is a translation environment tool that many love to hate -- more on
that later -- but there are actually some -- even translators -- who
really like it. While numbers are not always the best indicators, they
still have some validity, and here are some that were given to me a
couple of months ago by the folks from Across. The free version for
freelancers and students had a total of 26,979 users with about 900 new
monthly registrations. Those numbers may not really be that meaningful
because any and every translator who ever worked with a client who used
Across had to download and register it -- and many
several times -- but here is a number that is more meaningful:
worldwide there are 950 Across server installations, 65% of
which are translation buyers and 35% LSPs.
Across is just about to release version 6, and I had a chance to talk
with Across's Christian Weih about it. In general I think it would be
fair to say that the new version will be focused primarily on the
server users with a number of business-friendly features. This is not
surprising. Not only are those the two groups that actually pay for the
product, but Across has also spent a fair amount of effort talking to
these two user groups with events like the LSP Day they just convened.
did promise, though, that in the next version there will be
significantly more emphasis on the translation aspect of the tool,
which will include invitations to groups of translators who will help
shape some of the translation interface that many feel is not
particularly ergonomic and user-friendly. One of the features that will
be introduced at that point will be the ability to work directly in the
translation grid rather than in a separate area like some other tools
also offered in the 1990s.
to the new version at hand. The new features include a new engine with
a much smaller footprint on your computer -- some of you might yawn
when you read that, but those who have used Across, especially
some of the very resource-heavy earlier versions, will be
"What do you want to do" that is displayed when you open Across
(which I personally always found kind of silly) is now replaced with a
"Dashboard". This Dashboard is sort of reminiscent of the Windows 8
tile view (the Across tiles are called "dashlets") but
potentially more useful. Folks who work in Across for most of
the day will be able to place customizable links for all kinds of Across
and non-Across resources and applications. For those who use Across
in a more limited fashion, it will probably not be too relevant.
project managers, the "Cockpit" (hey, I'm trying to be kind and not
make fun of all these names) will probably be the most relevant new
feature. Project management was rather rigid (Christian's own words) in
Across, with very few ways to customize; now the
Cockpit view, which is the central control console with all the
projects listed for the project manager, can be filtered and adjusted
to any criteria.
the business manager, the "Data Cube" should be the most relevant
feature. The Data Cube is a business intelligence module that allows
you to run a large number of preconfigured and customizable reports in Excel,
based on data that is automatically extracted from Across.
Really the only translation environment tool that I'm aware of that is
able to produce a similar range of reports with such ease is Wordbee.
I was quite impressed with that feature, and I also liked the fact that
it's done within Excel, which not only is the most familiar
environments for "business types" but also makes it very easy to share
element that I find interesting is the web-based review mode that
includes a change history, a nice feature for customer edits without
having to install the desktop client.
a side note, I thought it was remarkable that for the last few years,
development efforts for Across have taken place first in the
web client (which typically is harder to program) and are then ported
to the desktop client to assure as much feature parity as possible.
some groups within the translation chain, the new version 6 should be a
welcome new version. For translators it probably does not make that
much of a difference -- and hopefully this will be different in the
I end, let me make a few comments about a topic that has caused a
measure of anger among some in the world of translation.
is a certain kind of political correctness when it comes to technology
in general, and translation technology in particular. The "correctest"
political correctness is to say that "the tool that we develop supports
open exchange standards because we believe in an open world where users
can choose whatever they like." Virtually every tool vendor makes this
claim and does more or less support the typical standards, including
TMX, TBX, and XLIFF, even though no tool vendor truly wants users to
choose whatever tool -- that would be business folly.
has never supported exchange standards and has recently found that this
is actually a marketing message that might just work for the business
segment they are aiming at. There is no other company with the gall to
say publicly, "We don't believe in open project exchange formats" -- as
Christian Weih did earlier this week (again). Some (including some of
you) have really, really strong sentiments about that and are not shy
to express those, but whenever I hear him say that, I can't help but
smile. We are not a monolithic industry. We are like a quilt made up of
many patches with very, very different interests. If Across customers
either ask for a closed system that prevents data being taken out or
external data being brought in, or if Across is able to convince them
that's in their best interest, let them be. It's not great for
translators -- I know that, I am one myself and I have (rarely) worked
with Across -- but it might just be the way to get to those
clients who will either like it or at some point realize that this is
not the most current of concepts and then change technology.
now, I can't but admire Across's honesty and marketing savvy -- and if
other developers are really honest, unless they are developing open
source software, I imagine there is an element of respect they have for
this "my way or the highway" kind of attitude. Even though they would
never admit to it.