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!
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:
Not 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?
- Translate single document
- Create a project
- Drag and drop your files
- 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.
Years 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.
Probably 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.
One 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…
Ever 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.