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The handling of numbers and units in Studio is always something that raises questions and over the years I’ve tackled it in various articles.  But one thing I don’t believe I have specifically addressed, and I do see this rear its head from time to time, is how to handle the spaces between a number and its unit.  So it thought it might be useful to tackle it in a simple article so I have a reference point when asked this question, and perhaps it’ll be useful for you at the same time.

I have a background in Civil Engineering so when I think about this topic I naturally fall back to “The International System of Units (SI)” which has a clear definition on this topic:

There is a little more to it than this, and you can find the full specification here, but the essence is you always have a space.  I don’t think it defines how wide the space should be or whether it’s a non-breaking space or not, although in practice I think most technical writers would commonly use a non-breaking space.  There is a page here defining the rules if you’re interested.

Interestingly I started this article with an image showing numbers and a percentage symbol, and yet this is not an SI unit at all.  Rather it’s a number, normally meaning 0.01 and when used in junction with an SI unit there should be a space between the number and the percentage symbol.  So, where is this taking me?  This topic of whether you should use a space or not is quite often the source of a debate, and often confusion, between users and even though I have an engineering background I don’t really get too hung up on it.  For me the most important thing is that I have a way of dealing it with it.  So irrespective of what the source contains, or what the styleguide is asking for, I need to be able to handle it.

Handling it in SDL Trados Studio

It’s quite possible that the styleguide you are working to, or simply the verbal request you are working to, could have different rules for one language compared to another.  I occasionally come across a translator referring me to some document on the internet I’ve never heard of that sets out the rules for this kind of thing in their language pair.  Fair enough … Studio supports this by allowing you to define the way spaces are handled by language.  In fact it’s this very ability that makes it difficult for users to know about this feature at all!  Studio has this concept of All Language Pairs which looks like this:

 

I’d hazard a guess that most users, unless they are familiar with multilingual projects, only ever use the settings here under All Language Pairs.  You won’t find anything at all in here related to measurements and their spaces.  In fact you may have even looked at the specific language pairs underneath, thought they were the same and wondered why we even had them?  Well, the reason for having them is because it is possible to use different settings for each language in a multilingual project.  If you receive packages you might have wondered why the Translation Memories in the package you received are actually under the specific language pair, well this is the reason why.  If you place your Translation Memories at the All Language Pairs level then you avoid having to add them in multiple locations but it’s one setting for all.  It’s all about choice.

But hang on a minute… what about measurements?  Well this is an odd one that I don’t have a good answer for because it’s not possible to apply a setting for measurements that can apply to all languages.  I have no idea why!  But if you open up one of the specific language pairs you’ll see something like this:

Now we see a few differences:

  • we have an Auto-substitution node that expands to give us settings for Dates and Times, and also for Measurements.
  • we can add AutoSuggest Dictionaries at this level (I also have no good explanation for why here and not at All Language Pairs… surely they could be recognised in the same way a TM is?)
  • we don’t have Language Resources (I think these do make sense in All Language Pairs seeing as they relate to the specific language pairs anyway and the setting is unique to the resource template you choose)

It’s the Measurements I’m most interested in here, although I’d recommend you review the others too as you might find some interesting surprises.  If I click on this node I see this:

Aha… now everything should become clear.  There should be enough options in here to satisfy all the requirements you are likely to have.  You can match the source, you can set your own and Studio will automatically handle this for you using interactive translation when you press Ctrl+comma to pick up your placeable, or in pre-translation when the numbers and units are automatically recognised by Studio.  Also note that you can use the settings you need in a Project template which means you don’t have to keep changing the settings every time you need something different to the defaults for a new Project.

Reality bites!

So that’s all good news so far… but I do like to try and be real about the features in Studio so here’s the problem.  In the last paragraph I underlined “when the numbers and units are automatically recognised” for a reason.  If they are not recognised then none of this will apply and you have to start looking for workarounds.  The workaround you need will depend on how much, if any, of the numbers are recognised.  I have been running a test since prior to Studio 2014 SP2 (maybe around Studio 2011 I think) and even in my most recent check in Studio 2017 CU5 we still only recognise 19% of all SI units that have been correctly written.  Interestingly if I write them incorrectly by not having a space between them then Studio recognises 56% of them which gives you a better chance of handling them out of the box!  So you better break out your workaround hat if you’re a technical translator.  By a strange quirk of fate you technical translators could actually be the best group of translators to have to deal with this problem as solving these types of issues is probably in your nature!  If you’re interested in the file with these results then I have put them here as they might be helpful for two reasons:

  1. you’ll know which ones are being recognised and which are not.  This could be helpful if you think you’re the one doing something wrong.
  2. you can feedback if you get different results in your language pair.  I only tested from English to German and this might also make a difference to the results… it shouldn’t do, but it might.

If you’re interested in the workarounds, then they would probably be variants of these:

  • allow Studio to do its thing and search and replace using regular expressions afterwards (will only work if Studio still recognises the measurements but transposes it incorrectly)
  • use the Regex Match AutoSuggest Provider to interactively get the transposition you need (links to a great article from Nora Diaz on this tool)
  • use the Terminjector Translation Provider to deliver the transposition you need
  • edit the source file before you translate it so the measurements used are correctly recognised (you’ll need the application that created the source, and hope it supports some kind of regex/wildcard search & replace)
  • edit the source file after the project is created so the measurements are correctly recognised (SDLXLIFF Toolkit)

If all of this is having you nod your head then go and vote for this idea or even this one… or if you also want to see a conversion of the units which used to be “unreliably” possible in Translators Workbench then go and vote for this one.  Otherwise I hope the article was useful and that you are one of the lucky majority who are working with files that can be handled perfectly well out of the box in Studio using the settings above.

001Not Marvel Comics, but rather the number four which does have some pretty interesting properties.  It’s the only cardinal number in the English language to have the same number of letters as its value; in Buddhism there are four noble truths; in Harry Potter there are four Houses of Hogwarts; humans have four canines and four wisdom teeth; in chemistry there are four basic states of matter… but more importantly, for translators using Studio 2017 there are four ways, out of the box, to get started!

Now with that very tenuous link let’s get to the point.  Four ways to start translating, all of them pretty easy but they all have their pros and cons.  So getting to grips with this from the start is going to help you decide which is best for you.  First of all what are they?

  1. Translate single document
  2. Create a project
  3. Drag and drop your files
  4. Right-click and “Translate in SDL Trados Studio”

And now we know what they are should you use one process for all, or can you mix and match?  I mix and match all the time, mainly between 1. and 2. but let’s look at the differences first and you can make your own mind up.

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001Years 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.

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001Probably 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.
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001One 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…

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001Ever 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.

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001“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

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