Premium: Boost Your Productivity
The online network for all Across
users brings together translation service providers and buyers. Become a
premium member and benefit from unlimited possibilities to find and contact
For prices and a list of all premium
features, visit www.crossmarket.net
1. Where Art Thou? (Premium Edition)
the years I have reported on a number of tools because I was contacted by
the developers behind the tools or our paths crossed in some other way. But
unlike the tools that I continue to talk about, including translation
environment tools, Windows, and general productivity tools, many are
never mentioned again. So the question beckons: Did I just overlook any
kind of worthwhile development after I first reported on the tools, or was
there truly nothing that happened? Or did the tool or technology actually
meet its demise?
the last few weeks I've been writing about possibilities that are
presenting themselves to us, including our own possibilities to participate
in development -- if we only look hard enough. Many of the tools and
technologies listed below were developed by translators. Some were
successful (whatever that means) and others were not (again, whatever that
means). So you could take all this as a case study of whether it's
reasonable to step out of your comfort zone or not.
is the list of tools. I'll start with the one that has been in the news the
most lately and end with the one with the most shocking demise. The ones in
between are randomly listed.
. . you can find the rest of this article 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
receive an annual subscription for free. Once you have a subscription, you
can also access the full archive of the Tool Box Journal Premium edition
going back to 2007.
More matches than any other CAT.
in the cloud, faster than with any other CAT tool.
Supporting over 60 file formats and now also Google Drive files.
2. Making community Open Source work for LSPs
(column by Marc Mittag, MittagQI)
Since I entered the language industry in
2002, I have observed two major trends: Word-prices on the market are under
pressure. And the involvement of IT in translation processes is on the
increase. Both trends are increasingly accelerating in recent years.
Yet another trend has also recently become
apparent, however: The big LSPs in the market are trying to take control of
translation processes through technology. They are trying to own the
process -- and thus make suppliers and customers dependent on them.
All three developments are interconnected:
Building their own technology enables the big players to control the
processes and keep the pressure on prices. Thus they are making it more and
more difficult for small and medium-sized LSPs to stay profitable -- and to
keep their independence. Without their own control over the processes,
these LSPs tend to become mere pawns of the big LSPs, with the danger of
being kicked out of the market.
This is especially true for single and
regional language vendors. But it is true as well for smaller multi
language vendors (MLVs) who simply cannot afford to invest as much in IT as
the big ones. So these smaller MLVs are not and will not be able to compete
with the big ones in efficiency, in the new upcoming technical trends (like
automatic linguistic quality checks, self-learning MT, or business
analytics for translation processes and quality), and in setting up
specialized processes for their customers.
As I perceive it, to cope with these trends,
small and mid-sized LSPs have to invest in IT and thus be able to compete
and stay independent and profitable. They have to own their software --
instead of owning licenses.
Of course, these LSPs cannot afford to do
all of this on their own. They must cooperate with others. Yet this is no
handicap: Analyses show that many of the most successful companies are
those who cooperate with their competitors.
This leads me to the main topic: To
cooperate between competitors on IT, you need an easy solution from an
organizational and legal point of view. This is exactly what open source is
made for and has served for numerous times (some of the most well-known
examples are widespread open source content management systems like Wordpress
There are a lot of community open source projects
out there in the language industry: Okapi, OmegaT, translate5,
OpenTM2, Translate Toolkit, and Moses, to name but a
few. If you add up the functionality of these tools, you get a relatively
complete picture of what you need for professional translations. Yet there
is no open source tool that is complete or modern enough to be used as a
major production tool in today's LSPs.
In summary, we have a need for LSPs to
cooperate on software, we have open source as a good model for that, and we
have a number of existing open source tools for different areas of our
business. But still there has been no major cooperative software effort
among LSPs to put together the different open source pieces into a
comprehensive system usable by end-users.
A major reason for this is simply that
cooperation is built on trust and expertise. To create trust between
competing LSPs who want to cooperate on IT, you need a neutral party, a
party that has high technical competence, is NOT an LSP itself (or
affiliated with one), and is not subject to political discussions. A party
that will put their whole heart in the matter and thrive on helping
opponents cooperate, someone who is not purely idealistic about open source
but also has a business case in supporting it, developing it, and
organizing the development that others contribute to. This is highly needed
in professional open source usage because it ensures that companies using
the software will have a partner who cares for their development and
support needs on a business level.
This is what we at MittagQI have made our mission and
vision for our company. It's about helping small and mid-sized LSPs to
develop the software they need through cooperation with others.
The vision of realizing community open
source in the translation industry is gaining momentum due to the
engagement of many people and companies:
- Last fall IBM finally
to the public in the same version they use internally and are updating
on a regular base.
- A crowdfunding for an
open source translation system has been set up. The current
and first funding effort aims to integrate translate5,
MT systems. The result will be an easily extendable, open source
web-based platform for translation, proofreading, and postediting that
includes TM- and MT-integration and supports multiple users, roles,
and simple workflows.
- The first phase of this
crowdfunding just recently successfully raised € 21,000 from seven
different companies: beo, Lexitech, and Supertext (GOLD supporters); oneword (SILVER supporter); IOLAR and Globalese (BRONZE
supporters); and Locasoft (supporter).
This is enough to complete the developments of the translate5-specific
components and the Moses
integration. The next phase of the funding now aims to raise another €
15,000 needed for the OpenTM2-specific components.
Examples of next steps include integrating Okapi for file format conversion
and quality checking -- and everything the companies using it need and
Every interested company or individual is highly
welcomed to engage and contribute their ideas. Only with the engagement of
as many companies and individuals as possible will this vision be realized.
This can be done by using the community platforms of OpenTM2 or translate5,
directly engaging in the crowdfunding, or by contacting MittagQI.
A next major opportunity for the language
industry to connect and exchange about community open source and the
coordination of projects and companies will be the Community Open Source
track at the German Localization
Unconference. This unconference takes place on June 23 and 24 at
the SAP offices in Dezernat 16 in Heidelberg.
Tell us your great ideas for SDL
Trados Studio 2015 and you could win €500
Have you ever had a fantastic idea for a new
feature in SDL Trados Studio 2015? Tell us what you'd like to see developed
as an app on the SDL AppStore for a chance to win €500 and
let us make your idea a reality!
an idea >>.
No more downtime -- memoQ
support goes 24!
around the clock -- all around the globe . . .
3. Caffeinated, User-Centric Development
I've written about CafeTran Espresso a good number of
times before as an extremely feature-rich but inexpensive translation
environment tool that is run by a developer who is very, very eager to
please. The following is a really great illustration of this.
One of the most difficult formats to
translate is computer-aided design (CAD) files. While many translators
could not care less (i.e., are never confronted with these files), those
that do, really do. The leading CAD tool, AutoCAD, is hideously
expensive, even with its current subscription plan (vs. the old licensing
plan), which makes tools like the otherwise great TransTools for Autocad
difficult to use since you have to have a version of AutoCAD on your
is an inexpensive and easy-to-use tool for DXF files (the CAD file exchange
format), but it does not allow any selection of what needs to be
translated. And other computer-assisted translation tools, including CafeTran
Espresso, Across, and Star Transit, do support AutoCAD
files but did not or only on a limited basis allow for a selection process
of which layers to translate in a CAD file (an important feature since the
majority of the text elements within a CAD file are untranslatables that
you don't want to have displayed to you in the translation process).
An LSP that I've been consulting with for a
number of years frequently works with engineering-heavy texts and therefore
many CAD files and had struggled with those for a number of years. During
my last visit, we looked at the available options, decided that none really
was perfect for their needs, and then decided to contact Igor, the
developer behind CafeTran Espresso. We described to him what the
problem was, what was needed and by when, and in return for his development
the LSP committed to support him as much as possible during the
development, promising to purchase a number of licenses if the development
were finished successfully.
Long story short: It took two conference
calls, about a week for Igor to implement it with the very proactive help
of one my client's main users, and the solution was introduced into the
latest version of CafeTran Espresso a week or so ago (for all to
use, and, yes, you're very welcome).
So now, once you select a DXF file and open Project
configuration, you can select Filter options and then choose only
the Filter layers that need to be translated.
It works completely seamlessly, and for
those who work with CAD files a lot, this is a true godsend. Plus, CafeTran
Espresso is inexpensive enough that it even pays to use it only for
this particular file format (if you choose to use another translation environment
Yes, you guessed it, I really love this
story. It's exactly how it should be. Now, I know that CafeTran Espresso
is not the only tool that has ever done anything like this. Most every
developer has one or many stories like that to tell. But since I just
stumbled on this one, it seemed a good one to share.
The moral of the story: TALK TO YOUR VENDORS
4. The Tech-Savvy Interpreter: VoiceBoxer --
The Multilingual Webinar Platform I Always Knew Was Possible (Column by
Barry Slaughter Olsen)
This month's edition of the Tech-Savvy
Interpreter includes a bonus video of the
VoiceBoxer interpreter interface. Don't miss it!)
Last month, we discussed remote simultaneous
interpretation for multilingual virtual meetings, which are occupying a
growing part of the online meetings space. This installment of the Tech-Savvy
Interpreter gets back to technology show-and-tell by taking a look at VoiceBoxer, a relatively new
multilingual web platform for presentations and webinars. Think GoToWebinar,
but with built-in capabilities to connect professional remote simultaneous
interpreters -- something long overdue.
Launched in May 2015, VoiceBoxer has
built a sleek, well-designed platform that works well for multilingual
webinars with remote simultaneous interpretation. The platform recreates
the large conference or keynote speaker experience in the virtual space
where one speaker presents to many listeners and interaction is usually
limited to a short question and answer session at the end of a
presentation, which in the case of VoiceBoxer is done through a
multilingual chat window (more on that in the video).
Since its commercial launch one year ago
(Happy birthday, VoiceBoxer, by the way!), they have hosted over 200
webinars and presentations on their platform. Their most frequently
requested language combinations are currently English paired with Spanish,
French, Arabic, and Russian. (To anyone reading this in Asia, I see an
opportunity for Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese here.)
VoiceBoxer's Copenhagen-based team of designers and engineers has
done its homework to truly understand what interpreters need to do their
job remotely. The interpreter interface has been well thought out and
includes what many consider a must-have when working remotely -- a video
feed of the presenter. The interface also includes a view of the slides,
which is controlled by the presenter. One cool feature is that if the slides
have been pre-translated into the working languages of the webinar, the
different language versions can be uploaded to the platform so that
participants see the slides in their preferred language. This makes for a
more enjoyable experience for the participants, as they don't have to stare
at slides in a language they don't understand. Interpreters see the slides
in the language that they are interpreting into.
Arguably, the most difficult aspect of
working remotely as a simultaneous interpreter is switching off with your
virtual booth mate who could literally be located anywhere in the world. In
an effort to make the switch between interpreters as seamless as possible, VoiceBoxer
has included three different features: a closed chat channel for
interpreters who are working together in the same virtual booth,
independent volume control of the presenter and of the other interpreter,
and a process for informing the idle interpreter that the working
interpreter is ready to switch.
This last one is a little complex, so let me
try to explain. As the working interpreter reaches the end of their turn,
they request a switch by clicking on a hand icon on the interface. This
sends a signal to the idle interpreter that the working interpreter is
ready to switch. The idle interpreter then accepts the request. The working
interpreter receives a message that the idle interpreter is ready and can
then find the appropriate moment to stop interpreting, knowing that their
booth mate is listening and ready to pick up where they left off. I know,
it sounds complex, but coordinating the switch between interpreters,
whether they are physically in the same space or not, is a careful and
intricate dance that requires coordination and practice. I honestly don't
think that any remote interpreting platform has designed the perfect
switching mechanism yet.
It is important to note that if the working
interpreter is unexpectedly disconnected, the idle interpreter is notified
to take the mic. And I know that this matters because I have had to do it
during a couple of virtual interpreting assignments in the past. That said,
there are other circumstances -- e.g., microphone problems, a sudden
slowdown in Internet speed causing packet loss, or a fire alarm (yes, it
has happened) -- where the idle interpreter may need to take over
proactively without going through this complex set of steps.
The interface also includes a message at the
bottom of the screen that clearly states "Interpreting from: language
X to language Y." Keep in mind that the channel the interpreter works
into switches automatically based on the speaker's language channel when
they are given the floor, so all the interpreter has to do is begin
interpreting into the other language. But frequently switching directions
isn't too much of a consideration since the platform is currently designed
for interpreting presentations and webinars, not highly interactive
meetings with a lot of back and forth between participants who speak
The developers have also included a
"slow-down" button on the interpreter interface, similar to those
that have been included on many physical interpreter consoles over the
years. Based on my personal experience, in face-to-face meetings these
buttons never really helped and often were not even set up to function
correctly during a meeting. In a virtual setting, however, a slow-down reminder
flashing on the presenter's screen may well be enough to remind him/her to
slow down because the presenter is looking at the screen where the message
appears as they present.
To work on VoiceBoxer, an interpreter
needs a computer with the Google Chrome browser installed, a quality
headset that plugs into the computer, a wired broadband internet
connection, and a quiet place to work like a home office. The VoiceBoxer
platform now runs on WebRTC,
which allows the interpreter interface to run entirely within the web
browser. No need to download and install software, which is a huge benefit
of this new web-based technology. It also means you can use either PC or
Like any other tech developer, VoiceBoxer
has to walk a fine line between keeping the platform simple enough so that
it is largely intuitive and easy to use but also powerful enough that it
meets the interpreters' needs in this new virtual work environment. Be sure
to check out this short bonus video I
have recorded that shows the VoiceBoxer interpreter
interface in detail.
There have been several attempts over the
last few years to build, roll out, and commercialize web-based remote
interpreting platforms. The VoiceBoxer team has done its homework
and learned from the mistakes of others. They are focusing on a couple of
specific use cases rather than trying to be all things to all clients. They
are engaging the interpreting community actively and addressing the needs
and concerns of interpreters. And they are addressing a market need that
for too long has been poorly covered by inadequate, cobbled-together
solutions when clients need simultaneous interpretation for webinars and
web meetings. That's a winning combination in my book. I always knew a
multilingual webinar platform like this was possible. Kudos to the VoiceBoxer
team for making it a reality.
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
Spanish? Here's an easy way to start learning Portuguese...
Visit the Sound Brazilian blog for
quick and easy tips for speakers of Spanish who are learning, or would like
to learn, Brazilian Portuguese. New tips posted with audio files every
The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal
If you would like to promote this journal by
placing a link on your website, I will in turn mention your website in a
future edition of the Tool Box Journal. Just paste the code you find here into
the HTML code of your webpage, and the little icon that is displayed on
that page with a link to my website will be displayed.
You can subscribe to and view the Japanese
and Korean versions of the Tool Box Journal right here.
If you are subscribed to this journal with more than one email address, it would be great if
you could unsubscribe redundant addresses through the links Constant
Contact offers below.
Should you be interested in reprinting one
of the articles in this journal for promotional purposes, please contact me for
information about pricing.
© 2016 International Writers'