The last few years have seen some chatter around the topic of “lights-out project management” which is an idea referring to the automation of tasks, particularly through the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence), so that human intervention is not required. Ideally, of course, allowing project managers to concentrate their efforts on other, more productive and value-added activities. The goal of reducing the time spent on administrative tasks is nothing new and some attempts to achieve this can be more of a false economy because of the “hidden” technical restrictions under the hood of the tools used.
In the last year or so many articles have been written about XLIFF 2.0 explaining what’s so great about it, so I’m not going to write another one of those. I’m in awe of the knowledge and effort the technical standard committees display in delivering the comprehensive documentation they do, working hard to deliver a solution to meet the needs of as many groups as possible. The very existence of a standard however does not mean it’s the panacea for every problem it may be loosely related to. It’s against this background I was prompted to write about this topic after reading this article questionning whether some companies were preventing translators from improving their lives. The article makes a number of claims which I think might be a little misguided in my opinion… in fact this is what it says:
XLIFF 2.0 is a “new” bilingual format for translation that attempts to do a handful important things for translators.
- Improve the standard so that different translation tools makers, like SDL, don’t “need” to create their own proprietary versions that are not compatible with other tools
- Creating true interoperability among tools, so translators can work in the tool of their choice, and end-customers can have flexibility about who they work with too
- Allow businesses to embed more information in the files, like TM matches glossaries, or annotations, further enhancing interoperability
I say “new” because XLIFF 2.0 has been around for years now. Unfortunately, adoption of the XLIFF 2.0 standard has been slow, due to tools makers and other players deciding that interoperability is not in their interest. It’s one of those things where commerce gets in the way of sanity.
We all know, I think, that translating a PDF should be the last resort. PDF stands for Portable Document Format and the reason they have this name is because they were intended for sharing with users on any platform irrespective of whether they owned the software used to create the original file or not. Used to share so they could be read. They were not intended to be editable, in fact the format is also used to make sure that the version you are reading can’t be edited. So how did we go from this original idea to so many translators having to find ways to translate them?
I think there are probably a couple or three reasons for this. First, the PDF might have been created using a piece of software that is not supported by the available translation tool technology and with no export/import capability. Secondly, some clients can be very cautious (that’s the best word I can find for this!) about sharing the original file, especially when it contains confidential information. So perhaps they mistakenly believe the translator will be able to handle the file without compromising the confidentiality, or perhaps they have been told that only the PDF can be shared and they lack the paygrade to make any other decision. A third reason is the client may not be able to get their hands on the original file used to create the PDF.
A strange title, and a stranger image with a pair of zebras and a road, but in keeping with the current fascination with animals during the SDL Spring Roadshows I thought it was quite fitting. Nothing at all to do with the subject other than the Zebras may be duplicated and they are hovering a road to somewhere that looks cold!
The problem posed at the SDL Trados Roadshow in Helsinki by some very technical attendees, after the event was over, was about how to efficiently work on a Translation Memory (TM) so you could remove all the unnecessary duplicates.