[I have written about Xbench a number of
times before, typically praising the versatility of the tool and the
responsiveness of its developers. In the last few months the pace of
Xbench's development seems to have increased even more with the release of
a large number of plugins and workflows for desktop-based and browser-based
tools. So I asked English-into-Italian translator Riccardo
Schiaffino, who has given many talks and presentations on Xbench, to
give you an update on what's happening with the tool.]
is an excellent tool for terminology management, glossary and translation
memory concordance searches, and translation QA. This program comes in two
versions: freeware (Xbench 2.9) and paid (Xbench 3.0). If you
only intend to use the program for terminology management and search, the
free version of the program is probably enough; depending on the CAT tool
you use, the free version also is useful for getting you started in
translation QA. If you try it and find it useful for QA, though, the added
functionality and file types support offered by the paid version increase
the value of the program.
Terminology Management and
When I first started using Xbench, it
was for terminology management and for translation memory concordance
search. At that time, the CAT tool I used the most was Trados 2007,
which allowed concordance searches only in the source language. At times,
though, I wanted to search in the target, but, since there was no way of
doing that in Trados, I got in the habit of using Xbench: I
could load in it one or more exported Trados translation memories,
and I could then use Xbench to do a reverse concordance look up -- a
useful function that SDL finally introduced with Studio. After I
begun using Xbench and I saw how useful it was, I started using it
more and more: at first only for searching terminology (glossaries and
translation memories), but after a short while also for translation QA.
With Xbench, you use the same search
program and leverage the same glossaries and resources no matter what CAT
tool you use for writing your translation. If you, like me, work with
several CAT tools, it is good to know that you can always rely on your
favorite glossaries and resources, regardless of the translation
environment you are using for a specific project.
Also, the glossaries you load in Xbench
can be as simple as a tab-delimited text file: no need to struggle with the
intricacies of SDL MultiTerm.
Nowadays the QA features of the most
powerful CAT tools (such as SDL Trados Studio or memoQ) are
extensive. So, if your CAT tool already offers internal QA features, why
use an external program like Xbench?
For me, the answer is that I regularly have
to use more than one CAT tool: mostly SDL Trados Studio, but
increasingly also memoQ, Memsource, and sometimes other
programs as well. Just like for terminology management, one of the reasons
I rely on Xbench as a QA tool instead of using the internal QA
features of my CAT tools is that with Xbench I can use a single
program, with the same resources and key terminology glossaries, and the same
QA tests. If I spend hours devising and refining a special regex (regular
expression) search to test for certain possible translation problems, I
want to be able to use it regardless of what CAT tool I use to translate
any specific project.
offers a rich set of QA tests: a spelling checker that allows you to flag
all suspect misspellings at the same time, instead of one at a time
throughout the text, and various consistency tests -- for example, to see
if sentences that have the same text have been translated differently, or,
conversely, if sentences that are different in the source text all have the
same translation. Xbench also helps with numeric consistency, with
making sure that "camelCase" words are the same in source and
target (useful when translating software), checks for the correct
application of required terminology, and allows for additional QA tests
based on your personal and project checklists (more about that later).
Some of Xbench's QA checks
Supported File Types
supports many different bilingual file types, for glossaries (for example,
tab-delimited text files), for translation memories (TMX and several
proprietary CAT tool formats, including Studio memories), and CAT tool
bilingual files (from all the major CAT tools, such as Trados Studio
The files loaded in Xbench can be
used in various ways: as reference files (doing searches in memories,
glossaries and bilingual tools), as "key terminology" glossaries
(that is, glossaries that are used during QA to check that the terminology
is correct), and as "ongoing translation" (files on which QA is
performed to find inconsistencies and other issues).
The bilingual file types supported by Xbench
include those from some old programs, such as "classic" Trados,
SDLX, TagEditor and even IBM TM2, and all the major
CAT tools currently in use, including SDL Trados Studio, memoQ,
Star Transit, Wordfast, Déjà Vu, Transifex, Google
Translator Toolkit, MateCat and Memsource.
You can even use Xbench with CAT
tools that are not officially supported and that, in fact, do not use
bilingual files the way other CAT tools do. With a bit of ingenuity, you
can even use Xbench to check the translations you do in OmegaT.
Xbench Plug-Ins and Integrations
offers plug-ins or extensions for several programs.
SDL Trados Studio
For SDL Trados Studio there is an
add-in that can be downloaded either from the SDL app store
or from Xbench.net. Once you install the add-in, you can launch the Run
QA in Currecnt Project command from the Home ribbon bar within Trados
Unlike Trados Studio, memoQ
doesn't expose an API (application programming interface) to create
add-ins, so ApSIC, the Spanish software and translation company that
develops Xbench, went a different way to make easy the use of Xbench
with memoQ files: it uses "segment positioning" that
allows you to perform a translation QA in Xbench on an exported file
from memoQ and easily jump back to the segment in the actual open project
within memoQ. You can find a video on this procedure right here.
Memsource is a popular cloud CAT tool, and Xbench
supports it with its own add-in, the Xbench Connector for
Memsource. The Xbench Connector creates a connection
between Xbench and the Memsource Editor (the optional desktop
that Memsource projects can be translated in).
Xbench Connector for Memsource
Transifex, Google Translator Toolkit,
To perform QA in Xbench on several
cloud CAT tools, such as Transifex, Google Translator Toolkit,
or MateCat, ApSIC has developed an add-in for Google Chrome.
With the installed plugin you can start the Xbench QA process within
an open project of any of these tools. Once an error is detected in Xbench,
you can easily jump back to the corresponding segment in the open project
and make the necessary correction.
Google Chrome extensions for Xbench
Using Xbench to Create and Export
Another useful feature offered by Xbench
is that it can export to a single TMX file all the bilingual resources
included in an Xbench project. So, if you have a mix of various
bilingual files, you can use Xbench to create out of them a single
exported translation memory, which can then be imported in any CAT tool.
already offers many different QA tests. But what if the test you need to
perform is not among those featured by the program?
The answer is that you can extend Xbench's
QA and search features through project and personal checklists. Checklists
can be as simple as simple searches, and as complicated as complex regex
expressions. By using such searches and record them in checklists, you can
add to Xbench the ability to search for inconsistencies in
punctuation, more flexible key term lists, lists of words not to be used in
your translations, and more.
Extending Xbench with personal checklists
Conclusion and Links
I find Xbench extremely useful, and I
use it with all the translation projects I do. You can download the program
from Xbench.net. For a full review
of the various features offered by Xbench, see my presentation "Xbench for
Terminology Management and Translation QA" on my blog About
Translation. See also ApSIC's support on Xbench.net, and the Xbench Community Forum for
more information on the program.