Support & Maintenance Contract
  • SDL Community
  • The Customer Experience Team
  • The SDL AppStore Team
  • The SDL Marketing Team
  • Training
  • Customer Experience Program

Continue reading “A business resolution for 2019…”

Hunspell dictionaries in Studio

When I write these articles I always start with thinking about the image at the top.  I do this for two reasons, the first is because it usually helps me think of some bizarre introduction (like this!) that helps me start writing, and the second is because every now and again I like to play around with Gimp which is the free image software I occassionally use.  It’s always nice to spend a little time doing something frivolous because it’s good thinking time without being distracted by the job!  I don’t really know how to use this software at all, but it’s fun seeing what turns out… and I confess I often use a combination of powerpoint and Gimp simply because some things are just easier in powerpoint!  Eventually I might actually learn how to use it properly… I’ll keep practicing anyway.

Continue reading “Hunspell dictionaries in Studio”

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 “Upgrading apps in the SDLAppstore…”

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.

Continue reading “It’s all about the money!”