About this blog

Translator's Shack is a collection of links, news, reviews and opinions about translation technologies. It's edited and updated by Roberto Savelli, an English to Italian translator, project manager and company owner of Albatros Soluzioni Linguistiche, a team of English-Italian translators, which hosts and supports this blog.

The Life as a PM category, managed by Gabriella Ascari, contains topics that are less technical in nature, but which we're sure will be appreciated by owners of small translation businesses and freelancers.

Here are links to my pages on some social networks:

Highly recommended:

some pictures from memoQfest 2010

Jeromobot: clearly Budapest is not a safe place for you yet. Now we know why you weren’t there…
IMG_4860 IMG_4865IMG_4848
IMG_4861 IMG_4863 IMG_4859
memoQ users among (other) kings

memoQfest 2010 - TM Repository

Moravia are the first adopters of the TM Repository.

The main problem with the TM repository so far was: “what is it, and what is it intended for?”

According to statistics, 80% of new software projects fail if there is no clear vision about the project. The TM Repository project has been put on hold for a certain period, but the company has resumed development now that there is such a vision.

Problem statements

TMs can be scattered in hundreds of tiny files.

Or, in a “big mama” type of approach, the TMs are managed by using filters and metadata. A project TM is a TM that only contains the segments (e.g. from a “big mama”) that are relevant to a specific project.

Including the reviewing process into the technology is essential. Some reviewers will refuse to use a translation environment to review a text (this has been solved by memoQ’s RTF columnar export).

TM contents need regular cleanup. What needs to be deleted/fixed: outdated entries, bad translations, “other” garbage.

In technical documentation, there is a lot of terminology that refers to concepts that get deprecated.

Cross-tool TMX transfer does not give good enough leverage. Attributes specified in one tool will often not be transferred to a different tool.

Context information: how can we transfer the context information (saved as hashes in Trados Studio TMs and as clear text in memoQ)? In short, we can’t. The hashing algorithm used in Idiom is patented. In other cases, it’s kept secret.

Features and workflows

  • Single database with TMX import/export. At its current stage TM Repository can only receive TMX files.

  • It accepts any sort of metadata (client, project number, dates, etc.), no matter which tool was used to create the TMX.

  • The TM is extracted from TM Repository and can be modified in any translation tool. The TM then needs to get back into the TM Repository, which offers complex features for comparing the new TM to the current contents of the repository.

  • You can import TMs containing one language pair and merge them into a multi-pair TM, then split it again in sub-pairs.

  • Version control and rollbacks: entry history is included for every translation unit. If you make a mistake, you can always roll back to the previous version

  • TM Repository is tool-agnostic. Every attribute is converted to an attribute system that is specified by the user for the TM Repository. Preconfigured mapping templates are available.

  • Full-text (not fuzzy!) concordance search

  • Search and replace in the repository

Next steps

  • A beta version is available now
  • A connector to memoQ Server is in the works. It will make import/exports from/to memoQ transparent through an integration API.


Back-end database application with no direct connection to translation management systems (for now). Requires a dedicated server, as it’s resource-intensive.

In its current state, TM Repository will not allow you to upload a translatable project, run a fuzzy-match analysis, and extract the relevant translation units from the repository, regardless of the metadata. From my personal point of view this is a real show-stopper. I cannot see real potential in this product for a small LSP if it does not offer this kind of functionality.

memoQfest 2010 – How to be successful in the translation industry

Isabella Moore from Comtec gave a very interesting presentation this morning here at memoQfest in Budapest. I am posting the four final points that summarize the issues she discussed.

Communicate results to staff: this will improve the relationship between the company members at all levels (from management to employees) because it gives everyone a good feedback about the overall performance. Interestingly, this aspect is perceived as being very important by employees.

You can’t do everything yourself: learn to delegate and start doing it now.

Join networks, but be  selective: some of them can be a waste of time and resources (this includes online networks, in my opinion)

Consider selling to the public sector: A considerable chunk of Comtek’s turnover comes from the public sector. Of course, approaching this sector requires specific strategies that are different from those that apply to the private sector.

memoQfest 2010 – Q&A with Kilgray management

After an in-depth explanation of the “do not press this button” button (short answer: you can press it if you find it in a software program but you shouldn’t press it if you are in a steam bath), a Q&A session started with Kilgray management.

Training opportunities and initiatives will be expanded. Some of the information about trainers is already on Kilgray’s  website. Training is seen as a great opportunity for expanding memoQ’s user base.

Suggestion to allow translators to register as memoQ users in order to reach new clients, i.e. memoQ translator marketplace. There are no plans for such a program at this point.

memoQ localized interface and manuals will be available in many more languages very soon.

One recurring request is to have a stripped-down “server” version that would allow two translators to share a resources. The answer may be to adapt the existing offering rather than developing a whole new product.

Another requested feature is the ability to allow the insertion of short translated texts to a TM without going through the procedure of opening an existing project or starting a new one. There are no plans to add such a feature for the time being.

Final words of praise and a warning from one user: Kilgray, please do not lose your personality and accessibility and become a “corporation”.

memoQfest 2010 – “ask the Geeks” Q&A session

New feature for memoQ 4.2 or later: project archival. Backup and restore functionality for the project including TM and TB. Useful for moving projects to a new PC and keep two PCs in sync.

Speed degradation on network drives: it’s a problem created by the underlying input/output system.

More on archiving and paths. Suggestion to make relative path as the default. This suggestion is being considered.

In 4.2 a brand-new aligner is available. Interface has been reworked, improvements with multiple documents. Segments are editable.

Problems in handling Chinese/Japanese content:The focus from the input method editor shifts away from the main window. Developers are working to solve the problem. It appears to be a rather complex bug. There is also an alleged problem with fonts since version 4.0. If you copy Japanese text from the source to the target and the target uses a Latin-based font, you may get useless squares. However, most users translating from/to Japanese do not have a problem with this.

Dragon Naturally Speaking support: support in the 4.0 version has problems. These should be solved in version 4.2.

Feature request: hide the mouse pointer when the user starts typing. This is probably already supported by your mouse driver.

Plans to have a clone project feature for local projects.

Feature request: search for tags and/or filter for tags. It’s being considered.

Request: make the metadata from the term base visible in the translation environment. In all probability, qTerm will be addressing this issue.

Hunspell problem with the Rumanian dictionary. Perhaps the best solution is to replace the default dictionary with a new one.

Ctrl-shift-B – Ctrl-shift-N keyboard shortcut allows to move the selection to the left/right.

Request: if the source term is in small caps, insert it as small caps even if it’s capitalized in the target term base.

Fragment-assembling: often short segments from the TM take precedence over the same term from the term base. Sometimes the result is that a term is inserted with wrong capitalization. Perhaps this issue will be solved in qTerm. qTerm will also offer filtering capabilities.

Inverting the “direction” of translation memories. Version 4.5 will introduce features that will make this “problem” obsolete.

Inline tags: if you have translated a project containing bilingual files that use the “old” (inserted by F8) type of tags, and then receive a new version that use the “new” version tags (F9), your match rates will decrease because the tags are not substituted on-the-fly. This is something the developers are working on.

Request: LAN access to term bases and translation memories without using memoQ server: this is recognized as an important feature, but it’s not going to happen. Tiny translator groups still have to purchase the server version if they want to share resources.

Request: add a keyboard shortcut to add a term as untranslatable. This is being considered as an addition to future versions.

memoQfest – XLIFF as a bilingual interchange format

Presentation by Thomas Imhof from localix.biz. Just some quick notes here.

Some interesting concepts:

  • allows translators to concentrate on the text rather than on the formatting.
  • standardized exchange of localization data
  • can serve as a common format for localization tool vendors
  • supports review comments, translation status of each string
  • XLIFF allows to create the target document at any stage
  • Custom namespaces and attribute values allow to extend the information included in XLIFF files

Some limitations of XLIFF:

  • XLIFF knows nothing about segmentation. [see comments section. This appears not to be the case]
  • Extensibility is limited to the specific tool that added the specific extra features.
  • Inline elements: XLIFF does not control the filtering process, so the notation of inline elements in entirely in the hands of the translation tool vendor.

XLIFF support in the current translation tools:

Thomas divides XLIFF support in today’s tools into three groups:

level 1: source is copied to target. Considered as “messy”, offered by many translation tools today

level 2: offered by memoQ and Trados Studio: opens the files correctly and handles elements more or less correctly. Use custom namespaces for tool-specific functionality.

level 3: offered by Swordfish and Heartsome, offer full support for all of functionalities and features, do not add custom namespaces. They use the “note” element offered by XLIFF.

memoQ works well when opening third-party XLIFF files. Roundtrip of SDLXLIFF files produced by Trados studio works well, but some Trados-specific attributes (e.g. segment status) are not updated.

Best practices:

  • make sure XLIFF file is bilingual and not multilingual
  • alt-trans elements are not supported in memoQ
  • etc.

memoQfest 2010 – AGITO Translate

Next item on the program is AGITO Translate, a web-based translation environment based on memoQ server. The foundation for this system are the memoQ APIs

The main feature of this system is its simplicity. Thor Angelo from LanguageWire (the translation company that develops AGITO) admits that although AGITO might be even too simple for some translators, it’s the ideal solution for some clients who require super-fast turnaround and who send frequent, but small chunks of material to be translated. For instance, advertising agencies, web service companies, search engine optimization firms.

AGITO offers a modular approach (term base, translation, editor, integration, authoring, etc.). Clients, as well as translators, can access it through the web interface.

Interesting concept: a brief history outlining the transition of tools from everything offline, to TB and TM online, to documents online, to application online, which is supposed to be the final stage we are getting to now.

AGITO allows translators and proofreaders to access the same document simultaneously. No software installation is required, and project managers can see the real-time status of each job.

Some examples of problems on the user’s end were presented, for instance trouble with installing translation tools, problems with the timely delivery, with completeness, etc. AGITO aims to solve this problems by simplifying the whole process on the translator’s end.

During the Q&A session, some concerns were raised by the audience, e.g. spelling control (it’s handled by the browser), quality assessment (there are some basic checks like double spaces etc. but according to LanguageWire a separate proofreader is the way to go). Also, the translator is not allowed to use his/her own translation memories or term bases. Moreover, at the current stage the translator has no local copy of the translation material.

Some concern was expressed about confidentiality. The system is protected by secured passwords. “Just like your home banking system”.

The system is, in theory, ideal for crowdsourced translation projects.

In conclusion, AGITO is certainly not a product tat our team of translators would like to use any time soon, but it’s an innovative concept that could be interesting for some agencies that work with very tight deadlines and require multi-user collaboration without the overhead of supporting local installations.

memoQfest 2010 – Kilgray technology update

Gábor L. Ugray talked about some new aspects introduced by version 4.0, like the use of “resources” (e.g. the expected translation memories and term bases, but also segmentation rules, filter configurations, QA settings etc.), all of which can be shared on a server and deployed to the various translators from one central point.

Gábor briefly explained the concept of of offline project handoffs, in which the project managers sets the project preferences (like TMs and TBs to uses, as well as more specific settings) and sends handoff packages to the translators, who do not have to worry about the setup, because it’s already contained in the handoff.

New editor created for version 4.0, now unicode-enabled. A vast improvement over the previous versions of the editor, where tasks like selecting text using the keyboard were a bit awkward.

The memoQ server API (for connecting memoQ server to project management systems and customer management systems, for instance) is not complete for 4.0, but it’s going to be fully available for 4.2, to be released this week.

Machine translation integration: Kilgray is still evaluating this feature. There are still some concerns about privacy, licenses, copyrights, etc to be addressed.

Some other concepts in the pipeline: online review interface built around memoQ server (allowing reviewers to work in a browser even if they do not have memoQ), qTerm terminology management system (with TBX support and memoQ integration), plus “two major surprises”, probably two new versions to be released before the end of the year.

Kilgray is also working on terminology extraction features, to be released sometime in the future.

During the Q&A session, the availability of a Java property filter functionality was revealed.

memoQfest 2010 – Kilgray’s progress report

Kilgray’s progress report – some notes

I’m posting a few notes about the technical aspects that were mentioned during this presentation by Balázs Kis and Peter Reynolds.

Version 4.2 will be released during the memoQfest, probably today or tomorrow. Some significant new features are included, like the two-column export format (allowing reviewers to work on bilingual files without using a translation tool).

TM Repository is approaching its release date.

qTerm online terminology management system will be released later this year.

Interestingly, the concept of “empathy” was used to describe the approach to product support.

memoQ masterclass by Angelika Zerfass, part 3

memoQ term bases

After the lunch break, the structure of memoQ term base entries was discussed. Angelika explained the import mappings for CSV files.

One trick for importing term bases in the fastest way possible: if you work frequently with one language pair and always use the same term base structure, export a sample term base from memoQ and delete all the content except the rows containing the headings. Then use this CSV template every time by pasting your contents under the column headings. When you have to import the resulting term base into memoQ, you will not need to do any mapping, because the column headings will be correctly accepted and configured by memoQ.

In the current version of memoQ, only 5-6 hard-coded fields are available. While this is probably enough for most translators, organizations that have terminology management systems feel the limitation of this setup. That’s why Kilgray will introduce a brand-new terminology system that will contain custom fields and complex structures.

Terminology plug-ins

memoQ 4.2 offers terminology plug-ins. One example is the EuroTermBank: if you start a term lookup (ctrl-P) , you can type a term search and specify to search the term not only in the normal memoQ term bases, but also in the online EuroTermBank database. Kilgray is part of the EuroTermBank consortium and can offer this feature to all its users for free. Needless to say, you need to be online in order to use this plug-in.

Two-column RTF export

Balázs Kis then proceeded to show the brand-new functionality called two-column RTF export. In the presentation, Balázs added a couple of comments to some segments, created a view that only included commented segments, and proceeded to export the view as a two-column RTF file. He then opened the resulting file in Word. The resulting file is a multi-column, editable file that a reviewer can use even if she does not have memoQ. The third column contains a color-coded value of the segment status. The general comment in the room was “this is better implemented than in Déja Vu”, “great!”. There was even some applause! You could really tell that this was a long-awaited feature.