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1. Emulating Kafka: Which Office Do I Need to
In past Tool Box Journals I made it a
habit to report in length on new versions of Microsoft Office. But Office
2016 was officially released last September and I haven't even
mentioned it. Why? Because there really is so very little that is new and
different. (The only thing that makes a difference to me is the easier way
of attaching the file I just saved to an email in Outlook -- but
that hardly warrants a big article.)
In the past there's been a lack of new
features for some other Office releases, but overall this one is
more extreme. If you look back at the last few major releases of Office
and where they really made a huge difference to translators, it would be
the introduction and support of Unicode with Office 2000, the new
XML-based "x"-formats with Office 2007, and the free
availability of spell (and grammar) checkers in the supported languages in Office
I can sympathize with the Microsoft
developers -- it can't be easy to come up with new features for tools that
are fairly mature overall. That's one of the reasons why Microsoft was only
too happy to jump on the bandwagon of a subscription-based model where users
have to pay annually for "Office 365," which automatically
updates you to the latest version, no matter whether it's 2013, 2016,
or 2019. And if you utilize the option to have it installed on five
computers with one subscription, the $100 or so per year is relatively
This brings me to the two points that I'd
like to make (yes, there is a point to all this rambling!):
- Maturity of
translation environment tools
Let's start with the latter. While Microsoft
Office developers might be pitied for their "enhanced
creativity requirements" when it comes to making a mature tool seem
more so with every release, the same cannot be said for developers of
translation environment tools -- at least not right now.
Ironically, there was a time when it looked
different. Take, for instance, Trados 7. When it was released in
2005, its flagship features were better XML support and Indic language
support. I remember looking at the press
releases and wondering who would even
consider upgrading, except for users with those rather specific
requirements? Very much like the current version of Office.
That was a time when new ideas had just kind
of stopped. Trados was really only competing with SDL's SDLX program
(and maybe Wordfast) on the translation side and Idiom (now SDL
WorldServer) on the corporate side; the refinement of the technology
underlying translation memories had essentially halted; terminology
management was just not used very much (at least by Trados users); SDLX
had not released its QA module, which would push developments in that area:
memoQ was still in its infancy; and the first cloud-based TEnT, Lingotek,
hadn't yet been launched. Why bother, right?
Well, things are different today. Very
different, in fact, and I'm so thankful for it.
- Competition has
multiplied -- and not just by creating quasi-clones, but with new and
- Translation memory
usage has been completely redefined -- from a database that holds
rarely used potential perfect and fuzzy matches to a repository that
can be used on a much more granular level for translation, or for
single-language authoring, or to train machine translation engines,
and so on and so forth.
management has been simplified, resulting in much greater usage (and
awareness of its necessity).
- Machine translation
has become an integral part of the translation process in ever more
creative and intuitive ways.
- Quality assurance is
a well-established component of virtually all translation environment
tools and is expected to be used.
- Real-time online
cooperation within translation teams is supported by most tools, no
matter whether they are browser-based or not.
- And talking about
browser-based tools: New tools are almost without exception
browser-based, and the "old" tools have started to offer the
option of using browser-based interfaces right next to their
I know I've said this a million times, but
it truly is a good and exciting time to be a translator.
On to the second topic, subscription-based
But let's make that a whole new article...
news for SDL Trados Studio users!
memoQ's plugin provides SDL Trados Studio users with direct
access to TMs on memoQ servers.
Learn more and give it a try at www.memoq.com/memoq-plugin-for-sdl-trados-studio.
2. Subscription-Based Pricing (Premium
feel like I'm a little out of my league talking about this, but here it
has increasingly become the norm to pay for software through
subscription-based pricing. With browser- and cloud-based tools, the SaaS
(software-as-a-service) model seems to make a lot of sense.
. . . you can find the rest of this
article about the problems with subscription-based pricing for software
products and services in the premium edition. If you'd like to read more,
an annual subscription to the premium edition costs just $25 at www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit.
Or you can purchase the new edition of the Translator's Tool Box
ebook and receive an annual subscription for free.
the office 20 minutes earlier today!
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3. The Tech-Savvy Interpreter: Intrakit --
Terminology and Customizable Glossaries in the Palm of Your Hande (Column
by Barry Slaughter Olsen)
The Tech-Savvy Interpreter is back from
summer vacation! Lest you think I've been lounging on a sandy beach for two
months listening to the waves and enjoying fruity drinks with little
umbrellas in them, I should explain that I have been busy teaching several
workshops about the language professions to graduate students at the Middlebury Language Schools
in Vermont. I'm happy to report that there is great interest among
university students in the language professions.
Before taking my summer break, I dedicated
several columns to reviewing technologies that deliver remote interpreting
services in new ways. This month I want to change focus and take a look at
a new electronic glossary platform called Intrakit.
(Yes, that's a snazzy little play on words. "Intricate" and
"intra" and "kit") Built initially with practicing
court and medical interpreters in mind, Intrakit is an app that is
preloaded with eleven different topical glossaries (legal, medical,
business and finance, weapons and ballistics, drugs, forensics, academia,
fashion and textiles, government, tech, and industry), which are all fully
available and searchable offline.
The idea of electronic glossaries is not
new, and electronic reference materials abound. The problem is that few, if
any, are designed for use by interpreters and most require Internet access
and a laptop computer to use them the way they were designed. This kind of
setup works well for conference interpreters who normally work in a booth
all day. But what about interpreters working in the courts, hospitals or
other settings where they are often moving from one place to another or
even standing up while working and where dependable internet access is not
Intrakit, which is currently available for both Android
and iOS, was designed specifically to address these kinds of
scenarios. The brainchild of Melannie Lopez, a Kentucky-based certified
court interpreter and entrepreneur, this app puts thousands of terms in the
palm of your hand in bilingual English/Spanish glossaries organized into
the broad topics I've mentioned above.
How It Works
Intrakit is a simple and relatively small app (approx. 50 MB on
iOS and 40 MB on Android). The app has an intuitive interface and does not
require large amounts of time to learn how to use it. It really is as
simple as opening a glossary and using the search bar at the top of the
screen to track down the terms you are looking for. You can search
within individual glossaries or use the "Global Search" feature
to search across all eleven specialized glossaries at once.
Once you have found a term you need, you can
tap on it and mark it as a "favorite," which then includes the
term on a personal list of favorites that can be easily accessed from the
main menu before or during a job. This feature is extremely practical and
helpful for preparing that short but crucial list of high frequency or key
terms for individual assignments. The favorites list can then be cleared
and repopulated with new terms as you prepare for the next assignment.
You can also build your own glossaries with Intrakit
and store them in "My Library" but you must type in terms one by
one, which can be a little tedious on a smartphone. I'd love to see a
feature in the future where you can easily drop existing glossary items
into personal glossaries with just a couple taps of the screen.
One feature that deserves a hat tip is the
adjustable font size. My middle-aged eyes are most grateful for the larger
fonts. Each glossary has small +/- buttons at the bottom left of the screen
to increase or decrease font size.
Room for Improvement
Although well designed and useful, Intrakit
is still rough around the edges. After a few interactions with it, I found
a few glossary entries with mistakes, mainly spelling errors, but this
should not be seen as a deal breaker. The mistakes are the kind that I have
seen creep into the personal glossaries of many an interpreter (including
my own). If anything, they speak to the authenticity of the source material
created by interpreters for interpreters. They will be ferreted out and
corrected over time. This is not the fruit of terminologists working in
isolation on the latest edition of a Webster's or Oxford dictionary, and
that is a good thing because what's in the glossaries, is just what you
need while working.
There are also a few bugs that are
inevitable with the first iteration of any app. For example, the
alphabetized side index does not always take you to the desired location in
some glossaries, and there is a slight delay when the glossaries are
loading on the iOS versions and when you use your finger to scroll
through the list of entries. The folks at Code Switch Media have assured me
that they are aware of the bugs that I found and that they are busy working
on getting them fixed.
You can download a fully functional copy of Intrakit
and try it out for seven days to see if you like it. Code Switch Media's
current business model is to sell the app for a flat fee through an in-app
purchase after the trial period. This fee includes all future upgrades.
However, Melanie told me that in September 2016 they will switch to a
monthly subscription model. All apps purchased before the switch will be
grandfathered in and will not have to pay the monthly subscription fee.
The reason for the switch to a subscription
model has to do with big plans in the works for Intrakit such as
synching of glossaries across multiple devices and the ability to share
glossaries with other users in the Intrakit community. Currently
the app is available only in the English-Spanish combination. However, in
the coming months they will release an English-only version with all the
terminology of the thematic glossaries that will allow interpreters of
other languages to begin building out their own glossaries in the language
combination of their choice. I'll take another look at the app in a few
months to see how those plans are going.
I applaud Code Switch Media's efforts to put
out a useful tool for interpreters to use in their professional practice.
Fact is, interpreters should welcome this kind of reality-based innovation
by colleagues from within our field. I encourage you to check it out and
support it, if it proves valuable for you. Otherwise, these kinds of apps
will disappear and there will be little or no incentive for further
Intrakit is available now in the App Store
Do you have a question about a specific
technology? Or would you like to learn more about a specific interpreting
platform, interpreter console or supporting technology? Send us an email at
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4. The Fix Is In
I have a really great story to tell. A story
that can and should be used as a bright and shining example of how we as a
translation community need to approach technology to shape it in the way
we'll need it to work efficiently.
It's about the small British company Iceni
Technology that specializes in preparing PDFs so they can be edited almost
like a normal document in their own Infix PDF Editor. At its core,
it's a tool that opens any PDF and lets you format, edit, or add text --
which is displayed in resizable text boxes -- and manipulate and replace
graphics within the PDF without performing any conversion to another
Theoretically it's possible to also
translate within Infix, but since you want to use a translation
environment tool for text of any appreciable length, the tool also offered
"CAT Export" and "CAT Import" features that allowed you
to export the text elements into an XML format that could be processed in
any kind of TEnT that supported XML. And translators took note. Kevin
Lossner, for instance, wrote reviews on using Infix for translation
in 2009 and 2014, and others took it upon themselves to contact the
developers at Iceni and teach them what translators really want. And that's
really where the story starts. Iceni listened. Infix PDF Editor's
version 7, which was just released three or so weeks ago, has made definite
and clear inroads toward making this tool an option that translators need
to be aware of and possibly use. SDL's Paul Filkin made this very clear in
blog post and accompanying video on
In the newly introduced Translate
menu, you now have options like Export as XLIFF and Import
translated XLIFF because, as Iceni's Guy Bushnell told me, they only
started to realize what translators really wanted after they started
talking with them. The XLIFF file will be converted at the TransPDF.com site, which is Iceni's cloud-based part of the
offering. If you watch Paul's video you can see how things happen
simultaneously in the desktop tool and the cloud.
One of the reasons why this is important has
to do with its licensing model, and it fits really well with what I
mentioned in the other article about subscription-based licensing.
Infix PDF Editor comes with subscription-based licensing. It costs
$9.95 a month, or about $100 a year. This might be a good deal if you work
with PDFs all the time and have to process dozens a month. But if you're
more like me (and my kids would plead with you not to take me up on that),
you only run into a PDF file for translation maybe a couple of times a
month. Ten bucks for those PDFs seems pretty steep, and the old perpetual licensing
that Iceni used to offer for $160 would have been a much better deal
(though you wouldn't of course have access to the latest version with its
improved XLIFF conversion).
Naturally, the subscription allows you to
convert as many PDF files as you want. However, if you deal with a PDF file
only every once in a while, you could also use the free trial version of Infix,
upload your PDFs to TransPDF.com, and then purchase them for 50 cents a
page. Then -- and this is where the offer becomes interesting -- you could
use the full set of Infix features once it's translated (Infix
will recognize the purchased status of the PDF and unlock itself).
Of course, you could also skip
using Infix altogether and just convert your PDF file to XLIFF on
TransPDF.com, translate it in your TEnT, and then convert it back to PDF --
but that doesn't bode well for the success of your project, since the PDF
will need some touch-up work before you can send it back to the client.
Now that we've talked about the licensing
questions, what about the quality of the actual conversion? It's pretty
good. Not fantastic, but you'll need to keep in mind that we are dealing
with a pretty darn frustrating format. The files that
I ran through as a test were relatively heavily formatted, and though I
would have had to spend some time in Infix to fix them in the direct
PDF-to-PDF conversion (with the XLIFF interim format in-between), it was
certainly better than expected. Much better.
Here are some problems that I
encountered and discussed with Guy. (Wouldn't you love to have that name?
Every time someone greets you as "Hey, guy!" because he forgot
your actual name, you would feel all nice and fuzzy because you can
mistakenly think they really paid attention when you first introduced yourself.)
One problem is the PDF-to-PDF conversion.
While this sounds great in general, I think it would be very helpful
to also have the option to output the file into a word-processing
format (RTF or DOCX) so the client can do some editing, proofreading, or
whatever with the file as well. Kind of a no-brainer, I think, and Guy has
already started to work on it.
The other is that, while Infix does
have an embedded optical character recognition (OCR) engine -- by Nicomsoft -- for about 20 Latin and Cyrillic languages, it works
(so-so) only on pages that contain only images (so no mixing of some
textual elements and images), and as far as the conversion for translation,
it does not work at all. So there is some definite room for improvement
By the way, the tool's user interface comes
in a number of languages, but unfortunately the documentation comes in
English only -- with a Google Translate button at the bottom of each
page. Ouch. Not really a way to catapult yourself into the hearts of
translators, but maybe I'm just being nit-picky now.
It is awesome that Iceni is planning for a
number of integrations into translation environment tools. The development
of an SDL Trados plugin will be launched soon, they've done what
needed to be done for an integration with memoQ (and are now waiting
for Kilgray to do its part), and another yet-to-be-named TEnT will have it
fully integrated in its next release.
Guy made an interesting comment about the
different ways of integrating into the tool: "It's nice that with SDL
we'll actually be able to do it all ourselves and won't have to rely on the
release schedules of others!"
on the Memsource blog:
5. N1w P6m f1r L10n T6g
Wondering what that means? Well, obviously
it's "New Platform for Localization Training"! I can't believe
you didn't know that! Isn't it obvious that you just replace the letters
between the first and last letter of each word with their corresponding
Yes, I'm being a little facetious. I've
always had a strong dislike for terms like l10n or i18n, but that did not
dissuade me from looking at l10ntrain.com or Localization Training and liking what I saw.
I've talked about the project with Martin
Güttinger, one of the founders (the others are Angelika
Zerfass and Gary
Lefman, all three of whom are
super-experienced l12s -- aka localizers -- as well as two unnamed silent
partners), and they have some very interesting plans.
But, first, what is it now? It's a
platform (p6m) (okay, I'll stop!) that hosts a number of localization
training and informational videos. The informational videos are mostly free
(many of them are from Welocalize, describing their translation management
system and machine translation efforts), whereas some of the training
content has to be paid for.
I went through the training course on the
latest version of Passolo, conducted by Martin himself, and I have
to say that I was impressed with the high quality of the in-depth training
and particularly with the challenging tests at the end of each unit. You
actually have to have gone through the coursework to answer the questions
rather than simply relying on common sense (as is so often the case in such
What does passing the test entitle you for
at this point? Nothing, really, except that you can use it on your résumé,
I guess, but it should really put you in a good position to work well with
the tools or subject covered.
Eventually, and this is where we come to the
future plans, there will be official certificates issued by Localization
Training (2017), and ultimately there will be a way to become a
certified localization professional on the site (2018/2019). The team plans
to cooperate with other organizations and programs for this certification.
I asked Martin how much material they hope
to have before they offer an encompassing certification, and he figured
that there would have to be between 80 and 120 hours of high-quality
I admire the kind of long-term vision that
Martin, Angelika, and Gary have for this project.
Some of you might remember that I partnered
with Italian translation company Intrawelt a number of years ago to build
up a site called TranslatorsTraining.com. While the goal was never to offer
a certification like Localization Training does, we also offered a
large number of video-based tutorials of translation environment and
localization tools that were primarily aimed at helping users make a
purchasing decision by being able to compare the different tools without
investing an extraordinary amount of time. The site ran for about two years
and got great reviews from all kinds of people (it was really good!), but
we never found a way to monetize it properly. Since we had to invest an
obscene amount of time into keeping the site and videos current, we
eventually decided to shut it down.
Hats off to Martin et al for having more
patience and vision. I hope they will succeed. Be sure to check it out and
continue to come back to see what's new.
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