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:

Since writing these articles you can find at least two places where you can get hold of curated terminology pulled from IATE and used in SDL Trados Studio while you translate:

Both of these resources available through the SDL AppStore make it possible to use the massive terminology resources available in any language pair supported by the EU and they have become an invaluable resource for many users.  However, they both suffer from the same problem of not being based on the current state of the IATE resource, and they don’t contain as much of the useful information that is available through IATE itself. The IATE teams are regularly maintaining this resource as you can see from the details they publish on their website:

It’s unrealistic for any of the existing providers of this data to update their downloads on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, so resolving this can only be resolved by connecting directly to IATE and viewing the current information as it’s maintained on a daily basis by the IATE team.


At the end of 2018 the IATE team made the API publicly available so that any developer could interrogate the data they have available directly without having to download and manually curate huge terminology resources.   This was very exciting news of course and we moved onto this immediately so we could create a terminology provider for SDL Trados Studio.  We built the plugin fairly quickly and then ran a Beta with a few hundred users for several months making sure that the solution was going to be useful for Studio users and also acceptable for the IATE team.

We released a production build of this plugin earlier this month and it’s now freely available on the SDL AppStore for users of the 2017 and 2019 versions of SDL Trados Studio.

The IATE Real-time Terminology plugin

The plugin is installed by double clicking the sdlplugin file you download (a small download!) from the appstore and this will then give you access to several features that are really useful when translating:

  • term recognition in Studio based on the full IATE database
  • autosuggest from IATE
  • view term details from IATE
  • search IATE

Adding the IATE plugin to your project is simple, you do this in the same way you would do it using MultiTerm except you select “IATE Terminology Provider” instead of “File-based MultiTerm Termbase”.

You will then be presented with the ability to filter the results based on the Domain and/or term types.  This isn’t necessary, but if you do find you are receiving a lot of duplication this can help to narrow down the number of results.

Once you’ve done that and you click “Save Settings” you’re good to go!

You can use this provider with as many other termbases, or other custom providers as you see fit.  It’s not one or the other.

Term recognition

Once you’ve added the provider everything will look quite familiar if you’ve used MultiTerm before.  The segments you are working on will show all recognised terms in the source with a red overline and the matching terms will be shown in the “Term Recognition” window.


AutoSuggest is enabled automatically if you have it enabled for Termbases under File -> Options -> AutoSuggest -> Termbases.  You will then be able to use the suggestions from IATE interactively as you translate:

View term Details from IATE

This was perhaps the most challenging part of the plugin to handle.  The IATE database contains almost 8 million terms and over a million terminology entries so displaying them all in the termbase viewer wasn’t really an option.  Instead we resolved this by returning results that are relevant to the source segment you are in… essentially like eating an elephant!

You might be thinking “isn’t this the same as the term recognition window?”  It’s certainly similar but it’s not the same at all as you can see in this image below where there is only one term found., “entry requirement”, but many entries in the viewer.

The termbase viewer does several things:

  • displays possibly relevant information based around the terms found in the active source segment
  • groups duplicates that you can expand on in the viewer
  • shows other definitions and metadata

You can access the termbase viewer for a particular term by right-clicking on a term in the term recognition window and select “View term details“.

The layout is deliberately very similar to the old flags layout in MultiTerm so it will look familiar to MultiTerm users… and it’s my preferred layout anyway, nice compact and clear.

What you can’t do

You can’t add terms to this solution.  The termbase is read only as it’s owned and maintained by the IATE team.

If you are using your own termbase as well as this while you work, which is highly likely, then you will find a few restrictions that are due to Studio/MultiTerm lacking functionality many users have wanted for many years:

  • to be able to add terms to your own termbase you have to make it the default.  This is needed because you can only add terms to the default, not to a termbase of choice.  Fixing this would be on my wishlist!
  • to be able to “View term details” the termbase has to be the default.  You can only view details of the default termbase.  This is a huge oversight and again something users have wanted for years… with good reason.  Fixing this would be on my wishlist!

So if you are using your own termbase in addition to IATE you will get term recognition and autosuggest capability, and this is definitely very useful, but you won’t be able to use the handy termbase viewer unless you change the default termbase.

Fortunately we have some very clever and enterprising users, so Nora Diaz created this useful AutoHotkey script that allows you to change the default and add a term to a secondary termbase.  It would probably not be too hard to adapt this script so you could also select the termbase viewer for the termbase of your choice.  Great to have these options but I do wish we would fix it in the product!

Search IATE

The last thing this very useful IATE plugin does is it allows you to search the IATE website directly by right-clicking selected text and providing the results in an internal view in Trados Studio:

The viewer is just rendering the IATE website inside Studio so you don’t have multiple seacrh windows open and you can avoid the distraction of your web browser while you work!


We also added some IATE related features to “Tell me” in Studio so once you have installed the plugin you can type IATE into “Tell me” and you’ll get a few useful links including places to get some help or provide feedback on the plugin as you use it

All in all this is a very welcome addition to the SDL AppStore and I believe will be used by many translators working in the EU language pairs.  Thanks to IATE for providing this, and even more so for publishing the API.  Developers rule!

… 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?”

square pegs in round holes…

01It’s all about the termbase definition when you want to merge termbases, or import data into MultiTerm termbases.  The XDT… otherwise known as the MultiTerm Termbase Definition file is the key to being able to ensure you are not trying to knock square pegs into round holes!  I’ve written in the past about the flexibility of MultiTerm and it’s this flexibility that can make it tricky for new users when they try to merge their collections of termbases together, or add to their data by importing a file from a colleague.

02So what do we mean by definition?  Let’s think about keys as I think this is quite a good analogy… the four keys in the image on the right will all open a lock, but they won’t all open the same lock.  If you want one of these keys to open another lock then you need to change its shape, or it’s “definition”, to be able to open the lock.  A termbase definition works in a similar way because MultiTerm is flexible enough to support you creating your own lock.  That lock might be the same as someone else’s, but theirs could also have a different number of pins and tumblers which means your key won’t fit.

Continue reading “square pegs in round holes…”

Committing the cardinal sin…

001Strong words… “Committing the Cardinal Sin“!

I can remember from my early days with SDL many interesting, and often frustrating conversations with the then Product Manager for MultiTerm.  The almost religious use of phrases like “You can’t use spreadsheets for terminology”… “It only takes a few steps to be able to create a simple glossary with MultiTerm”… “You can’t properly export a MultiTerm termbase to Excel”… and many more discussions along these lines.  Well, over the last year or so mainly thanks to the SDL OpenExchange which removes the shackles of being tied to “the way it’s always done” we have seen one tool in particular that has proven this traditional way of thinking wrong.  But not because our friendly product manager was wrong… he was mostly right.  When you think about Terminology Management in the traditional sense then Excel is not really suited to managing concept oriented databases that are designed for the terminology professional.  It has its place, but is definitely prone to error and difficult to manage as the database grows.  But what if you only want a glossary?

Continue reading “Committing the cardinal sin…”

Feature rich… it’s overflowing!

01I first wrote about the Glossary Converter on September 17, 2012… over three years ago.  Not only is it a surprisingly long time ago, but I still meet people at every conference I attend who have never heard of this marvelous little tool, and in some cases never heard of the OpenExchange either.  So when I toyed with the idea of writing an article about Xmas coming early and talking about the OpenExchange and all the goodies inside, part of me couldn’t resist writing about this tool again.  In the three years since it was first released it’s morphed beyond all recognition and today it’s awash with features that belie it’s appearance.

I like to take a little credit for the emergence of this tool because back in 2012 I asked around trying to get someone to create one so that it was straightforward for anyone to create a MultiTerm Glossary from a simple two column spreadsheet… the sort of glossary that most translators use for their day to day needs.  I was over the moon when Gerhard (the developer) was interested and created the tool I wrote about back then.  But I can take no credit whatsoever for what the tool has become today and it’s well worth revisiting!

Continue reading “Feature rich… it’s overflowing!”

It’s not all head in the clouds!!


When the developer of the Word Cloud plugin for SDL Trados Studio first showed me the application he developed I was pretty impressed… mainly because it just looked so cool, but also because I could think of a couple of useful applications for it.

  1. You could see at a glance what the content of the project was and how interesting it might be for you
  2. It looks cool… or did I say that already?

Continue reading “It’s not all head in the clouds!!”

Product Comparisons… apples and oranges?

01When we want to purchase software what’s the first thing we do?  I know what I do… I look around on the internet for websites where I can learn more about the tools I’m interested in and only purchase if I can try them myself, and I imagine you’re no different.  If I want to compare TEnTs (Translation Environment Tools) it’s a small and very competitive field and you don’t see the sort of widely published comparisons you might for Office products, or desktop publishing tools for example.  So one place to start might be reviews from real users… but can you trust them?  They are often written by fans of a particular product who like to rate the comparisons based on their own personal choice, and often the comments they make about other tools are based on not knowing other tools well enough.  Certainly when you read the comments from users of the tools that came off worse you can see it’s also quite an emotive area… although it’s good to see users so passionate about their translation tools.  Even articles that are written in a well meaning and honest way, such as the one that Emma Goldsmith co-authored with David Turner (comparison between Studio and Déjà Vu) last week, can raise the hackles of some users and if you take a look at the comments you’ll see what I mean!

Continue reading “Product Comparisons… apples and oranges?”